Katy’s Pizza

January 20, 2009 | By | COMMENTS

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Pizza god Adam Kuban of SliceNY and Serious Eats had this to say the last time I made pizza: “AmGour: I love ya and all, man, but you gotta spread that dough out thinner!”

A thin crust, it turns out, is the sine qua non of perfect pizza. The great pizzas of New York–Di Fara, Franny’s, and Una Pizza Napoletana–all have relatively thin crusts that don’t overwhelm the other pizza elements. But, I must confess, when I’m at home making pizza my goal isn’t to recreate these laudable thin-crust pizzas; my goal is to recreate my friend Katy’s pizza, from the days when she lived close by in Atlanta.

You were reacquainted with Katy last week when she and her husband Josh did a Q&A for my 5th anniversary week. Their interview mentioned their jaunt guest-blogging for me back in Ought 4 and I found myself revisiting that jaunt myself, last week, when I wanted to recreate Katy’s pizza.

There are two things about Katy’s pizza that might horrify pizza purists (Adam Kuban!) but which make Katy’s pizza the ultimate pizza comfort food to make at home: (1) it’s puffy; (2) it has brown sugar in it.

Yes, it’s a sweet puffy pizza. There’s no other way to describe it. And I love it. It’s bad for you (all that bread and sugar) but, at the same time, it’s so comforting that whatever stress you’re experiencing in life will instantly vanish; in that sense it’s really healthy because stress is bad for you, right?

Here’s what you do (and I paraphrase Katy here, so for her original words go here.) Dissolve a packet of yeast in one cup warm tap water. Add 2 Tbs of brown sugar and stir around.

In a separate bowl, mix 3 1/2 cups white flour (or, to make Katy’s version: 2 cups whole wheat + 1 1/2 cups white) with 1 teaspoon of salt (I doubled Katy’s amount, I’m salty) and a few handfuls of brown sugar. Now that “handful” business isn’t really helpful; I think I used less brown sugar than I could have. So let’s say at least 1/2 cup of brown sugar and maybe, just maybe, a full cup? Katy, what do you think about that?

Katy also adds chopped rosemary to the flour mixture, but I didn’t have any. If you do, add it!

Add the yeast mixture to the dry along with 2 Tbs olive oil. Oh, you should be doing all this in your Kitchen-Aid mixer bowl with the dough hook. If you don’t have that, you can do it by hand, but if you have a mixer, use it. Combine it into a big lump of dough and add some water to make it a sticky dough. Once it’s smooth like a baby’s bottom, dump it into a greased bowl and let rise for 2 hours with a damp towel over it.

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Once your dough is ready, it’s pretty easy from here on in.

Well, easy if you’re smart. I’m not very smart. Let me explain.

I divided the dough in two and rolled the first half on to some cornmeal and topped it with lots of toppings. I prepped some sausage, onions and mushrooms by sauteing them each individually in a little olive oil until cooked in a non-stick skillet. First the Italian sausage, which I broke up with my wooden spoon and cooked until just past pink; then onions which I sauteed (with some salt and pepper) until slightly golden brown; and then the mushrooms (also salt and pepper) which I also let get brown.

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Then it was pure assembly: on to the pizza dough I spooned some Colavita-brand marinara sauce, the onions, the mushrooms, and sausage and then some fresh mozzarella which I sliced into big chunks. I added some grated Parmesan too.

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Now for the idiocy. I had my cast-iron skillet heating in a 450 oven upside down. My goal was to cook the pizza on the back of the cast-iron skillet, to simulate a pizza stone. Only problem: how to get the pizza from my cutting board, into the oven on to the cast-iron?

I attempted to lift the pizza. It was like lifting up a piece of melting plastic in the hot sun; it would dip and sag and abosolutely refuse to go anywhere. Thankfully, it was then that I remembered I had a pizza peel.

I dug it out from between the refrigerator and the counter, washed it (it was covered with dust and cat hair: mmm!), and used it to transfer the pizza to the back of the cast-iron skillet.

But the idiocy doesn’t end there. The pizza was larger than the skillet, so it sagged over the sides. Once in the oven, the toppings slid off like children at a waterpark and by the time that first pizza was done (12 – 15 minutes later) there was more pizza on the floor of my oven than on top of the pizza itself.

Ugh.

Thank goodness I’d divided that dough in two. The second pizza I made fared much, much better because I cooked it inside the actual skillet. (Smart!)

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I wish I would’ve heeded Josh’s advice, which came via e-mail after I’d already made the pizza, to get the cast iron scorchingly hot before adding the pizza. If I’d done that, I think the pizza would’ve had more char and character.

But as it was, it was a good old fashioned Katy pizza. Robust and satisfying, sweet from the sugar but savory with all those toppings, this is a perfect pizza to serve with a little arugula salad and cherry tomatoes:

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Pizza-eaters in residence agreed: this was a satisfying pizza. And super easy and cheap (cheaper than ordering in a pizza, actually.) So in these hard economic times, don’t be a pizza snob: make Katy’s pizza and put a smile on your face. You may not go head-to-head with Mr. DiFara (Don DeMarco) or Ms. Franny of Franny’s (is there a Franny?) but you’ll make the people you live with very happy on a cold, winter’s night.

Tags: , ,

Categories: Bread and Pizza, Recipes

  • http://fastfoodiecooks.com Devon

    I am definitely NOT a pizza snob. In fact, I don’t eat that much pizza anymore due to wheat sensitivities. That said, after particularly long runs or races, I love diving into a few slices. When I raced in Italy recently, I crossed the finish line and sprinted straight into a pizza joint for a big floppy slice. And sometimes I throw down a gluten free crust and make my own.

    This pizza looks as equally as satisfying. Thick, thin, traditional or not, there is always a place, a time (and a reason) for each. Looks delicious!

  • http://www.joshphillipson.com Josh Phillipson

    Late advice is my new thing.

    Hey – vote for Obama in the primary. I think he could be going places.

  • http://tokyoastrogirl.blogspot.com/ tokyastrogirl

    Your pan pizza looks delicious!

    I have these thick, sturdy cookie sheets (aka jelly roll pans…maybe an inch or so high) that don’t buckle in the oven. So I stick one of those into my 500 degree preheated oven and it works out really well for pizza. The dough starts cracking instantly (kind of like the Zuni Cafe roast chicken does when IT hits the hot pan) and it really helps to make a crisp crust. I have a pizza stone but I keep it in my gas grill outside since it gets SUPER hot…waaay hotter than an oven. So either of those work well.

    :)

    TAG

  • http://www.cherryblossomsandvodka.blogspot.com Caz

    Looks yummy! While 99% of the time I’m all for thin-crust pizza, my university had a pizza joint (Pie R Squared -nerdy but good for university eh?) that made very thick crusted pizza. It was delicious.

    And all that crust was perfect for soaking up the one-too-many beers consumed in the campus pub at 2am.

  • http://theprojectivist.blogspot.com/ the projectivist

    yum!

    that looks fantastic.

    now come on, be honest.

    you didn’t eat one bit of that salad now, did you?

    after the pic was taken, you removed it and loaded yourself up some more pizza!

  • http://www.cherryblossomsandvodka.blogspot.com Caz

    Looks yummy! While 99% of the time I’m all for thin-crust pizza, my university had a pizza joint (Pie R Squared -nerdy but good for university eh?) that made very thick crusted pizza. It was delicious.

    And all that crust was perfect for soaking up the one-too-many beers consumed in the campus pub at 2am.

  • http://lesjoujou.blogspot.com Stephanie

    Thin pizza? No way! The Chicago in me loves a thick crust. I’ll have to try this out.

  • http://smallkitchenbigideas.wordpress.com Sara

    I am from Chicago, too, so I am all about thick crust or even better, stuffed pizza.

    Don’t feel too bad about your first attempt; the second looked great.

  • http://www.selbyfood.blogspot.com Selba

    I love pizza! But I’ve never made my own pizza, always buy from the Italian restaurants or Pizza Hut :)

  • Marcy

    The children at a waterpark thing cracked me up. Little zingers like that one are what make you special.

  • http://whatilikenyc.blogspot.com Laura

    Well after attempting to crack a coconut by slamming it down on my kitchen floor (in case you’re wondering, it did in fact split open and I had coconut water all over both me and the floor) I certainly can’t make fun of you for the back of the pan thing. But that looks amazing, and occasionally I’m in the mood for some really bready pizza so this is perfect for those times. And I’m totally intrigued by the brown sugar.

  • http://plumemultiple.blogspot.com/ Plume

    Seems you nearly achieved to make a recipe described here:

    http://yeahthatveganshit.blogspot.com/2008/09/fucking-motherfuck.html

    A little more practice and the success is yours!

    That seems a lot of sugar, though…

  • megsny

    I love making pizza at home, but it is NEVER the same as pizza out and about, and that’s just fine with me. I don’t have a super hot coal or wood oven, and I don’t have the skills or the inclination to perfect a thin crust. Homemade pizza is its own delicious thing in my book, and I commend your striving toward the Katy pizza instead of busting your ass trying to make the perfect neopolitan in a home kitchen. Way to go!

    p.s. Thanks for the cast iron tip — I am far too lazy to ever cart a pizza stone home on the subway, and the fact that my oversized cast iron skillet just might be perfect for crispy-chewy pizza awesomeness would probably not have occurred to me on my own.

  • http://kitchengraffiti.blogspot.com margaux

    I grew up eating a thick crust pizza that was completely weighted down with toppings and cheese, and I can’t give it up. I add rosemary to my crust, too, and it really does give the whole thing a nice flavour. Looks incredible.

  • http://andtheforkrunsoffwiththespoon.blogspot.com Christine

    I just made an impulse buy on a cast iron skillet!

    The countdown for sweet pizza begins.

  • http://andtheforkrunsoffwiththespoon.blogspot.com Christine

    I just made an impulse buy on a cast iron skillet!

    The countdown for sweet pizza begins.

  • http://andtheforkrunsoffwiththespoon.blogspot.com Christine

    I just made an impulse buy on a cast iron skillet!

    The countdown for sweet pizza begins.