Cookbook Review: Todd English’s Rustic Pizza

Todd English is a world-renowned, celebrated chef with a long history of great pizza making. The free-form, thin-crusted pies at his Figs restaurants in Boston arguably changed pizza-making in the city, and now he brings his pizza-making secrets to home cooks!

With more than 150 easy recipes to make pizza from scratch—from making your own dough, to stirring up spectacular sauces for your pizza base, to arranging the best combination for fresh toppings—you can make the perfect pizza crisp up in your very own oven.

Roll out your Italian-style Pizza Dough or Gluten-Free Pizza Dough, coat it with Todd’s homemade Fresh Tomato Sauce and top it with fresh ingredients to make any number of pizzas for the whole family, from Pizza Classico to Chicken Chili Pizza!

Todd English’s Rustic Pizza: Handmade Artisan Pies from Your Own Kitchen at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.


Smoked Mozzarella, Salami, and Black Olives Pizza

Here the ingredients do all of the heavy lifting for you. You just need to assemble them. Choose a good quality Italian salami, oil-cured olives (no canned here, please!), and the best smoked mozzarella you can find.

2 pizza rounds of your choice (Basic Pizza Dough recipe below)

All-purpose flour for sprinkling

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon minced garlic

⅔ cup Roasted Tomato Sauce (recipe below)

8 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, shredded

3 ounces salami, thinly sliced

¼ cup sliced oil-cured black olives (such as Kalamata)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

One hour before baking, place a baking stone in the oven and preheat it to 500°F (450°F for gluten-free crusts).

Roll out 1 pizza round as thinly as possible and place it on a pizza peel sprinkled with flour. Leaving an outer lip all around the edge of the dough, cover the surface with half the oil and garlic: season with salt and pepper.

Evenly spread half the sauce on the dough. Top with half each of the mozzarella, salami and olives.

Shake the peel lightly and slide the pizza onto the hot baking stone. Bake until browned, 6 to 7 minutes (10 to 14 minutes for gluten-free crusts).

Transfer the pizza to a firm surface and cut it into slices. Serve immediately.

Repeat all the steps using the second dough round.

Basic Pizza Dough

MAKES ENOUGH DOUGH FOR 4 (8- TO 10-INCH) PIZZAS

¼ cup whole wheat flour

3½ cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling

2 teaspoons (¼ ounce) instant yeast

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1⅔ cups lukewarm water (105°F–110°F)

Line two sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, place the whole wheat and all-purpose flours, yeast, salt, and sugar.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the oil and then the water. Continue mixing on low until the dough is firm and smooth, about 10 minutes.

Divide the dough equally into four rounds. Place the dough rounds on the prepared sheet pans and cover them with a damp towel: let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

To roll out the dough, generously flour your work surface and place one dough round on it. With floured fingers, press down in the center of the dough with the tips of your fingers, spreading the dough with your hands. When the dough has doubled in width, use a floured rolling pin to roll it out until it is very thin, like flatbread. The outer border should be a little thicker than the inner circle to make a sort of lip to hold in the sauce and toppings. Pick the dough up with a spatula or with the back of a knife, allowing it to fold up almost like an umbrella, and transfer it to a peel. Do not worry that the pizza is not round: you are looking for an 8- to 10-inch shape, a cross between an oval and a rectangle. If you get a hole, simply pinch it back together. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds and proceed with any of the pizza recipes.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

MAKES ABOUT 7 CUPS

3 pounds fresh plum tomatoes, or 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes in juice, well drained

½ cup chicken broth or water

1 large Spanish onion, peeled and sliced

½ cup fresh basil leaves

⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a roasting pan, toss all the ingredients together to combine. Bake until the tomato skins are charred and the sauce has just begun to come together, 45 to 60 minutes.

When the mixture is cool enough to handle, coarsely chop the tomatoes. Be sure to scrape up the pan juices.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Castle Point Books.

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