Sunday, May 01, 2011

Thin Crust Pizza and Easy-Peasy Tomato Sauce

When I received Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook My Father's Daughter for Easter, I found myself surprised by two things in it.

1) I really, really like her philosophy about food. It's meant to bring people together, shouldn't leave you frustrated in the kitchen, and, really, no one needs to get all pretentious about it. Love this, especially the idea of a pretension free kitchen. I think I've made my feelings pretty clear about those bloggers who are strictly in this business so they can become the next Pioneer Woman and those who feel that when it comes to food and recipes, there's a clear right and wrong.

I just don't have time for that nonsense. Since I believe food is all about bringing people together, I hardly see how snobbery fits with that.

Bring in the love, push out the jive.

So, I love that a big name actress with a big name husband subscribes to the same philosophy. Awesome. If only everyone got on board. I guess there'll always be haters, and those who need to feel superior by hurting others.

2) Gwyneth Paltrow is SO not afraid of the fat. I'm insanely jealous of how gorgeously thin she is, because, let me tell you, this is no low cal recipe. It is, however, honest and totally, totally amazing. So, I find myself wanting to hate her guts, but can't bring myself to do it. She rocks my world right now.

Tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, basil, olive oil. YES.

Gwyneth Paltrow's Wood Oven Pizza (without the wood oven)

(from My Father's Daughter)


2¼ cups warm water, divided
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp + 1 tsp active dry yeast (3 packages)
5 cups all-purpose flour (Gwyneth uses bread flour, but I was out)
1½ tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp coarse salt


1. Mix 3/4 cup warm water with white sugar in a large bowl until it is dissolved. Sprinkle surface with yeast. Set aside to proof.

2. Once it has proofed, stir in remaining water, 3½ cups flour, olive oil and salt. Add in additional flour, ½ cup at a time, until mixture no longer sticks to the side of the bowl. Dump onto a generously floured work space and knead for about 8 minutes, incorporating more flour if needed (1 tbsp at a time), until dough is smooth and elastic.

If there are fewer than, say 4 of you eating, divide the dough in two and put one half in a freezer bag and store for later use. To use, place in the fridge to thaw and rise the night before you want to use.

3. Place (remaining) dough ball in a greased bowl, tossing to coat completely. Cover and set aside at room temperature until doubled (or place in the fridge to rise for several hours).

4. If you're like me and don't have a wood burning oven in your garden, preheat your oven, with your pizza stone in it, to the hottest it will go. Let the stone heat up in there for the better part of 1 hour.

5. To make bases, divide the dough into either 8 pieces (if you didn't put half into the freezer) or 4 pieces (if you did set dough aside for later). Stretch with your hands until dough is quite thin.

It's important to NOT use a rolling pin here, because you'll crush all those delicious air bubbles if you do.

6. Place dough on a floured pizza peel (or make-shift peel) before topping with sauce and toppings. Transfer to pizza stone and bake until slightly charred, with a bubbling top, about 6-7 minutes (if your oven is better than ours, and I assume it is, it will take less time).

See all those bubbles? That's where happiness lies.
Doesn't that sauce look fantastic? Make it while the dough is rising. It's dead easy. AND, it makes more than enough, so you can put some in the freezer for a later date.

Also, if I may... buffalo mozzarella, where have you been all my life? YUM.

Gwyneth Paltrow's Pizza Sauce


2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes with their juices
1 tsp coarse salt


1. Heat oil and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, their juices and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour, until sauce has reduced and has thickened. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, puree in a blender to desired consistency.

See? Easy.

I will never buy sauce again.

We made 4 kinds of pizza: salami (Rowe Farms) and buffalo mozzarella (Nancy's Cheese), 3 cheese (mozzarella, Bleu Bénédictin and Parmesan) with white truffle oil (my favourite), mozzarella and basil with a drizzle of olive oil and a salami, mozzarella and blue cheese number.

That was a TON of pizza for the two of us.

Or at least, I thought it was a ton. My husband thought it was just right.

I'd say it serves 4-6 regular human being with a salad on the side. On its own, 3-4.


Sweet And Crumby said...

Love, love, love the EASY sauce recipe. I could use one. I had to laugh though because although the recipes are pretty unpretentious, the "woodfired" part is not. I don't have any friends with a woodfire burning oven. :) Not a hater, just a lover, but did get a little giggle out of that fact. Your pizza looks incredible and I would love to be at your table any day.

Alyson said...

LOL! That's hilarious, I totally didn't even think of it that way! I guess it's because I have a friend whose cottage has no running water or electricity but two woodburning ovens and just made the association between this recipe to the insanely rustic! But yes, most of us aren't so lucky. Thankfully the recipe gives oven directions. =)

Anonymous said...

I've been doing a lot of work on my home-made pizza lately. I've settled on the Cook's Illustrated slow-fermented dough (, although I still haven't produced one batch I'm completely happy with. Early on they were too sticky because I misjudged the water; last one was just right but didn't rise much (I think perhaps my yeast is off).

I don't care for the sauce that recipe uses though. It tastes great but it's too runny, so I keep getting very soggy pizzas (it doesn't help that I'm a glutton for topping either). I'm going to try the sauce you describe next time.

Top tip -- roast chopped bell peppers to go on the pizza in the oven while the stone is warming up, with a little oil and balsamic vinegar.

Alyson said...

Mmm, I love roasted red peppers That's a great tip!

I've slowly moved away to less on my pizza... and we don't have a peel so the delicate art of transferring the dough to the stone is a moment of high stress. The fewer toppings I have to worry about, the better.

Locavore Family said...

I love the sound of this and am particularly fond of thin crust pizza's. I should be eating wheat, period, but if I'm going to cheat, the less fluffy the better.

I love a simple pizza with some great cheese, a fantastic sauce and fresh basil. Yum. :)

Alyson said...

Linds - I hear ya on the if-I'm-going-to-feel-off-it-better-be-worth-it front. The cheese on pizza is always a killer for me. My stomach is in knots for days! Since I've started using buffalo mozzarella and sheep's milk cheeses, it's made a difference.

Part of me wishes they were cheaper, but it's probably better they aren't, because I make the cheese last longer which means fewer calories, right?

I'd take a few quality ingredients over many lesser ingredients any day of the week!

Amy Nicole said...

I absolutely love this recipe and your ideas for toppings sound delish! I was wondering if you knew how many pizzas the original recipe makes? I am throwing a dinner party and want to make sure to get the right amount. It seems like you said 4-6 people? But how many pizzas did you make, 4? And was that all the dough used?

Thanks so much!!

Amy Nicole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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