We were a person short in baking this week, with one of our team members absent. It's so much easier to cook in a team of two versus a team of three or more, and I enjoyed the break from the chaos the third person brings to the group. We baked off our pizza dough that was made the previous week and mixed the sponges for the breads we'll be making next week. Because I had been testing pizza dough for the past several months for the blog, I decided to pan fry my dough with an infused olive oil, and then add toppings instead of baking the dough. I much prefer the texture and flavor of the fried dough, and the process is much faster.

Pan frying the dough is just like frying a cutlet. You’ll need an infused olive oil and about 6 ounces of dough per person, which will stretch to the size of a 10-inch skillet for a personal sized pizza:

Ingredients – Dough:
1 1/2 tsp. dried yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water (no more than 110 degrees)
3 2/3 cup all purpose flour, plus more for rolling/dusting
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients – Toppings:
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped – leave in big chunks
1 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
12 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips (chiffonade) or torn

(optional)
Pomodoro Fresca:
3 cups fresh diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
5 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips (chiffonade)

Directions:

Make the dough:
Dissolve the yeast in warm water, according to the package directions. Sift 3/4 of the flour into a large bowl and hollow out a well in the middle. Add the salt, sugar, olive oil. Add the yeast mixture after it blooms (package directions). Using your fingers, mix the ingredients in the middle, pulling in flour from the sides. Continue to do this until all of the ingredients are mixed and form a sticky ball of dough. Generously flour your work surface and pour the dough onto the surface. Knead the dough, adding flour as needed, for about 20 minutes to activate the yeast and gluten in the flour. When the kneading is finished, fold the edges under to make a smooth mound. Rub a little flour around the ball and place the dough into a bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place to rise for 2 hours. The dough should double in size. When the dough is ready, divide into 4 equal pieces and set aside to rest while you prepare the toppings.

Prepare the toppings:
Combine the olive oil, pepper, salt and garlic in a medium bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the garlic to infuse the oil. If you prefer a white pizza, the flavored oil will act as your sauce. If you prefer a tomato-based sauce, prepare the pomodoro fresca by combining all ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.

Make the Pizzas:
Shape each piece of dough into rounds, equal to the size of your skillet. Heat the skillet on medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of theinfused oil to the pan, leaving the garlic chunks in the bowl.

Place one piece of dough in the pan and allow to cook until the dough is golden brown on the side that is touching the oil (about 4-6 minutes). Adjust the heat as needed to prevent the dough from burning. Flip the dough over in the pan.

Brush the top of the dough with the flavored oil. If you are using the pomodoro fresca, spoon over the oiled dough. Place the mozzarella cheese slices on top of the dough and sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Top with 1/4 of the torn basil leaves and allow to bake in the pan until the 2nd side is golden brown and the middle is cooked through (approximately 4-6 minutes). If the cheese has not melted, place a cover over the pizza or tent the pan with aluminum foil. Repeat for the additional pieces of dough.