Lovely Pizza Dough, Pretty Flowers Too

I am back to my blog after a busy week. It was a culinary highlight having the opportunity to work with a remarkable, talented chef from Florence, Benedetta Vitali. Benedetta’s visit, two under-the-weather kids, Valentine’s Day and assisting with a very special birthday party on Saturday, made for a full week. Today, I want to share a few highlights and disclose a special pizza dough tip with you.

This year, my husband and I decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day with our “little valentines” and make it a family date. He sent flowers to all of us from my favorite floral arranger, Kerstin Horneman of Blue Magnolia (stay tuned for future floral tips from her). He sent me a huge arrangement filled with gorgeous dark ruby roses called “Love” that open up into heart shaped blooms, magnolia leaves, blossoming branches, spilling with orchids and dark burgundy calla lilies. The girls received sweet gold and cream mini hatboxes filled with multicolored pink peppermint roses and magnolia leaves.

For dinner, we made heart-shaped pizzas in our wood burning oven and chocolate fondue for dessert. Benedetta was here (her one day off on a month long tour) and she gave me a great tip: do not use olive oil in the dough because it weighs down its consistency. We tried it without oil and it was simply beautiful!

I am sorry this recipe did not make it out in time for Valentine’s Day, but it’s definitely worth the wait. It’s great for any day of the week and the kids love having a piece of the action.

Pizza Dough

Note: For the red sauce, I use “Aunt Penny’s Marinara” and let it reduce as the dough rises.

1 1/4 warm water

1 packet of rapid rise yeast

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 ½ cups “OO” flour


In a mixing cup combine warm water, yeast, and sugar and let sit for 5 minutes until bubbly. Mix salt and flour in a large bowl and stir in yeast mixture with a wooden spoon. Knead in the bowl for about 5 minutes…dough will be sticky. Cover bowl with and slightly wet towel (warm with hot water) and place in the warmest part of your kitchen. For me, this is usually on the stove. You can also let it rise slowly in the refrigerator overnight. In the fridge, it will stay good for use up to 3 days.

Tip: While the dough rises, (it will double in size and be ready to use in about 90 minutes) I make the marinara and let it reduce on the stove. This makes the stove area warm and the perfect temperature for the rising pizza dough.


Wine: With pizza, we almost always drink traditional styled sangiovese or nebbiolo wines from Italy.

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