My pizza making obsession began after a team building pizza night in September. After successfully pulling off a two day event, my whole team and I trekked downtown to Pizza School, where we were greeted with aprons, wine, and lots of pizza dough.
It was cheesy in all the ways (yep, I went there). There’s something scary about putting twenty extremely tired adults in a room and “teaching” them how to make pizza. No one was listening, people were talking over the teacher, he was reprimanding us–at least it was exciting!
We got to make up to three pizzas each. My first was a classic margerita, my second was a riff on bacon egg and cheese with a sunny egg in the middle, and my last was a lemon zest, ricotta and blueberry dessert pie. The pizza was great but after 3 slices I was seriously craving a salad.
These were my pizza takeaways:
- It’s not that hard to make pizza at home (as long as you have a stone or pan in your oven that can get extremely hot).
- It’s all about treating your dough with care.
- Less toppings make for a crispier crust.
SO, since then, I’ve been perfecting making pizza at home. The first things I bought were a pizza peel (according to Wikipedia, “shovel-like tool used by bakers to slide loaves of bread, pizzas, pastries, and other baked goods into and out of an oven”), a Lodge cast iron pizza pan (yes, you can get a pizza stone but I personally love cast iron), and semolina flour so that my crust wouldn’t stick to the pizza peel (you can also use cornmeal).
The only other things you need to make pizza are yeast, flour, water, olive oil and whatever toppings you’d like. I began experimenting with the classic tomato puree with garlic (microplaned into the raw puree), fresh mozzarella and basil (added after the pie comes out). Then I started adding veggies, pepperoni and the occasional egg.
And as fall became winter I started experimenting with squash on pizza and had the awesome idea of creating a sauce out of pureed squash and roasted garlic. I eventually got the idea to add tangy goat cheese, fried sage and brown butter. And this now complete recipe for Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese and Brown Butter Pizza is a WINNER.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do and conquer pizza making at home! I don’t think I’ll ever order delivery again–which is a very a serious statement as a native New Yorker. Next up is developing a square pie to rival L&B Spumoni Gardens…stay tuned!
Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese and Brown Butter Sage Pizza
This recipe makes 4 10-12 inch pizzas.
Preheat oven to 500 (let your pizza pan/stone heat up for AT LEAST an hour. You want it scorching hot and it helps get the kitchen warm for your dough to rise. I let mine preheat for at least two hours).
For the crust (recipe courtesy of pizza school):
3 1/2 cups (20 oz) all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) warm water (should be around 110 degrees, or a little warmer than body temp)
2 1-4 tsp (7g or 1 packet) active dry yeast
1/8 tsp (1g) sugar
1 tbsp (18g) fine sea salt (just don’t use kosher salt, it will rip your dough)
1 tbsp (14g) extra virgin olive oil
Semolina flour for dusting pizza peel
- Proof your yeast to make sure it’s active. Add yeast to warm water, add sugar. Stir once and let sit for 10 minutes until bubbly/foamy on the surface. That’s how you’ll know it’s alive.
- Combine flour and salt.
- Add olive oil to water yeast/mixture.
- Add wet ingredients in the middle of the dry. Slowly stir, starting from the outside of the wet puddle, slowly pulling in the flour, making a paste. The dough will then start to become shaggy. Continue to mix until there is no dry flour left.
- Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Lean into the dough with the palm of your hand. Fold it over and repeat. Add flour whenever the dough gets sticky. When the dough is shiny and elastic, you’re done.
- Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. I like to put each quarter in an oiled plastic pint container, with the lid on. Let rise for 1 hour in a warm place (I leave mine on top of my stove, or if it’s cold, let rise for 2 hours until the dough has expanded and taken up the entire pint container.
- Once the dough has completely risen to the top of the container, empty the container onto a lightly floured surface gently. BE GENTLE with the dough, and flatten by patting the dough gently with open hands, starting from the center and moving outwards. Be sure to leave a little more thickness in the center.
- Pick up the dough from the outside of the circle and place both hands on the outside of the dough, letting gravity do the work to stretch it out. Turn the dough as it stretches until it’s thin enough in the middle to almost see through.
- Place on a well semolina’d pizza peel.
For the toppings:
1 large butternut squash chopped into 2 inch chunks
1 head of garlic
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 large bunch of sage (10-15 leaves for frying)
2 cups of crumbled goat cheese
Parmigiano Reggiano and a microplane
Toss butternut squash in olive oil, salt and pepper. Cut off the top 1/4 inch of the garlic head, saturate in olive oil. Roast in the oven until squash is fork tender around 20-30 minutes.
In the meantime, melt 1 stick of butter, let it bubble and splatter until the milk solids begin to turn light brown. Add sage leaves and remove once they curl. Remove butter from the heat immediately and pour into a bowl, scraping the yummy brown bits out with the butter.
Puree squash and garlic in a food processor until smooth.
Begin to assemble pizza, adding dollops of squash and spreading it out. Add crumbled goat cheese and at least 2-3 fried sage leaves.
Cover the entire pie with Parmigiano Reggiano. Let it snow cheese!
Make sure your raw pizza moves loosely on the pizza peel. If there are some sticky areas, lift the edges and add more semolina underneath the dough.
Slide pizza onto pizza pan. Let bake for 10 minutes. DO NOT OPEN YOUR OVEN to check on it.
If you’d like to add an egg, crack an egg into a bowl. Open the oven after the pizza has been cooking for 4 minutes, add it to the middle, and continue to cook the pizza for another 5 minutes or so.
Remove pizza with the pizza peel and let stand for at least 1 minute before cutting. Drizzle with brown butter and cover with more parmesan cheese. Cut and serve.
The dough will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months. I’d recommend keeping a few of these containers in the freezer for pizza whenever you want it!