Pizza has made it to nearly all corners of the world and Yemen is no exception. There are some restaurants in the major cities which make a pizza similar to the classic Italian pizza and a homemade pizza is also made in the home which has a thick crust, and it uses white feta-like cheese topped with olives, peppers, and other vegetables. It is usually eaten as a snack and not a main meal. In my recipe, I tried to recreate a classic style pizza with mozzarella cheese and a thin, crispy crust. I used a baking stone, which is a really important part of recipe and it allows you to get a crispy crust in about 6 minutes cooking time. Without the stone, the oven just doesnt get as hot and the cooking time is lengthened and the texture of the crust is different. Another important consideration is the quality of cheese which you purchase. If possible try to use fresh cheese that comes in the deli section or in specialty stores.
Dough Ingredients (makes 2 pizzas)
3 cups bread flour
1 cup + 2 tbsp. water
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Cheese Pizza (for one pizza)
2/3 cup crushed tomatoes in can (you can also use chunky or pureed)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp. olive oil
oregano and basil to taste
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded provalone (you can use all mozzarella if you prefer, or try another cheese-I am a real fan of four cheese pizza)
Margarita Pizza (for one pizza)
fresh sliced mozzarella
fresh sliced tomatoes
olive oil, salt, pepper to taste
Cornmeal + flour for preparing the dough
1. Mix together the dough ingredients and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. You may need to add more water or flour to achieve the desired consistency.
2. Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes. If your house is cold, it may take longer or you can also try putting it inside a slightly warmed (be careful, NOT a hot oven, only about 100 degrees F or less) oven to speed the process.
3. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and shape it into 2 smooth balls, or 3 if you prefer smaller pizzas. Coat these dough balls in oil and cover and place them in their own separate bowls to rise again for about another 40 minutes. Letting the dough sit makes it easier to stretch and toss out, so don't rush it.
4. About 30 minutes before you will cook your pizzas, being preheating your oven and stone to 500 F or the hottest setting on your oven.
5. After about 40 minutes or so, the dough should be ready to form into a pizza. (If you forget and let it sit out a while longer, it should not be a problem). In order to form the dough, first flatten it slightly on a clean floured working surface, using your fingers. Coat the dough lightly in flour. Then pick it up and turn it from one hand to the other and it will stretch out with gravity. When the pizza gets large enough, form two fists and again turn from hand to hand, slightly stretching as you go. Stop when the crust is thin enough for your taste.
6. Place the pizza dough on a peel covered with cornmeal or flour. Check to see if the pizza shakes easily. If not, add more cornmeal on the peel.
7. Then add your toppings. For the classic pizza I added the sauce first then the cheese on top and finally some dried oregano and basil on top. For the margarita I coated the dough with olive oil first then added the mozzarella and finally the tomatoes on top so they wouldn't make the dough mushy. I topped it with black pepper and salt. Move your pizza peel to the stone and then gently shake of your pizza. Both of my pizzas cooked in 6 minutes in the preheated oven. I added fresh basil after the pizza finished cooking.