Food & Drink

How to make the veggie pizza of your dreams

Farm-fresh eggs are added to a pizza topped with sautéed spinach, mushrooms and shallots at a “Art of Artisan Pizza” class at Refugio Kitchen in Paso Robles.
Farm-fresh eggs are added to a pizza topped with sautéed spinach, mushrooms and shallots at a “Art of Artisan Pizza” class at Refugio Kitchen in Paso Robles. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Cookbook author Brigit Binns teaches students how to craft amazing pizza and other gourmet goodies at Refugio Kitchen in Paso Robles.

Here are two recipes from her “Art of Artisan Pizza” class, guaranteed to turn you into a pizza pro.

Brigit Binns’ 48 Hour Cold-Fermented Pizza Dough

Makes eight 8-ounce dough balls

 1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees; heat for 15 seconds in microwave)

Scant  1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

24 ounces “00” flour (1 pound, 8 ounces)

10 ounces bread flour (for a total flour weight of 2.2 pounds)

1  1/2 tablespoons fine sea salt

2  1/4 cups cold water

1 tablespoon olive oil

Rice flour, for shaping the balls

Place  1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl (or measuring jug) and sprinkle with  1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy.

Place both the flours, salt, yeast-water mixture, and remaining water (2  1/4 cups, cold) in bowl of a large stand mixer (lift-bowl, not tilt-head) fitted with the dough hook. Mix on “2” setting for 3 minutes, until all flour from bottom of bowl is incorporated. Drizzle with the olive oil and mix on “2” for 2 minutes more. Turn mixer off and loosely cover bowl with plastic or a towel. Let rest for 20 minutes.

Mix again at “2” for 3 minutes more. Transfer to a lightly oiled large, tall bowl. Cover with lid or plastic and refrigerate for 48 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and let the container stand for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature (less in summer; more in winter).

About 1 hour to 1  1/2 hours before baking, gentle scoop dough out onto a lightly rice-floured surface and divide dough into 8 equal pieces; form into 8 very firm balls, creating surface tension, and place on lightly rice-floured parchment in covered containers.

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Spinach, mushroom and egg pizza

Makes one 13-inch pie; may be doubled or tripled

Note: If the spinach needs to be washed, you’ll need to spin it completely dry before adding to the roasted mushrooms.

Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

1 large shallot, minced

8 ounces mushrooms (baby bella, cremini, oyster), brushed clean, stems removed, and chopped

5 ounces baby spinach leaves (about 5 cups), completely dry

Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

One 8-ounce ball of dough, at room temperature

Rice flour and fine cornmeal, for shaping and cooking the pie

3 ounces shaved fontina or gruyere cheese

2 whole farm eggs, at room temperature

Finishing salt, such as Maldon flake (optional)

In a skillet over medium-high heat (or in a wood-fired oven), sizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil until hot. Add the shallots and mushrooms and stir frequently until the ‘shrooms are wilted and all the excess liquid has cooked off. Stir in the spinach, season generously with salt and pepper; cover and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, until the spinach wilts. Remove from the heat and set aside for up to an hour, if desired.

Flour a board and your hands with rice flour, then dimple the central two-thirds of the dough ball with your fingertips to flatten slightly; never pat or press down on the rim (corniche). Stretch and pull the dough into a roughly 13-inch round or oval with a raised corniche (I like to make an hourglass shape for this one).

Transfer the dough circle to a long-handled wooden pizza peel (a tool resembling a flat shovel) liberally sprinkled with fine cornmeal. Break each egg into a ramekin or saucer.

Working quickly, brush the shaped dough with a little olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Gently spread the spinach-mushroom mixture over the dough in two circles, creating two empty depressions (where the eggs will go, and be held in by the low “walls” of the spinach mixture) and leaving a half-inch border.

Scatter the shaved cheese over the spinach mixture and inside the egg-depressions. Jiggle the dough on the peel to make sure it’s still mobile, then quickly and confidently slide the pie onto the floor in the center of the oven and bake, rotating occasionally after the first minute or two.

Bake until the cheese has begun to soften and the crust is only just barely pale golden. Pull the pie toward you with a peel or a hook, and slide an egg from each saucer into each of the depressions you have created. Slide the pie back into the oven and continue cooking until the white of the egg is almost set but the yolk is still nice and runny, another 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the temperature.

Retrieve with a metal peel and transfer to a cutting board. Season with finishing salt and let stand for 1 minute if desired. Slice and enjoy.

Courtesy of Brigit Binns

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SLO County cookbook author Brigit Binns offers her best pro tips for making artisan pizza. (Rule No. 1: Never pat the dough!) Binns leads various hands-on cooking classes in Paso Robles' Refugio Kitchen program.

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