My fear of yeast is pretty epic. We are talking category 5 fear here – the kind of thing that keeps you awake at night, shivering under your down comforter in 90 degree weather. I am constantly cold so I do that anyway, but I realize the average person might find such a situation slightly discomforting. Hence the analogy.

Anyway. I have a feeling that this trepidation stems from the fact that I worked in a yeast lab for three summers. You stare at little yeast cells under a microscope for 8 hours a day and then try to tell me that those little packets in the supermarket don’t give you nightmares or send a shiver down your spine. It’s impossible.
But there comes a time when you just need to throw caution to the wind. Bite the bullet. Take one for the team. And so when Tiffany came to visit I thought to myself, “Hey. Wouldn’t it be fun if we made pizza?” At least then she would be there to protect me from the big bad dry active yeast. Just in case it realized that I had subjected many of its forebears to all kinds of mutagenesis and decided to stage a coup. You never know with these things. Always best to be cautious.

So I got home from class the day that we were going to take on this feat of monstrous proportions and mixed together my first batch of dough using Giada’s recipe from the food network website. Something about it seemed kind of off but I went to the gym anyway, leaving it in a covered bowl on the table to rise. I figured if it looked the same when I got back, I would just start again. Sure enough, I returned home to find the same small, unrisen lump of flour and water that I had left.

Those damn buggers must have smelled the blood of their ancestors on my hands and decided to jump ship while they still could. The evil you know is always better than the one you don’t kind-of thing.

Take two. I preheated my water to the exact right temperature (anywhere between 105 and 115 – I went with 110 according to my candy thermometer). Mixed in my yeast with a little bit of sugar. Waited. All of a sudden, after about 5 minutes, when I was just beginning to give up hope I heard some bubbling coming from the bowl on the table. Sure enough, the yeast was foaming! I did a few cartwheels around my kitchen table to celebrate, fervently mixed together the rest of the ingredients and left it to rise. When I came back an hour later, it had more than doubled in size. (Donna insert – I tend to have that effect on people.) It was huge. (Michael Scott insert – That’s what she said.).

So we punched down the dough, rolled it out, and topped it with some mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, arugula, and roasted garlic. Threw it in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the bottom was brown (my dad says that is the only way to truly know when a pizza is done). And the rest is history.

This was actually one of the best pizza crusts I’ve ever had. Nice and fluffy. But then again, I’ve never been one for a thin crust.
Pizza with Fresh Tomatoes, Arugula, Mozzarella, and Roasted Garlic
Serves 3-4, adapted from Giada de Laurentis

1/2 cup warm water
1 package dry yeast
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil

1. Mix the warm water and yeast in a small bowl to blend. Let stand for 5 minutes (it should be bubbling). Mix the flour and salt in a food processor to blend. Combine the flour with the yeast mixture just until the dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl and turn to coat with the oil. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside until it doubles in volume, about 1 hour.

1 head garlic
1 cup mozzarella
1 large tomato, sliced

2. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400. Slice the head of garlic in half and wrap each half in aluminum foil. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until cloves are slightly browned and soft.

3. Raise the oven temperature to 450. Roll out the pizza dough into a 12-inch round. Grease your pizza plate. Place the dough onto the plate.

4. Add a layer of mozzarella, followed by the sliced tomato, arugula, and roasted garlic cloves. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake, about 15 minutes until the crust is browned on the bottom.
I also need to announce that this week I will be the host of Presto Pasta Nights! This is an awesome weekly event created by Ruth over at Once Upon A Feast to celebrate our love of everyone’s favorite carb. The rules can be found here. Basically, send in your pasta dishes to me at [email protected] and cc-ing Ruth ([email protected]) before Thursday at midnight. Be sure to tell me the link to your dish as well as to send in a picture! I can’t wait to see what you guys are cooking up.

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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22 Responses to Adventures with Yeast – Pizza with Arugula, Tomatoes, and Roasted Garlic

  1. Amy says:

    I am totally intimidated by yeast!! I will avoid any recipe at all costs that requires it. I, however, have absolutely no rationale, unlike you, so it’s super silly.

    I have no doubt this pizza was outstanding. I’ve had many a homemade pizza pie made for me and it was always better than take-out. I want this for lunch.

    Oh, and I love PPN! Yea for you for hosting!

  2. Palidor says:

    Great job with the pizza! I don’t like thin crust either… the crust should be soft and slightly chewy. Seems you have more than conquered your fear of yeast.

  3. gaga says:

    That pizza looks perfect! The crust is not too thin and not too thick. Looks great!

  4. SnoWhite says:

    yeah for yeast!!! I’m excited that you had success — that pizza looks fantastic.

  5. Mm that looks great, Joanne! It’s surprising how easy and tasty homemade pizza can be, especially if you have a pizza stone (they’re great for keeping your oven’s temperature more consistent too). Fresh simple toppings like these are my favorite.

  6. Tiffany says:

    From this post I conclude:
    a) We make a great team!
    b) I should be a hand model.

  7. Mari says:

    Wow that pizza looks so freaking good, so good that I had to only glimpse at the pics before I picked up the phone and order some for myself…no pizza for me =(

    congrats on conquering your yeast fear

  8. Karine says:

    Hahaha I am also intimidated by yeast! It makes me stay away from amking my own bread and my own pizza dough…

    However, I have never seen yeast in a lab (maybe that is good for me..).

    You seem to have had a great success with your pizza dough! 🙂

  9. Donna-FFW says:

    Doubled in size, you dont give yourself enough credit, I bet you could make one triple if u put your mind to it:)

  10. Jen says:

    I loves me some pizza, looks delicious!

  11. Pam says:

    There is nothing like your own homemade pizza.

  12. Kim says:

    That pizza looks remarkable and delicious! I know what you mean about yeast. I had a bad experience years ago with it and was scared to try again. Now I’m baking with yeast all the time and pizza is one of my favorite ways to use yeast. I love that this pizza has an entire head of garlic- you know it’s good with that much garlic!!

  13. Elra says:

    Hmm delicious food for the weekend. YUM!

  14. Home-made pizza is the best! This looks so delicious – love the toppings!

  15. Marcia says:

    I have a LONG history of failure at pizza dough myself. I had to laugh reading this post. There were many a day, that after an hour of trying, ending up calling for delivery.

    On my blog, actually I have a few posts where I eventually mastered pizza dough. The whole point of my blog started as a record – so that when I got the best pizza dough (given my own limitations) and the best roast chicken, I could look it up again!!

    Good work! You got it faster than I did…

  16. tigerfish says:

    I enjoy thin-crust pizza and those ingredients you are having for pizza toppings.

  17. Congratulations on conquering your fear of yeast and creating that beautiful pizza!
    Temp is usually the culprit with yeast. Great that it all worked out. 🙂

  18. Elizabeth says:

    Congrats on working with yeast – I usually just let my breadmaker do the work so I don’t have to deal with it. Your pizza looks delicious!

  19. Debinhawaii says:

    Good for you on conquering the fear. Mine is still probably 4.5 on the yeat fear scale even having used it a few times. 😉 Your pizza looks yummy and I’ll have to come up with a PPN dish since you are hosting this week.

  20. girlichef says:

    AMAZING!! I think I could probably eat the whole delicious pie. Way to whip those buggers into “shape”. HA! 😉

  21. Soma says:

    That pizza is very very droolworthy:-D

    Just sent you my entry for PPN#134.

  22. Kerstin says:

    Yay for conquering yeast! Your pizza crust looks perfect – yum!

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