Have you ever had this experience? You see something and you instantly say, out loud, “That’s what I want.”
What can I say? I love pizza.
When I was growing up, I used to love Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza. They were a special treat in our house, and with five kids you had to stake out the kitchen as soon as my Mom arrived home from the grocery store or else you would be stuck making English Muffin pizzas. Yecch!
The Stouffer’s products were cooked in the toaster oven, which used up so much electricity that you could run outside and watch the little wheels on the electric meter spin furiously every time you turned it on.
Although I haven’t had a Stouffer’s FB pizza in probably 25 years, I remember them being pretty good. But this homemade version is incredible.
The difference is the homemade French bread. It’s an extremely simple recipe, but it transforms this pizza into something sublime. Plus this recipe yields two loaves of French bread, so there’s enough for garlic bread, French toast or just a warm loaf of fresh baked bread to share.
Since my wife isn’t into pepperoni, I made two different versions – one pepperoni and one veggie. But you can top these with anything you want.
Finally, I contributed to this recipe by making my own pizza sauce. We just have so many tomatoes this year that I was just grateful for another way to use some of them.
French Bread Pizza
For the French Bread
3 cups Bread Flour (or All Purpose flour, but bread flour makes it so much better)
1 TBS Dry Active Yeast
1 TBS Granulated Sugar
1 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/4 cups Water (Baby bath temperature)
1 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1. Add water to Kitchen Aid mixer bowl and whisk in yeast. Let stand for a minute or two for the yeast to activate. The liquid will start to get bubbly. Meanwhile, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Attach the dough hook to the mixer and turn the machine on medium. Add the flour mixture and knead until a soft dough forms. It’s ready when the dough pulls away from the walls of the bowl. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead a few minutes more by hand.
2. Add about 1 TBS EVOO to a clean mixing bowl and spread up all the sides and bottom with a napkin. Add the dough to the bowl and turn so that the outside is covered in oil. This is to prevent a skin from forming. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a draft-free place until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and carefully press out all the gases. Let rest 5 minutes, then divide into two peices. Using your hands, form each peice into an 18″x2″ loaf. Place onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper and cover loosely with the clean kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about another 90 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 375F. Carefully remove the kitchen towel and place sheet pan in the oven. Cook about 30 minutes or until loaves are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely on cooling racks.
For the Pizza Sauce
6-8 Homegrown Tomatoes (I used Romas)
2 cloves Garlic
Handful of Fresh Oregano, leaves only (Also from our garden)
1 TBS Balsamic Vinegar
1 TBS Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Water
2 TBS Corn Flour (or AP Flour)
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
2. Add tomatoes, garlic, oregano, vinegar and sugar to food processor or blender. Pulse until mixture is liquified, then transfer it to a small sauce pan. Place over a medium heat until bubbling, then reduce to a simmer. Cook 5 to 30 minutes over a very low heat. To thicken, turn heat on high and whisk in flour, then reduce heat and simmer about five more minutes to get the flour taste out. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
For the French Bread Pizzas
1 loaf French Bread, cut all the way through horizontally to make 2 peices
8 oz Fresh Mozzarella, shredded
1 cup Pizza Sauce
Toppings of Your Choice
2 TBS Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1 tsp Granulated Garlic
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flake
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Place bread crust side down on a baking sheet and spoon sauce over the exposed surface. Top with toppings, then cover with mozzarella.
2. Sprinkle the parmesan, Italian seasoning, gran garlic and red pepper flake over the pizza. This bonus seasoning makes any pizza taste great, even frozen. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until top is brown and bubbly.
I served this with a small Greek salad, also inspired by Mom Makes’ blog.