Sunday, May 20, 2012

Armenian Flatbread Pizza with Cheese

Armenian Flatbread Pizza with Cheese
makes 3  12-inch pizzas
                                                                           Prep time: 3 hours
                                                                           Pizza cook time: 12 minutes per

1 cup warm (105 ° F) water
1 envelope active dry yeast  (about 1 1/8 teaspoons)
¼ cup honey
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups bread flour, plus additional for work surface
4 teaspoon salt


1 ½  pound  lean ground beef  
1 cup drained petite diced tomatoes
¾  cup finely chopped onion
½  cup minced fresh Italian flat leaved parsley
½  cup finely chopped green pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 ½  teaspoons dried mint
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon paprika, or to taste
1/8 to ¼  teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

extra-virgin olive oil, to taste



1.  In a 2 cup measuring cup, combine the water and honey stir to combine and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes.  If the yeast doesn't "proof" (get "foamy") pour it out and start again it is important to have a live yeast mixture.
2.  Meanwhile place the flour and the salt into a sifter and sift it into the medium bowl  of a stand mixer.  Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the olive oil and the "proofed" yeast mixture.  Turn the mixer, fitted with dough hooks,  to high (labeled  knead on my mixer) and turn on.  Continue kneading (mixing) until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball around the dough hooks (scrap the sides of the bowl to move flour into the path of the hooks as needed).
3.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky (add flour gradually as needed to reach the slightly tacky state), 3 to 5 minutes.
4.  Lightly oil a large mixing bowl with about 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil the ball on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap cloth and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
5.  After the dough  has doubled in size, remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a 12-inch log.  Divide the log in thirds and form each half into equally sized dough balls.  Lightly oil a 3 large mixing bowl with about 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place each dough ball into its own bowl and turn to oil the ball on all sides. Cover each bowl with plastic and set in a warm, draft-free place until the nearly double in size again, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.


1.  Pre-heat oven to 450° F.
2.  In a medium sized skillet over medium heat lightly brown the ground beef until it is crumbly but still a little pink.  Remove from  heat and allow to cool.
3.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, onions, parsley, green pepper, tomato paste, mint, garlic, salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, and black pepper.   When the beef has cooled enough to handle, crumble the beef over the mixture and mix well.

construction and baking:

1.  Place an appropriately sized pizza stone on the middle shelf of your oven and pre-heat the oven to 450° F.
2.  Place one of the dough balls on a lightly floured work surface and flatten it into a thick disk then,  with your fingertips and palms and  working from the center of the disk out to the edges, press it into a thin disk of dough approximately 12-inch round and about 1/8 inch thick (if necessary use a rolling pin to achieve the 1/8-inch thickness [don’t worry if the pizza isn’t perfectly round . . . that’s called “rustica” and it’s the way “real” Italian pizza looks in Italy]).  If you're really brave you can try the spin and toss method of forming the pie (this dough is perfect for it) just remember to use your knuckles when spinning and tossing . . . fingertips can cause holes).  Sprinkle flour over the surface of this thin disk (this will become the bottom of the pie when you place the pizza base on the peel  in the next instruction).
3.  Distribute some corn meal over the surface of a pizza peel (this will act as “ball bearings” and allow the dough rounds to move easily over the surface of the peel) and transfer the formed pizza base onto the peel.   Spread 1/3  of  the meat mixture onto the base to within 1/2 –inch  of the edge to form a crust, distribute about ½ cup of cheddar evenly over the pie keeping the boarder free of topping.   Drizzle about 2-3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil over the pizza.
4.  Gently shake the peel to insure the pizza moves freely (if it doesn’t gently lift the edges of the pizza and distribute additional corn meal until it does), using the peel slide the pizza onto the stone and bake the pizza until browned and crisp at the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes in a 450°F oven.
5.  Repeat with remaining dough balls, topping, and cheese.


 As they come out of the oven, slice each pie into 8 wedge shaped slices and serve. 

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