If you see me eating pizza it is most likely because I am famished, don’t have access to a kitchen or am low on energy and need a quick carb boost. And since I usually have access to my kitchen, I am rarely famished, so pizza is sparingly enjoyed. But when it is, I want to savor it.
Just this week with no water in my own kitchen and not exactly enjoying doing my dishes in my guest bathroom (but well aware it is more than worth it for what awaits), I wished I had planned ahead a couple of weeks ago and made the butter crust recipe that made my palate dance this past June.
Pizza czar, as he is called by many, Anthony Falco has perfected the dough that is butter crust pizza dough. Reminding him of the Pizza Hut pan pizzas from his childhood, he has crafted a dough that if you love croissants, real French croissants, you will enjoy a butter crust pizza. Buttery and soft in the middle, and crispy, buttery edges the entire perimeter of the pizza.
What I appreciate about this recipe is that while the dough does take some time to make, although very easy to construct, it makes multiple pizza doughs, so you can freeze one to have later. AND cold pizza with this crust is lovely as it remains both tender and slightly crispy whereas other crusts become tough.
I did find that the best crust of the two (as the recipe I am sharing is adapted) pizzas is the first one that is fresh and not frozen, but the flavor is still present in the previously frozen dough, and absolutely worth making.
When I enjoy my pizza, I grab a glass of red wine, and put it on a plate with a knife and fork. I know, go ahead and shake your head, but it is what I love to do when I am at home and that is not going to change. If I am planning ahead, I will make sure I have a vegetable side, but I do not apologize for having more than one piece of pizza as it is scrumptious and comforting.
Back to my longing for having this recipe at the ready earlier this week. Since I didn’t have my own pizza, I ordered out for pizza. I have not done this for an entire year, and I was eager to dive in. I had my glass of wine ready, and while the pizza I brought home was good, it was not the deliciousness that this recipe is, so in the next couple of weeks, I will be stepping into my kitchen to stock my freezer for just such infrequent, but needed comfort from a pizza. 🙂
While it may be difficult to know when we will want to have a comfort meal, as this recipe (the dough) needs to be given at least a day’s preparation so that it will be ready the next day to enjoy, if you have frozen one of the dough balls, you simply need to pull it out of the freezer the night before, and the day you want to enjoy it, let it rise for a handful of hours before topping and baking.
I do hope you enjoy.
Butter Crust Margherita Pan Pizza (Bechamel sauce for a touch of Luxury)
Pizza Dough, butter crust
- 500 grams All-purpose flour @ four cups
- 1 tsp fleur de sel
- 350 grams water, luke-warm, room temperature @ 1 1/3 cups
- 30 grams unsalted, high butterfat % butter, melted French or Belgium butters are my favorites, @ 1/8 cup.
- 2 Tbsp olive oil to grease each pan with
- 1 3/4 tsp active yeast
- 2-4 cups favorite tomato-based sauce or make your own
- 1-2 balls large, fresh mozzarella balls sliced
- 1 handful fresh basil roughly chopped
- 2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter the best quality you can afford (French butter is my go-to)
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 2 cups hot whole milk yep, use whole milk – the flavor!!!
- pinch nutmeg
- fleur de sel & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pizza Dough, butter crust
- Make the dough at least one day ahead. If you have already made your dough and are taking it out of the freezer, remove it 4-8 hours before you want to bake it.
- Combine the flour and the salt in a medium to large mixing bowl.
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine the water, butter (melted), olive oil and yeast.
- Combine the ingredients from both of the bowls into the dry ingredients bowl. Mix until they form a wet ball of dough. Don't over mix. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside on your countertop to rise for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, take out the ball of dough and begin to knead on a lightly floured surface until the ball is smooth in appearance, but still slightly sticky to the touch (see picture. Place the ball of kneaded dough into a clean mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place on a counter to rise for three to six hours at room temperatures. After it has risen, place in the refrigerator (still covered) for at least six hours and up to 24-hours. You can see how this could be a three day process if you needed or wanted it to be.
For cooking the frozen pizza dough
- The night before the day/evening you want to enjoy the pizza, take the frozen dough out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator to defrost.
The Day You Want to enjoy the Pizza
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Choose your baking pan of choice. I used a 1/4 baking sheet, but you can also you a cast-iron skillet. You do want a pan with sides as high as a jelly-roll pan as the crust will rise and become caramelized and lovely against the sizes of the pan.
- Grease your preferred baking dish with olive oil. Place the ball of dough on the baking sheet, but do nothing to it for now except cover it with plastic wrap and place on the counter at room temperature to rise for three to five hours.
- After three to five hours, the dough should have nearly doubled in size. Now you get to put your fingers in the dough and shape it to fit the pan. Enjoy this lovely part of the process as the dough is quite malleable. Stretch the dough to the edges of the pan. Leave the dough to rest another two to eight hours – which then will be time to bake! Cover with plastic wrap while it rests.
- You can absolutely make your own tomato sauce, or buy your favorite tomato sauce. Usually when I choose to make pizza, it is because I am exhausted and want comfort food, and making red tomato sauce that will inevitably splat onto my clothing will only make me frustrated if I am already having an exhausting day or week, so I reach for a favorite tomato sauce at the market.
Making the Bechamel Sauce
- In a small sauce pan, add the butter and melt. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and stir constantly with a wooden spoon over medium heat until they combine, and gently begin to bubble (not boil). The color will become a soft yellow. This will take about 2 minutes – remember to stir constantly and with a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat, let the bubbles subside, and then add the milk, mixing in well. Return the sauce pan back to the stove top and bring the entire mixture to boil, whisking the entire time. Once it boils, reduce to simmer and stir for 2 more minutes. Then you are done! Add the Bechamel sauce on top of the red sauce. Add as much or as little as you desire, but once you add the white sauce, you will discover a luxurious way to cook pizza and may never go back. 🙂
- Spread approximately one cup of the red sauce on each pizza, leaving the sides free of sauce, so you have an edge to grab.
- Place the slices of mozzarella as generously over the sauce as is your preference.
- Cook's choice: Add the basil, roughly chopped, on top of the cheese prior to placing into the oven OR sprinkle over the hot pizza as it comes out of the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over the toppings before placing into the oven.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or when the crust is golden brown, the cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown as well.
- Upon taking the pizza out of the oven, you can easily take it out of the pan (as the pan was greased) in one large unit, placing it on your pizza cuting board. Let it rest for a couple of minutes to let it cool so it won't burn your tongue, or dive in based on your preference. I pour myself a glass of red wine, a fork and knife, a large napkin and enjoy more than one slice. I do hope you enjoy what reminds me of a buttery, savory croissant with the taste of summer from the garden.