Practically everyone loves pizza. In our home it’s a once a week family event. It’s everyone’s favorite. In fact, we often have extras around the table. Even our adult friends want to join in. I think it’s so popular because we all get to select our own pizza toppings. Pizzas come out of the oven piping hot and dressed up exactly the way each diner wants. This is a great menu item if you have a mixture of vegetarians and meat eaters to feed.
We prefer to use homemade focaccia dough for the base of our individual sized pizzas. The recipe below will yield 6 oval shaped focaccia flat-breads, each approximately 4” x 8”. If you are feeding a gang the recipe can easily be doubled.
As an aside – you can make up a batch of focaccia flatbreads using this recipe and simply grill them on your BBQ that’s been pre-heated to a medium high temperature. When you roll them out make sure they are only about ¼” thick before they hit the grill. They’ll only take one or 2 minutes per side at this temperature. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle on your favorite herbs and spices before grilling. You can also freeze these tasty flat-breads for use another day.
Homemade Focaccia Flatbread
This quick and easy flatbread recipe has only five ingredients. While it goes together quickly, it does take time for the dough to rise so you will have to plan ahead accordingly. It will take you about 15 -20 minutes to gather your ingredients and mix up the dough, another 8 – 10 minutes to knead the dough followed by one 1 ½ hours for the dough to double in bulk. So, you will want to start the process about 2 hours before you plan to actually dress the oval flatbread for baking.
- 3 ¼ C plus ¼ c unbleached white flour, (approximately)
- 2 tsp quick-rising instant dry yeast
- 1 tsp Kosher salt flakes
- 1 1/3 cup warm water
- 1 T (10 mL) olive oil
- Combine 3 ¼ C of the unbleached white flour with the yeast and Kosher salt flakes in a large bowl. Set aside the last ¼ C of flour for use later when you are ready to knead the dough.
- Add the olive oil to the warm water and pour this over the flour mixture. Use a wooden spoon to mix everything together into a shaggy ball.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface using flour from the ¼ C you set aside earlier. Sprinkle the flour onto the counter surface as needed.
- Knead the dough for about 8 – 10 minutes until it becomes smooth, elastic and no longer sticks to the counter surface.
- Lightly coat a large bowl with oil. The bowl should be large enough to contain the focaccia dough when it has doubled in bulk. Holding the dough upside down swish it around in the bowl
- Lightly coat a large bowl with oil. The bowl should be large enough to contain the focaccia dough when it has doubled in bulk. Holding the dough upside down swish it around in the bowl then flip it right side up. It should be nicely coated with the oil now. Cover with a clean tea towel and place in a slightly warm, draft-free place to rise. It will take about 1 ½ hours for the dough to double in bulk.
While the dough is rising it’s time to prep the pizza toppings. A list of suggestions follows but really your choices will depend on your family and friend’s preferences.
Sauces: pizza sauce, BBQ sauce, Alfredo sauce, pesto (different types)
Veggies: raw onion, caramelized onion, minced garlic, peppers, roasted pepper slices, sliced mushrooms, sliced artichokes, green olives, black olives
Meats: pepperoni, other salamis, shredded cooked chicken, pulled pork, cooked Italian sausage meat, cooked ground beef, bacon
Cheeses: fresh un-ripened mozzarella, regular mozzarella, provolone, asiago, parmesan, cheddar, feta
Garnishes: basil leaves, arugula, grated parmesan cheese
When the dough has doubled in bulk you are ready to proceed. Punch down the dough and divide it into six equal sized pieces. Pat each piece into an oval shape and then flatten each dough oval out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. Continue to roll out the dough until each oval is approximately 4”x 8”. (See added note at the end of the article about grilling these flatbreads on the grill!)
Now the fun begins! Each family member and guest is free to dress their own pizza the way they want with the various toppings you have provided. While they are working on their pizzas you can pre-heat the oven to 450 F.
Carefully place the dressed pizzas onto flat baking pans that have had a quick coating with a vegetable oil spray. We use a pan that is perforated with tiny holes, made specifically for baking pizzas in the oven. This type of pan allows the bottom of the pizza to crisp up nicely but a cookie sheet will also work if this style of pan is not available. We are able to fit 3 individual sized pizzas onto each pan so can bake 6 pizzas at once.
Bake for 8 – 10 minutes on the middle rack of the pre-heated (450 F) oven. Have fun!