Autumn's Veggie Pizza
1/4 c. warm water
1 tsp. active dry yeast
3 c. bread flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry malt extract
1 c. cold water
cooking spray or oil of choice
1 lb. sautéed sliced wild mushrooms (e.g., shiitake, chanterelle, hen-of-the-wood, etc.)
1/2 c. grilled, chopped leeks
1 c. roasted thin-sliced pumpkin
1/2 c. blue cheese crumbles
1 c. shredded Fontina cheese
1/2 c. roasted red bell pepper, cut in small dice
1 tsp. chopped parsley for garnish
Sprinkle yeast over the warm water (110 to 115 degrees). While the yeast rests for 5 minutes, put the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the dry malt extract. Then mix the yeast mixture and cold water with the flour, salt and dry malt mixture; hand mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. Empty contents onto a flat surface and knead for 5 minutes or until the dough ball is slightly tacky and elastic.
Divide dough in two and put in two oiled bowls. (I use cooking spray.) Let rise for 90 minutes. Once risen, take each dough ball, fold it over itself a couple times, and reform into a ball. You should feel and hear air bubbles popping as you form it. Put them back in their bowls, cover with plastic wrap, and put in the fridge. It's best for flavor if they sit for up to 15 hours, but a few hours will do. (The dough also freezes well; just double-wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let sit for a few hours to defrost and rise before use.)
Remove dough from fridge and let it come to room temperature. At 2South, we use a brick oven at 750 degrees; at home, you will need to preheat your oven to 550 degrees. Preheat for 10 minutes to let your pizza stone reach the same temperature.
Form the dough on a lightly floured surface and transfer to a lightly floured wooden peel. Give quick shakes to the peel to make sure the dough does not stick. Add and arrange toppings, then cook on the pizza stone for 6 minutes. If you are cooking in a pizza brick oven, you will need to rotate the pizza often with the peel. Makes two pizzas, serving 6 to 8.
Whenever I create new menu items, I always try to incorporate the freshest ingredients. My Autumn's Veggie Pizza will be appearing on the 2South fall menu in September. It begins with a very quick and simple in-house dough — it only takes about 15 minutes to make the dough, and another 15 to form — made daily and specially designed for cooking in a brick oven or on a pizza stone. I chose these toppings to celebrate the rich colors and flavors we see coming to market in our fall transition, as well as create a comfort food that reminds us of the goodness of being at home. While the toppings cater to our growing number of vegetarian fans, the robust flavors will also satisfy our carnivores. Come visit me at 2South to enjoy this and many of my other culinary creations. Enjoy!
— Submitted by Executive Chef Supansa Banker