Friday, March 14, 2014

Celebrate Pi Day with Pizza in Pienza!

Happy Pi Day! Today is March 14, or 3.14. We think Pi Day is the best day of the year because it's the perfect excuse to eat pie.

This year, we’re celebrating by reading Susan Fillion’s Pizza in Pienza and dreaming of a cheesy, buttery slice. Pizza in Pienza’s narrator is dreaming of pizza, too; she proudly says, “Even when I’m eating spaghetti, I’m dreaming about the next pizza pie.” Or in Italian—“Anche mentre mangio gli spaghetti sogno la mia prossima pizza.”

Pizza in Pienza is a gorgeous children’s book about the history of pizza pie. Did you know that the Pizza Margherita was invented to resemble the Italian flag?

Here is a pizza recipe by Susan Fillion. Celebrate Pi Day by reading Pizza in Pienza and make a wonderful, delicious treat! 

Ingredients for the dough (to make two 12-inch pizzas or one large one):
3 cups flour (regular, unbleached)
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
approximately 1 1/4 cup barely warm water with 1 teaspoon olive oil added

Ingredients for the topping:
8 ounces whole San Marzano tomatoes. Drain and crush the tomatoes by hand. You can use fresh ones, but they can be watery.
8 ounces mozzarella. Use either fresh cow’s milk mozzarella or mozzarella di bufala. Cut into slices or chunks.
a handful of fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt to season

Note: In Naples, the pizzas have a sparse amount of tomato and mozzarella. You can, of course, use an infinite variety of other toppings instead of this classic Neapolitan Margherita.

If you are kneading by hand, put all dry ingredients in a large bowl, add the liquid gradually, stirring as best you can with a large spoon until it begins sticking together into a ball. Then dump it out onto a floured surface, and knead, constantly folding the dough over onto itself, until smooth and soft. This may take about 10 minutes.

If you are using a food processor, put all dry ingredients in the bowl. With the motor running, add about a cup of the water/oil mixture in a slow, steady stream, then stop the machine and check the dough. If it still feels dry, turn it back on and add more liquid. Keep doing this until it feels soft and forms a ball. Process for about 30 seconds, total. Cover your hands with flour before removing the dough from the processor in case the dough is too sticky to handle.

Put the dough in a greased bowl, turn it to oil it all over, then cover the top of the bowl loosely with a plastic bag or plastic wrap. Place a towel over the plastic. If the room is cool, place the bowl with dough over a smaller bowl of warm water. Let rise about an hour, then divide in two, and let each ball rise again, in separate oiled bowls.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Form each ball of dough into a large, flat disk, place it on a metal sheet with a rim, and spread it out until thin but not too thin. This will take some time, since the dough wants to keep shrinking. Brush the edge with olive oil. Add the toppings and bake for 10 minutes or until the edges and the cheese are nicely browned. Let cool a few minutes before cutting.

Author Susan Fillion is a master pizza chef!

If you would like more information about Pizza in Pienza, click here. We hope you have a happy Pi Day!

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