Saturday, November 15, 2008

French Bread Pizza - That's Amore!


Have you ever sunk your teeth into a bite of French bread pizza? Do you remember the massive crunch sound that erupted? For today's post, instead of french bread, I actually used a lovely puglieise bread, which is a crusty bread that hails from Southern Italy. (That’s pronounced pool-yee-AY-zee.) It is the closest I’ve ever found to the type of bread my Italian grandma made every other day. Still warm from the bakery oven, I snatched it off the shelf as soon as it was set out.Isn’t it lovely? (I like the word "lovely". I say it a lot.) Crunchy crust + soft yet dense interior = YUM. I don’t really boast a love affair with pizza per se, but my oldest children go all dreamy eyed when the word pizza is mentioned. As we follow a mostly gluten-free diet for my youngest eater, pizza has not been on our menu for a spell. Tonight, however, my hubbyman escorted said gluten-free child to her end-of-season soccer party, which left me at home with two hungry teens. I actually planned to have pizza as a surprise for them. But not just any old pizza. Nope, we were going to make French, oops, I mean Italian bread pizzas, or pizza bread, together.

This is part of yet another quest of mine to teach my children their way around a kitchen. I’ve been hit and miss with this task, and after watching Marjie and Pam regularly create all sorts of goodies with their kids, I seized upon the opportunity to get my petit chefs cooking tonight.

Italian pizza bread conjures up sweet, sweet memories for me. When I was little, my mom would frequently make the most amazing, awesome spaghetti meat sauce. As a special treat, she would spoon some of the thick, meaty sauce on a slice of homemade bread for me as a hearty snack to hold me over until dinner time. Gosh, I’m getting all teary eyed remembering standing by her side, and seeing the love on her face as she handed it to me. She’d give me a quick hug, and kiss my forehead before sending me on my way. Gee, those memories can really sneak up on a body sometimes!

Anyway, I prefer pizza on bread most likely because of that special snack. I love that CRUNCH that you can only get from thick, toasted bread combined with the gooey cheese and toppings. One reason I don’t really crave traditional pizza is that I can’t stand the grease that I have to dab off the top. BLECH! Since my son and hubbyman are die-hard carnivores (they like pepperoni and/or sausage on their pizzas), so I take an extra step to avoid having those orange pools of grease on their pizza. Want to know my secret? Ready? (whispering) Cook the meat first. That’s it; it’s that simple. The pepperoni can easily be microwaved for about 30 seconds thereby releasing the majority of its fat content. (I had a photo to insert here to show you the grease released from the microwaved pepperoni, but, well, that’s just gross.) Watch it carefully because pepperoni can crisp up like bacon really fast. I have a great appetizer recipe idea for pepperoni chips, but that’s for another time. For pizza bread, just zap your pepp, dab with a paper towel just as you would bacon, and set aside until it’s time to build the pizza. If crumbled sausage makes your heart sing, just fry it up in a pan first. I used my handy-dandy cast iron pan.

To create a top-notch pizza bread, start with a lovely, crusty loaf such as Pugliese. Slice in half, and in half again if you like. Here’s another tip. Rather than just pile on the toppings and bake, treat it like garlic bread. Whip together equal parts melted butter and olive oil, and season with garlic powder, season salt, oregano, and basil.Spread this mixture over the sliced loaves, and pop them in a preheated 375 oven for about 10 minutes. The top of the bread should feel just slightly crunchy. That texture will keep it from getting soggy when you put the sauce and toppings on.Now it’s time to load up your bread. The method is to start with sauce, then a thin layer of shredded mozzarella (Shred it yourself, I beg of you. It melts so much better.) This will “glue” your toppings to your pizza. Next, put on whatever toppings you like ... pepperoni, sausage, onions, peppers, mushrooms (precook those a bit, too), tomatoes, olives, whatever... and then top it off with a little bit more cheese. Of course, you can create a plain cheese one or even leave the sauce off and create a lovely cheese bread. If you like, you can sprinkle the top with parmesan (we didn’t this time, but it’s goooood.)

Pop it back into the 375 oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese is all gooey.Now, leaving your pan in the oven, crank up the top unit of your broiler. Watching carefully, look for the cheese to start to bubble and brown, anywhere from 3 – 5 minutes.As soon as it starts to show that golden brown color, take the bread out of the oven. Let sit for 5 minutes and then serve.

Ohhhhh yeahhhhh. C-R-U-N-C-H! The toppings stay in place, the cheese is gooey, and the bread provides terrific texture.Here is a plain one.Here's one loaded up. See what's missing? No grease! Your mouth and tummy will do a happy dance. Warning: Pizza Bread is VERY filling. Your loved ones won’t be able to snarf this down like regular pizza. In fact, just pair it with a tossed salad, and you’ll be good to go.

My kids and I enjoyed making these together, yet for me, the best part was when they went all dreamy as they started eating their bread. Both kids raved about it, and my son wants to make and eat it again tomorrow.Mmmmmm. *Happy sigh* My work is done here.

30 comments:

OhioMom said...

Funny how so many memories of our childhood revolve around food, we 3 girls were Mom's prep cooks :)

I love crusty breads, perfect meal for a Saturday night.

Manggy said...

Omigosh, I LOVE french--er, Italian bread pizza. Brings back such memories of childhood for me! We did use sliced white bread at the time though. Thank you also for all the great tips! I'm with you on the freaky grease! (Though as I'm a guy I don't mind a bit of it ;)

noble pig said...

OMG i can hear the crunch, you are killing me here...so beautiful and yummy. Perfect Sunday treat!

Lisa said...

Oh, I love that cruch too. Great pizza.

Cathy said...

Memories of our moms in the kitchen are very special. Your pizza bread looks absolutely delicious. Thanks for sharing.

Marjie said...

Making any kind of pizza with the kids is such fun, isn't it? The best part, for me, anyway, is that they can pile on their own toppings, and I get to have the non-objectionable stuff on mine! Glad you and the twins had a fun evening.

Esi said...

I can practically hear the crunch. This looks great!

The Blonde Duck said...

Between this and those potatoes, I nominate you Brilliant Cook Extradorinare. Encore! Encore!

Proud Italian Cook said...

I can just imagine the taste of these Paula, Yumm, look at that crispy golden cheese, just waiting for a big bite!! This surely is not gluten free, correct??

Pam said...

Oh Paula. You have made my tummy rumble and it's 10:00 at night. This is my kind of pizza - I love the crunch. Excellent step by step photos.

Pam said...

Oops, I forgot to tell you that I have tagged you for a meme.

Bellini Valli said...

I'd forgotten about this. Years ago it was just French bread it seemed but all the choices today would make this amazing!!!

Grace said...

i like the word "lovely" too, this bread looks amazing, i'm glad you told us how to pronounce its name, and browned cheese is almost as gorgeous as melted chocolate. LOVELY post. :)

Swati said...

OOh.. this couldn't get better Paula,..Perfect!!

MEDITERRANEAN KIWI said...

great stuff - i love pizza on bread; saves so much time on making dough!
and that pugliese bread must be absolutely divine - i can hear the crunch!

Pam said...

It's been so long since I've had a french bread pizza. Too long!

Cheryl said...

You are so clever! my husband is a Pizza fiend and he would LOVE this! I found out last night your cheese theory (grate it yourself) is soo right!

Jan said...

I just love your posts, Paula, I always feel as if you are talking to me personally.

Your Italian bread pizzas sound scrumptious. I'm not surprised the kids wanted them again the next day.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Oh Paula, your posts are always so lucscious! It never ceases to amaze me what you will come up with. Great recipes and mouthwatering photos. :)

Gloria said...

Wow!!! Really love this Pizza look absolutely amazing!! Gloria

Paula said...

Good Morning Everyone! Hope you have a great Fall day today!

Ohiomom: I agree; so many of my childhood memories are that way! (I'm still so excited that you made the stuffing!)

Manggy: I will forever and always now refer to it as "freaky" grease! You're such a hoot!

Noble Pig: I have to admit, the crunch was spectacular! Not too hard, just perfect!

Lisa: Thanks, it was pretty tasty.

Cathy: Welcome, and thanks for stopping by. I'll come visit your blog, too.

Marjie: It was a ton of fun with just me and the older ones. Now I need to come up with something else for them to make!

Esi: Hello! I need to come visit your blog!

Blonde Duck: You're sweet, thank you!

Proud Italian: These were really, really good ... and probably loaded with gluten. My baby wasn't home that night, so we had a wheat splurge!

Pam: Thanks! Funny you mentioned the tummy. My son's tummy was rumbling as he made this; he could hardly wait to eat it! Thanks for the meme!

Bellini Valli: I haven't had it for a long, long time either! It's really good, and so easy to do.

Grace: It was a lovely meal! Lovely, lovely, lovely! :-)

Swati: Thanks, it tasted as good as it looks.

Mediterranean Kiwi: Using good bread made this meal soooo easy to compile. It was a crunching festival!

Pam: I hadn't had it in forever either, and as we were eating it, I thought to myself that we should add this to our meal rotation.

Cheryl: YEAH about the cheese! It really does make a difference, doesn't it? Plus, the flavor is "less processed", just all cheesy yumminess!

Jan: What a nice thing to say! Actually, I do feel like I'm having a conversation with you and the others who stop by!

Nita: Thanks, I just like feeding the troops! I know you don't eat a lot of wheat either; this was a nice gluten splurge! I need to figure out how to do this so my littlest can enjoy it too ... perhaps a shredded potato crust. Hmmm, guess I'll have to fire up the brain cells to make it happen.

Gloria: Hola! Thanks, it tasted terrific! I just read your bio and saw that you have b/g twins, too! Small world!

Mary said...

What a great post. You've made me hungry and it's no where near lunch time.

Lo said...

Wow. I haven't done a French bread pizza in ages.

This post has me drooling, though, so I can't guarantee that trend will last!

Darius T. Williams said...

Looks good - I love french bread pizza - this brings back memories!

-DTW
www.everydaycookin.blogspot.com

Aggie said...

Oh Paula, this is fantastic! I was right in the kitchen with you! My mom used to pour sauce on a piece of bread for me too, and then of course I would beg for just one meatball with it! I love those memories!

That Pugliese bread looks so good, I want to take a bite! I love love love homemade pizzas! Yours look wonderful!

mikky said...

it does look great... thanks for sharing... :)

Apples and Butter said...

The cheese looks amazing all melted and browning on the edges. Thanks for the inspiration! (and creating a cheese craving!)

Kevin said...

Those look great! Just look at that melted cheese!

Deborah said...

I LOVE French bread pizza. It's something I love to throw together when I don't really feel like cooking, and it's always delicious!

MrOrph said...

French bread pizza is one of those weeknight dishes that I like to throw together.

They are soooo much better with a good loaf of bread than the frozen kind. Although, I like those too.