Introduction: White Pizza: Spinach & Artichoke Hearts

About: mechanical engineer by day, noisy neighbor by night.

Pizza can be a quick, easy and very comforting meal. I hope to show you how to make an alternative to the classic...a white pizza. This pizza uses no red sauce. Instead a white sauce base consisting of greek yogurt is used. Here, I will show you how to make the dough as well but if you wish to use store bought pizza dough (I recommend Trader Joe's) skip to Step 3. I highly recommend making your own dough-- it's easy, cheap, tastes better, and it is much easier to work with. Below is a list of ingredients used.

Dough (Optional, makes two 10" pizzas):

Weight (Baker's %) Ingredient

  • 150g (50%) Caputo "00" Pizza Flour
  • 150g (50%) King Arthur Bread Flour
  • 10g (3.3%) Fine Sea Salt
  • 190g (63.3%) Tepid Tap Water
  • 2g (0.7%) Instant Dry Yeast

When making pizza dough, weights and hydration ratios are very important. It is essential to use a scale and not measure by volume.

Toppings (Make one 10" pizza):

  • Canned Artichoke Hearts
  • One large fist-full of baby spinach (chopped)
  • One large clove of garlic (chopped finely)
  • 3/4 cup of greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons of goat cheese
  • 2 deli slices of provolone cheese (broken up)
  • 2 thick slices of low moisture, whole milk mozzarella (broken up)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Items that will enhance your pizza making experience:

Okay lets start making some pizza. We will start by making the dough. If you are using store bought dough, skip to Step 3.

Step 1: Making Dough (Optional, 5 Minutes)

The dough which I will make requires about 6 minutes of prep time and 3-5 days to properly rise. I usually make my dough ahead of time and make enough for 2 pizzas. There are many ways to make pizza dough, however, I find that this cold rise method and formula works very well in a home environment. Many of the traditional dough recipes assume you will be using a pizza oven which can achieve a higher temperature than your oven.

The process:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients (flour and salt) in a mixing bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, add the yeast to the water. Mix with a spoon until the yeast dissolves and the water turns cloudy white.
  3. Mix the yeast and water solution with the dry ingredients until all the flour has been hydrated and it comes together to form a lumpy ball. No need to knead the dough just yet.
  4. Cover the mixing bowl with a towel, store at a room temperature between 60-80F and set a timer for 30 minutes. This waiting period is called "autolyse"-- you can read more about it here.

Step 2: Making Dough (Optional, Cont.)

After waiting for 30 minutes, the dough will still look lumpy and you will think you've done something wrong. Don't be discouraged, it is perfectly normal.

  1. Sprinkle some flour on top of the dough and start kneading with your hand.
  2. You will start noticing that the dough will become smoother and more elastic. Knead for 2-3 minutes. Poke the dough and test for elasticity. If the dough springs back after poking, it is ready!
  3. Cut the dough into two equal sized portions and shape into balls.
  4. Lightly lubricate two containers with olive oil and place the dough balls inside each one.
  5. Store in refrigerator and allow to cold rise for a 3-5 days. Waiting the full 5 days will make the dough "bubble" much more easily in the oven, resulting in a crispier crust. For reference, the dough shown here was allowed to rise for 3 days.

Step 3: Preheat Oven

Preheat the oven to the maximum temperature (500F or more is required). If using a pizza steel or stone, I suggest leaving them in the oven for at least 1 hour after the oven has preheated. At this time, take the dough out from the refrigerator and allow it to reach room temperature. The dough should have risen 2-3 times its initial volume in the refrigerator.

Step 4: Step 2: Preparing Toppings (5 Minutes)

  1. Mix the chopped baby spinach, greek yogurt, finely chopped garlic clove, and goat cheese in a small bowl. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Break up the mozzarella and provolone cheese into smaller pieces and set aside.
  3. Open the can of artichoke hearts and drain the water. Squeeze out the extra moisture from the artichoke hearts by wrapping them in paper towels and applying pressure. Extra moisture will make for a soggy dough.
  4. Chop the artichoke hearts into quarters.

Okay, all your toppings are ready. Let's begin shaping the dough.

Step 5: Shaping and Assembling the Pie (5 Minutes)

From this point on, it is imperative to work fast and efficiently with the dough. DO NOT attempt to reshape the dough if you make mistakes and never use a roller unless you want a crustless pie! Shaping pizza dough takes practice. I found this video extremely helpful when I began making pizzas. I have probably tossed less than 20 pies in my lifetime and I still use those same basic techniques. What I recommend for beginners is to heavily flour all work surfaces. I recommend working fast since the dough will start hydrating the flour and making it stick.

  1. Flour work surface (I like to assemble right on top of the pizza peel).
  2. Place risen dough onto the work surface and flour both sides.
  3. Begin by shaping the crust. Using 2-3 finger tips, apply slight pressure 1/2" to 3/4" away from the edge of the dough. Continue in a circular pattern. Flip the dough over and repeat on the other side.
  4. Slowly work your way to the center using the same technique. Do not apply excessive pressure-- the dough should be soft and responsive to light touches.
  5. When the dough is about the size of your hand, lightly flour it again and pick it up by placing it on top of your closed fist. Start tossing and stretching the dough using only your knuckles. Make sure you tuck your fingers in towards your palm to avoid poking a hole in the dough.
  6. Hold the dough up to a light source and check for consistency in thickness. If the dough thickness looks even and about 10" in diameter, it is ready to assemble.
  7. Place stretched dough on top of floured transfer surface. You can use a baking sheet or large cutting board to transfer to the pizza steel. However, pizza peels are well priced for their added benefit.
  8. Spread the white base sauce evenly on top of the pizza. Leave a 1" clearance from the edge to allow the crust to form. If using a baking sheet, you may add the artichoke hearts on top. If using a pizza stone or steel, I suggest layering the artichoke hearts after the pizza has been transferred to the oven. I find that it is difficult to get the pizza to release from the peel with loose toppings. There's a high chance that some of the artichoke hearts will spill.

Step 6: Step 5: Baking the Pizza (6-7 Minutes)

  1. Place the pizza in the oven and bake for 2 minutes. If using a pizza stone or steel, after the pizza has been transferred to the oven, layer the artichoke hearts on top. I usually pull the whole tray 1/2 of the way out with an oven mitt so that I do not burn myself.
  2. After 2 minutes, take the pizza out and evenly distribute the remaining cheeses. Bake for an additional 3 minutes. I wait 2 minutes to add the cheeses since they tend to melt and burn quickly. Your two options are burned cheese or less crispy dough. In lieu of a real pizza oven, this solves the dilemma quite well.
  3. After 5 minutes of baking, turn the oven off and turn the broiler on high. Broil for 1-2 minutes, spinning the pizza midway to ensure even cooking. Check on the status frequently and avoid burning the cheese.

Your pizza is ready! Allow it too cool for 1-2 minutes and cut into slices. This is quite a hefty pizza so I suggest sharing. I hope you enjoyed my first Instructable. Any and all feedback is appreciated!