I’m a visual learner. I’m the original demographic for DIY and how-to videos. Lucky for me, and others like me, there’s Craftsy.
This post is part of my on-going partnership with Craftsy, to share what I’ve learned from their online classes. This time around we’re talking and teaching pizza. And bonus, this class that has an Italian classic fare is FREE.
This free Craftsy class is taught by master baker Peter Reinhart who shares the ins and outs, stretches and punches of Perfect Pizza at Home. It made a fab base for my Pesto Pizza with Fresh Tomatoes and Mozzarella. I used the pesto recipe Reinhart shares in the class to compliment my first harvest of my garden’s Supersweet 100 baby tomatoes (yes, they are THAT sweet!) and fresh mozzarella from the farmer’s market.
So let’s get down to it and talk about what I like about this Perfect Pizza.
About the classes
First off, sign up for the free classes here.
All of the classes are broken down into segments that can be easily viewed and re-played. As many times as you want. Plus, you can pause as you go. It made explaining pizza dough to Smudge super easy. We saw just how pliable and tacky—or not—the dough should be thanks to the windowpane method. That alone was worth the view and is a huge reason the video is so helpful.
Each video comes with course materials aka a downloadable PDF, that lists the ingredients and some of the methods to complement the lessons. I recommend reviewing them first to go along with watching the lessons.
You can ask questions about the recipe to others taking the free class or of the instructors in the paid classes. Once you create your account you can also keep track of your classes and take video notes too.
About the perfect pizza
Reinhart shares recipes for 5 different doughs (including a gluten-free version), recipes for five different sauces (I used his pesto sauce for this recipe) and his no-knead method for developing a great crust. That was super helpful since my hand is in a cast and not knead-worthy. My sous chefs thought so too. And BTW, how did her 10-year-old-hands turn into looking like teenager-hands??? UGGGGGH!
I prefer a thin crust pizza so I tried the dough that master baker Peter Reinhart calls the Neapolitan dough—or American style.
This pizza isn’t your spur-of-the-moment, make at home pizza crust recipe. But if you plan ahead and allow for a few hours or overnight time in the fridge for the gluten to develop, this crust is great.
A few tips I took to the kitchen from Perfect Pizza at Home
I usually use Italian style 00 flour for my pizza dough, but this time I followed Reinhart’s directions to use bread flour. What’s the diff? Bread flour has more protein than all-purpose, and helps with gluten development. Which results in a delectably chewy pizza crust.
Use the paddle attachment on the stand mixer instead of the bread hook. The paddle brings the dough together quicker.
With Reinhart’s method, there’s no need for a lot of kneading. Instead, he shows how to stretch and fold your way to the ultimate soft and supple pizza dough in 5 minute blasts. My husband re-watched this part of the video to get the right effect.
The key to a great pizza dough is long, slow, cold fermentation. Some time in the refrigerator before baking does the trick.
Making a round pizza takes patience, and time. Let the dough rest as you shape it. The dough will want to spring back into its smaller shape if the gluten is too tight. Take your time and a round pizza will be in your future.
You may think more sauce makes a better pizza, but really it just makes a soggy mess. I like Reinhart’s philosophy to simply “kiss the dough with the sauce.”
I’ve had a serious desire to make focaccia at home too, but it always seemed too intimidating. Now with the steps being spelled out in the pizza class I’m definitely thinking I can swing it.
But until I do, I’ll stick with the classic pizza pie.
Pesto Pizza with Fresh Tomatoes and Mozzarella
- 1 batch Neapolitan pizza dough recipe here
- 8 cloves garlic coarsely chopped and tossed in 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves washed and stemmed and tightly packed
- ¾ cup parmesan cheese grated
- 1 cup pinenuts lightly toasted
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- ½ pound small or cherry tomatoes
- 2 cups fontina or provolone cheese grated
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella sliced
- red pepper flakes
- basil leaves for garnish
Prepare the Neapolitan pizza dough and let rise overnight in the refrigerator.
Preheat a pizza stone in the oven set to 500 degrees F. Make pizza crusts according to the video directions on Craftsy.
Prepare the pesto. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add the chopped garlic and olive oil mixture. Stir for 15 seconds and remove from heat. You want to seat the garlic, not brown it.
Place the basil leaves, parmesan, pine nuts, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic oil mixture into a food processor. Pulse until the basil has broken down and the ingredients are mixed. The mixture should be bright green and have a pebbly texture. It should be thin enough to spread but not runny. Add kosher salt to taste and add more olive oil if the sauce is too thick. Transfer the sauce to a container or bowl.
Prepare the pizza rounds according to the directions in this free online class from Craftsy. Dust a baker's peel with flour and carefully transfer one pizza round to the peel.
Lightly spread the pesto sauce on the pizza dough leaving a 1-inch border, then sprinkle with shredded cheese and 3 slices of the fresh mozzarella. Top with slices of tomatoes and extra shredded parmesan if desired.
Line up the edge of the baker’s peel with far edge of stone, tilt peel and jerk the pizza onto the hot pizza stone. Bake the pizza until the dough is crisp and brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the pizza on the peel to a cutting board, cut into slices and serve immediately. Top with more pesto, fresh basil leaves and crushed red pepper flakes if desired.
Sign up to take the FREE Perfect Pizza at home and other Craftsy classes here. BONUS! All paid classes are 50% off from August 7 thru August 11!
This post is sponsored by Craftsy. As always, thank you for reading and supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. This post contains affiliate links. As always, all opinions are my own.