Sunday, July 29, 2012

Under the Californian Sun Pizza

I have a confession to make. I have not finished Under the Tuscan Sun yet. In fact, I started it in the spring, and I ended up putting it aside to read Game of Thrones. But I vow to finish it! You know why? Because I love you and I owe it to you…

And also the movie is fantastic.

I know, I know! I'm not supposed to see a movie before I read a book. But maybe an opportunity presented itself in the form of iTunes rentals approximately four or five years ago, and I simply could not help myself.

Escape and healing and renewal and rebirth and laughter and tears and outrage and relief and awe are this movie. Of course it's beautiful and of course it's Italian and yes, it is more of a girl movie. But you know what? It's not about fluffy romance, it's about starting over and letting yourself make mistakes that turn out perfectly in the end. It's about friends who take care of you and friends that you take care of, because sometimes being there for someone is just as therapeutic as someone being there for you. It's about relationships as vague as a daily smile at a regular passerby or as complex as a pair of star-crossed lovers. It's about family and friends.

And so was this meal. After finding ourselves home unexpectedly early from a backpacking trip cut short in May, the Boyf's family and I decided to have a last-minute Memorial Day soiree. We called my mom (who had my little sister with her) and my brother and had them come over. Ambitious people that we are, we decided to make a pizza (I give full credit for this idea to Boyf's lovely sister) from scratch.

Now, I have never made a pizza from scratch before. But if you start calling yourself the Baketress, people tell you to take charge in the kitchen.


I am totally okay with that.

We laughed and we talked and we had a great time just being with each other. I think we know the moral of Under the Tuscan Sun without even needing to finish the book.

I based my dough recipe on Emeril's Basic Pizza Dough Recipe (one of half a dozen, anyway), but added a bit of my own touch because… well, yum.

Under the Californian Sun Pizza

1 c warm water (105 to 115°F)
1 (¼-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
1 t honey
1 T extra-virgin olive oil plus extra
2 ¾ c unbleached all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
½ c grated parmesan cheese
2 T italian seasoning

1 can tomato sauce
1 onion
⅓ c butter

Lots of mozzarella cheese
For the rest, you can pick whatever you want! But we did two pizzas.
1. Artichokes, tomatoes, and sweet red peppers
2. Sauteed mushrooms and sausage

1. In a large bowl, mix water, yeast, honey, and 1 T of olive oil until combined. Let your yeasties sit in their bath until the mixture is foamy (5 minutes or so).

2. Mix together the flour, parmesan cheese, salt, and Italian seasoning.

3. Add half of the flour mixture into the yeast mixture and mix until smooth (which is much easier if you're willing to get your hands dirty).

4. Continue adding the rest of the flour mixture a little bit at the time until it's all mixed but still somewhat sticky-- you might not need all of the flour mixture!!

5. Flour a surface (a cutting board or clean countertop) and knead the dough on it. You want smooth but tacky (2-5 minutes).

6. Grease a large mixing bowl with the rest of the olive oil. Put the dough in the bowl, making sure to turn it until its coated in oil. Cover with plastic wrap (I greased this as well) and set in a warm place until it has doubled in size (we left ours about an hour and twenty minutes).

7. After the dough has been sitting for about an hour, slice an onion into small pieces. You could also slice your topping vegetables/meats, depending on what you chose.

8. Saute the onion with oodles of butter until they're soft and almost sweet.

9. Open the tomato sauce and pour it into a sauce pan over low heat, mixing often. Add the onions.

10. Spread the dough onto a pan. You can use cornmeal or oil to keep it from sticking, and you probably want to make sure the outer edge is raised enough to keep the sauce in.

11. Pour on the sauce. You will probably need less than you think!

12. Spread the toppings however you'd like. Pile on the cheese!

13. Stick it in the oven. We set it at 425°F and kept checking until the cheese and sauce seemed on the verge of bubbles. I believe it was 10-15 minutes.

These pizzas are best enjoyed with (what else?!) Italian wine.


  1. Such yummy pizza!! and I feel so special ;)

  2. Looks yummy except for the fungus. :)

  3. next time you can add some of your homemade goat cheese. so gooood. i love you, nani j.