Home-made Ricotta and Herb Focaccia Bread Mini Pizzas
These mini pizzas are a combination of two main recipes: Home Made Ricotta Cheese and Onion & Balsamic Focaccia Bread.
Onion & Balsamic Focaccia Bread
One of my favourite snacks as a kid was my mom’s fresh baked focaccia bread, dipped in oil and vinegar. This recipe is a slight adaptation of the family recipe, with some tweaks to make the flavour more bold and complex. Normally this bread is baked in larger loafs, but in this case, I’ve shapes them into little rounds to act as the crust for mini pizzas.
1 onion, finely chopped
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
5 cups whole wheat flour
1 package instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Italian spice mix
1 ½ cup warm water
Preheat oven to 375
Heat oil in heavy stove top saucepan. Add onions to oil, and cook on medium heat until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar, and cook an additional 1 minute. Remove from heat, and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
In a mixing bowl, combine 3 cups flour, yeast, salt, and spices. Add warm water and onion mixture, and stir until fully combined. Using dough hooks, allow mixer to knead dough on medium speed for at least 10 minutes. This step can also be done by hand if you’re looking for a work out! After ten minutes, the dough should be elastic and not sticky. If still sticky, add more flour and kneed a little longer. When dough is ready, cover the bowl with a clean tea tower, and allow to rest for at least another 10 minutes.
On a dry, floured surface, place dough in a single ball. Punch down the dough, and divide into desired baking portions.
Note: in this case, I’m using the dough for mini pizza crusts, so I will separate the dough into small fist sized portions. For regular focaccia bread, divide dough in two and create 10 inch round loafs)
Place formed dough on greased cookie sheet. Brush dough rounds lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle spices and/or a cheese mixture on top. Bake loaves in oven on middle rack until golden brown, and slightly hard and hollow sounding when tapped. For 2 regular sized loaves, bake for 25-30 minutes. For small mini pizza sized portions, bake 15 minutes.
Home Made Ricotta Cheese
Making ricotta is extremely simple, and tastes nothing like the stuff you buy in the store. From only a few simple ingredients you can create delicious and creamy ricotta cheese at home, for a fraction of the price.
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Combine the milk, cream, and salt in a heavy saucepan, and heat on medium heat. Stir continuously to avoid scalding at bottom of pan. Once mixture reaches a light boil, turn the heat down to low (so it is only lightly simmering). Add the lemon juice and stir only once to combine. Leave mixture undisturbed for 1 more minute, and then stir only once again. Let rest another 1 minute, and then remove from heat. At this point the mixture should have separated nicely into curds and whey.
If you have a colander, put in larger bowl and line with cheese cloth. If not, very loosely cover a large bowl with 2 layers of cheese cloth, and hold cheesecloth in place with tape or elastic band.
Pour the separated mixture into the cheesecloth, and let drain about 1 hour at room temperature.
Once curds have drained, remove from cheesecloth, and either serve or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. This recipe makes about 1 cup of ricotta cheese.
Note: Do NOT throw away the milk whey that separates from the curds. Hold onto this, and use in other recipes, such as our heavenly whey crepes!
I topped these pizzas with Ricotta cheese, left over balsamic onion mix from the Focaccia bread recipe, fresh basil, and roasted garlic. Roasting garlic at home is extremely easy, and is a nice addition to many dishes. Simply cut the tops off a head of garlic, and remove the outer layer of skin. Place cut side up in a muffin tin, smother with about 1-2 tbsp. olive oil, cover individually with tin foil, and bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes.