Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mad Pizza Skillz

Living in Los Angeles is a vegan pizza lover's dream. There are so many places offering vegan pizzas and even one pizzeria that has gone totally vegan. Even with all these options I still find it necessary to make my own pies at home. Why? Besides having "mad pizza skillz" it's way more cost effective. Unfortunately vegan pizzeria's break my bank. It's easy to spend upwards of $30 on one pie. I can eat three to four times as much homemade pizza for that price! Although you may sweat a little (or a lot) making these this summer, they are totally worth the effort. Sure you can buy pre-made dough at Trader Joe's (I used to) but making your own pies from scratch will make you feel extra radtastic in the kitchen.

Basic Pizza Dough

  • 3 cups unbleached, bread flour 
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to coat
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons vegan sugar


Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water and let stand 10 minutes or so, until the mixture begins to froth up. In a large bowl mix bread flour, sugar and salt. Add the yeast mixture and olive oil, blend then mix with hands to form the dough. Knead for 7 - 10 minutes. This also doubles as a good arm workout so reap the rewards. If you have a buff significant other or roommate, let them do the dirty work. Also, kneading helps build up the gluten in the dough which makes for a nice chewy crust. So knead some more if you like. Form into a ball, lightly oil the surface, cover with plastic wrap or a clean, lightly dampened towel and allow to rest for 1 hour in a well oiled bowl.

While the dough rests get all your toppings prepped. After the dough has rested for an hour remove from the bowl, split into two balls for two medium thin crust pizzas or 1 extra large pizza. Stretch and roll out dough on a cold pizza stone or lightly oiled metal pan. Cover with your sauce and favorite toppings and bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-35 minutes depending on your oven and preferences. If you have a peel, slide that bad boy on a pre heated stone.


Invest in a pizza stone and peel if possible. You can probably find one under $10 at a discount retail shop (Ross, Big Lots, etc). Sometimes they even come in sets with a pizza cutter and serving tray.

Sometimes I use my favorite jar variety marinara sauce. It's great in a pinch, but tends to be too watery for pizza. Try making your own pizza sauce using tomato paste, a couple tablespoons of water, minced garlic, fresh and/or dried herbs, red pepper flakes, a pinch of sugar and salt and pepper to taste. I love having another reason to use fresh herbs from my garden. Try combining basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary.

To keep your dough from sticking to the stone sprinkle a thin layer of cornmeal.

For an extra crispy crust pre-heat your pizza stone, sprinkle with cornmeal, then roll out the dough on the stone and work quickly to get all the sauce and toppings placed.

If you want a slight crispiness with a soft and chewy crust, roll your dough on a room temperature stone.

For extra flavor brush the edges of your pizza crust with olive oil during the last 5 minutes of baking. Sprinkle on a little sesame seed while you're at it.

This dough can be used to make bread sticks or garlic bread twists. Just roll it out into long, skinny logs and twist together. Coat with vegan margarine, minced garlic, salt, nutrition yeast and fresh or dried herbs. Or try stuffing them with vegan cheese for cheesy bread. They are insanely tasty with marinara sauce. I've even made sweets with this dough using vegan margarine, diced apples, cinnamon and sugar. Just roll them up like cinnamon rolls.

Extra dough can be kept refrigerated up to 5 days. If using dough that has been refrigerated, place on counter and allow dough to come to room temperature before attempting to roll out and bake.

Here are some of my favorite pizza topping combinations:

Supreme style:
Daiya Italian blend vegan cheese, Field Roast Italian sausage, roasted garlic, black olives, baby bella mushrooms, green bell peppers, tomatoes and red onion with fresh basil

Garden blend: Daiya Italian blend vegan cheese, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic and spinach

BBQ Chicken: BBQ sauce base, Gardein chicken strips coated in BBQ sauce, red onions, tempeh bacon and Daiya Italian Blend vegan cheese topped with fresh cilantro

Gourmet style: Artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and roasted garlic with a bechamel sauce base.

Margherita: Lots of vegan cheese and fresh tomato slices. When removed from the oven, top with fresh basil. The heat from the pizza will lightly wilt the basil and release the aromatics. It's a classic combo with tons of flavor.

The possibilities are endless and there are tons of awesome mock meats and vegan cheeses (I'm a big fan of Teese and Daiya) on the market. Go crazy! Don't be surprised if you want to start lining your oven with bricks once you've mastered this recipe.

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