Personal Pizzas

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Personal Pizzas

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Published prior to 2008

There are certain foods that are always popular, from season to season and year in, year out. One of these is chocolate cake. Another is pizza.

Most of us probably began eating pizza in the dim recesses of our childhood. Maybe we first sampled it in the school lunchroom, a thick, doughy rectangle topped with a tangle of congealed cheese. Or maybe Dad brought it home on Friday night, a much-awaited treat for everyone. The white cardboard box (with the drawing of the mustachioed, betoqued chef -- do all pizza makers buy their boxes from the same source?) would be ripped open to reveal a tempting round, sliced into wedges and usually bedecked with pepperoni, mushrooms, and all manner of other esoteric things one would never find on a school lunch pizza. Heaven!

To this day, I never grow tired of pizza. And I'll bet many people feel the same. You can't very well serve big, gooey slices of pizza at a party; they're too unwieldy. But you can serve these neat little mini-pizzas, no more than two or three mouthfuls each. Top them with a variety of meats, cheeses and vegetables, and guests can choose their own favorites -- more fun than the lunch line!

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups semolina flour*
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

*You may use all unbleached all-purpose flour, but semolina gives crust a nice, fine texture.

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, and stir in the salt, semolina flour, and enough of the unbleached flour to form a workable dough. Knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes by hand, 5 minutes in a mixer with dough hook, or 90 seconds in a food processor. Place in a clean, greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch down dough, knead a couple of times to remove all air bubbles, and let rest for several minutes (this relaxes the gluten, allowing you to shape dough more easily). Divide dough into 32 pieces. Roll or flatten each piece into a round approximately 3 inches across. Place rounds on several baking sheets and top with whatever you desire.** If you like thick pizzas, let rounds rise 30 to 45 minutes; if you like thin pizzas, bake immediately.

Bake pizzas for 10 to 12 minutes in a preheated 400°F oven, or until crust is golden brown. Serve warm. Makes 32 hors d'oeuvre-size pizzas.

**Don't limit yourself to traditional pizza toppings. Try one or more of the following:

o Salsa with black olives and Monterey Jack cheese (for a Mexican-flavor pizza).
o Ground, cooked ham and grated Swiss cheese.
o Rosemary, coarse salt and coarsely ground black pepper (for a mini-focaccia).
o Ground, cooked turkey, fennel seeds and tomato sauce (for a faux-sausage pizza).
o Ground, cooked ham, crushed, drained pineapple, and mild Cheddar cheese ("Hawaiian Pizza" -- very popular here in Vermont).
o Just plain olive oil and minced, fresh garlic, with a little Parmesan cheese if desired.

This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 2, December 1991 issue.