The Baking Illustrated Challenge: Pesto Pizza

The Baking Illustrated Challenge:      Pesto Pizza

 I would love to say that I completely love Pesto pizza, however I do not. While it was okay it was not great. The pizza crust was phenomenal!!! I am getting better each time I make pizza. This is the first time that my pizza crust has come out perfect, minus the shape. I can not seem to get the dough to be perfectly round, and even if I do I still have to transfer it to the stone which in turn makes it loose its shape. You can either bake the pizza then top it with the pesto or spread the pesto on the dough and then place on the hot pizza stone. I prefer the second way as the crust doesnt come out as crunchy.

I topped the last round of dough with garlic, butter, and olive oil. This was amazing…. perfect crust, flavor, and it balanced out our meal of pesto pizza!

I think if I were to make this again I would add tomatoes, cheese, and some type of meat or mushrooms (preferably when the husband isnt around as he is allergic)

Pizza Dough by Baking Illustrated


½ cup warm water
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
4 c bread flour, plus more for dusting
1½ tsp. salt
1¼ cup water, at room temperature
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil


Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.  Sprinkle the yeast over the top.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend.  Measure the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture.  With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture as well as the olive oil.  Mix until a cohesive dough is formed.  Switch to the dough hook.  Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1½-2 hours.Press down the dough to deflate it.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball.  (If freezing the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at this point.)  Cover with a damp cloth.  Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.To bake, preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500˚ F for at least 30 minutes.  Transfer the dough to your shaping surface, lightly sprinkled with cornmeal.  Shape the dough with lightly floured hands.  Brush the outer edge lightly with olive oil.  Top as desired.  Bake until the crust is golden brown, and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes.

1/4 cup pine nuts
3 medium garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
7 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

To make the pesto, toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat until just golden and fragrant,  Set aside.  Add the garlic to the empty skillet and toast, shaking occasionally, until the cloves are fragrant and their color deepens slightly, about 7 minutes.  Transfer the cloves to a cutting board; cool, peel and chop.  Place the basil in a heavy-duty gallon-sized plastic bag.  Pound the bag with a rolling pin until all the leaves are bruised.

Combine the pine nuts, garlic, basil, olive oil and 1/2 tsp. salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl, stir in the Parmesan cheese, and adjust the salt to taste.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


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