Everyone knows that Fred likes to eat. =) Tonight, while the Mrs. was hard at work finishing some cakes, it was up to me to make dinner.

From the moment I woke this morning I wanted pizza… so earlier today I put together some dough. Anticipation built, and come 7pm I was ready to take the dough from it’s 2nd rise and get to work.

Of course, it was about this time I checked the ingredients.

Mozzarella? Nope. Tomato sauce? Nope.

Luckily, back in the day, David and I fell in love with a little movie called Heartbreak Ridge. It was time to Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.

Thus, tonight, the Mrs.and I ate Pizza Carbonara.

First, the dough

Ok, say what you want — there’s something metaphysical about working with bread. I don’t know why, I don’t know how… but I do know this:

If you’re happy, you get happy bread.

Conversely, if you’re in a shit mood — you get shit bread. So, before you start, take a few deep breaths, smile, find your happy place, and get into a good mood.

Although baking is truly a science, there’s an art to it, too. Bread takes practice, but I promise you this: If you respect the process, respect the craft, you will truly begin to make some incredible bread. Once you do, you’ll never settle for anything other than great bread.

So, here’s my favorite quick and easy pizza dough recipe (aka the one you can use in 3 hours):

Bread Flour: 3 & 3/4 cups
Sugar: 1 teaspoon
Salt: 1 teaspoon
Yeast: 2 & 1/4 teaspoons
Water: 1 & 1/2 cups (room temp)
Olive Oil

Get to work:

  1. Combine dry ingredients
  2. Mix in water until a ball is formed (you don’t have to use a mixer here)
  3. Lightly oil a bowl with olive oil.
  4. Place ball of dough into the oiled bowl and cover with plastic
  5. Set aside in a nice, dark place for about 2 hours
  6. Gently punch down the dough and cover with a damp towel
  7. Wait 30 minutes

That’s it. I know it sounds simple — it is. After the 30 minutes, put the dough into a pan and go to town.

The above recipe will make a good sheet pan pie (13 x 18). You can make 2 nice round pizzas with it. Be patient when you spread it in the pan. Spread it nice and thin. When I’m not patient, Yeni helps. 😉

Also, if you don’t have bread flour… use all-purpose. That being said, go buy some bread flour.

Now for the gravy

Carbonara is one of my favorite pasta dishes — second only to Paglia e Fieno. I fell in love with Carbonara in Florence, and long story short… been making it myself for 20+ years.

Some people think Carbonara is named for all of the black pepper in the dish. Others believe that it was named after the secret society Carbonari. Whatever the origin, this recipe is 100% awesome.

8oz Pancetta or Bacon
Garlic (as much as you can stand)
6 Eggs
Olive Oil
2 Cups Parmesan Cheese
Heavy Cream
Black Pepper

Get to work:

  1. In a nice sauce pot, cook the pancetta and garlic over medium-high heat (do not drain)
  2. If the peas are frozen, add immediately. Otherwise, wait until the pancetta smells so good you’re about to eat it right out of the saucepan
  3. Add about 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil and remove from heat
  4. Add the eggs and mix like crazy (this takes practice — if you’re not careful, you get scrambled eggs. You’re looking for a nice creamy sauce here)
  5. Add the parmesan cheese and keep mixing like crazy. (if your arm isn’t tired, you’re doing it wrong)
  6. Add the black pepper, keep mixing (if it helps, start singing “Just keep swimming”)
  7. This part is optional, but awesome (especially for pizza), add heavy cream until it’s just the way you want

That’s really it — Italian food is perfect for a few reasons. My favorite being just like baking — it’s all about the ingredients. Let them shine.

Anyway, tonight I had to use ham because we had no pancetta, no bacon, and no peas (but that’s another story).

Pour the sauce onto your dough and bake for 20 – 25 minutes at 350F. You’ll know it’s done when the crust is a perfect brown and starts to shrink away from the pan.

I truly believe that your favorite pasta sauces will work on any pizza. Don’t take my word for it… prove me wrong.