The warm sun spilled in the windshield as we drove the miles towards home. The mountains of Virginia hazed in the distance as I tuned into the Bon appetit food-cast where they were interviewing Joe Badia of Philly’s Pizzeria Badia- say that out loud a few times!
Joe’s restaurant is acclaimed to be, “The best pizza joint in America.” Look it up! It’s in downtown Philly. I have it bookmarked so that I don’t forget to stop in if I’m ever in Philly for a visit. Joe talks about how to make the “best possible pizza” at home. Joe went into detail about what his method is for the crust, how he lets it sit to ferment for 24-48 hours and about the importance of not putting too many toppings on a pizza. When I got home, I found Bon Appetit’s Pizza crust recipe and made it immediately.
This is a two-fold story; one part pizza crust and the other part, mother’s day picnic. Come pull up a folding chair and join us for some pizza and salad. If you stick around long enough after the lingering dinner conversations have wrapped up and we’re inside washing up the dishes, there will be dessert; angel food cake with strawberries fresh from our patch.
It’s wonderful to own a strawberry patch. For a large part of the month of May, whenever I walk out the door in the mornings, I have access to freshly grown, organic strawberries. We planted them when we first moved here and waited two long years for them to finally produce. But now? Ahhhh. Our freezers are bulging with their abundance. I couldn’t be happier about it.
A few Mother’s Days ago, we lugged our dining room table outside so that it could see the sunlight for the first time and then put it underneath the shade of the oak tree in our backyard and spread it with white dishes. I remember it vividly, because that was the first time I bought a bouquet of peonies. That’s when my relationship with these gorgeous flowers began and it has been a love affair that has grown deeper and more profound with time. Peonies start out as bulging buds and bloom into layers and layers of frilly colors and this is why I have fallen in love with them.
(From Mother’s Day 2014, when my love for peonies began.)
Here’s a little bit of real-life happening around our house as we all pitched in and helped prepare food for the picnic.
My mom is undoubtedly the reason that I love to cook. My fondest childhood memories are of working in the kitchen with her. It’s only fitting to be sharing a recipe in honor of the woman who taught me the value of bringing people together around the table and filling that table with wonderful food and conversation.
This past Saturday, I tied on an apron (because me + flour = messy) and made pizza crust and let it sit overnight. On Sunday we cranked up the trusty oven and heated up the pizza stones before rolling out the dough and transferring them onto piping hot pizza stones. While we preheated the oven, we sautéed onions and mushrooms and roasted garlic with tomato sauce and stirred milk and butter and flour and cream cheese together to create a white sauce.
Melissa proved her love for me by cutting bacon in thin strips long-ways and frying it up for the jalapeño popper pizza that I’d been dreaming up.
Merle made individual salads and topped the angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream while Briana helped me roll out and top pizzas and helped me negotiate putting pizzas in the oven and pulling ready pizzas out of the oven before slicing them up.
This is what Mother’s day 2017 looked like as we once again took to dining al fresco. The light was golden as Briana set out plates and arranged tulips in vases. And we won’t mention how the mosquitos seemed to be mining for gold beneath our skin because otherwise, the evening couldn’t have been more perfect.
MAKES SIX 10″–12″ PIZZAS SERVINGS
- 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (1000 grams) plus more for shaping dough
- 4 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
Whisk flour, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add 3 cups water; stir until well incorporated. Mix dough gently with your hands to bring it together and form into a rough ball. Transfer to a large clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature (about 72°) in a draft-free area until surface is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size, about 18 hours (time will vary depending on the temperature in the room).
Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Gently shape into a rough rectangle. Divide into 6 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to center to create 4 folds. Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball. Dust dough with flour; set aside on work surface or a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining portions.
Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour.
To Make the Pizzas
During the last hour of dough’s resting, prepare oven: If using a pizza stone, arrange a rack in upper third of oven and place stone on rack; preheat oven to its hottest setting, 500°–550°, for 1 hour. If using a baking sheet, arrange a rack in middle of oven and preheat to its hottest setting, 500°–550°. (You do not need to preheat the baking sheet.)
Working with 1 dough ball at a time, dust dough generously with flour and place on a floured work surface. Gently shape dough into a 10″–12″ disk.
If Using Pizza Stone
When ready to bake, increase oven heat to broil. Sprinkle a pizza peel or rimless (or inverted rimmed) baking sheet lightly with flour. Place dough disk on prepared peel and top with desired toppings.
Using small, quick back-and-forth movements, slide pizza from peel onto hot pizza stone. Broil pizza, rotating halfway, until bottom of crust is crisp and top is blistered, 5–7 minutes.
Using peel, transfer to a work surface to slice. Repeat, allowing pizza stone to reheat under broiler for 5 minutes between pizzas.
If Using a Baking Sheet
Arrange dough disk on baking sheet; top with desired toppings. Bake pizza until bottom of crust is crisp and top is blistered, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a work surface to slice. Repeat with remaining pizzas.
Thank you, Bon appetite for continuing to share your delicious secrets with us!