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I've been blogging over at Our Sleeping Flowers these days. Still me, and still delicious, come join me!

I love anything that has basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese; but if you add olives to it I love it even more. This pizza has to be, hands down, the best I've had. It was so flavorful and I loved the crust; it's always been my favorite part but wow, the flavor the seasoned oil gives to it is great. I'll never have plain old pizza crust again.

Mozzar-basi-mato-live Pizza
adapted from Savoring America Cookbook

3/4 cup (6 fl oz./ 180 ml) warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
about 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 sprig fresh thyme, minced or chopped

Flavored Oil:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
pinch of salt
Mix together and let rest at least 10 minutes to ruminate.

Oven Dried Tomatoes:
1 large tomato (2-3 romas), thinly sliced; about 1/16th of an inch
olive oil, for brushing
freshly cracked pepper, salt

The toppings:
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, shredded and sitting out to dry a bit
Fresh Basil Leaves
1 can black olives, drained and dry
Oven-dried Tomatoes
Whole garlic cloves, sliced in halves or quarters

For the dough
Put the warm water in a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the surface. Let stand for 2 minutes. Whisk with a fork to dissolve. Let stand until bubbly, about 10 minutes.

Whisk in the olive oil and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and thyme, stirring with a wooden spoon. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently until the dough is smooth and elastic; about 5 minutes, adding as much of the remaining 1/4 cup of reserved flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking.

Shape into a ball, transfer to an oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil, and then cover the bowl with saran wrap. Let rise in a cool place for 2 hours. Punch the dough down, reshape into a ball, recover with the saran wrap and let the dough rise again for another 4 hours.

For the tomatoes:
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Drizzle oil on pan before laying the slices onto it, or use parchment paper or a silpat mat.
After all tomato slices are on pan drizzle/brush a lil' bit of olive oil over each slice topping it all off with a pinch of salt and freshly cracked pepper.
Bake in oven for 5-8 minutes or until dried and matte. If you want/need to, flip the slices after a few minutes to ensure the tomatoes dry. Let tomato slices cool on the pan.

To assemble the pizza:
Preheat oven to 550°F, or the highest temperature, for at least 45 minutes with pizza stone inside, if you don't have a pizza stone preparing the pizza on a baking sheet and putting them in together is fine.

Punch the dough down and roll out onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape into a ball, cover, and let rest for 30 minutes. *Good to preheat oven and do this at the same time, then prepare the other toppings so you can move fast!

Roll out the dough into a round, 13-14 inches. Generously dust baking sheet/pizza peel with cornmeal and transfer the dough onto it. Spread a thin layer of cheese onto the dough, then layer on the basil leaves, garlic, and oven-dried tomato slices. Top with another layer of cheese and crush the olives over the top. Brush the outer crust with the seasoned oil, then drizzle more of the oil, garlic and pepper chunks n' all, all over the top of the pizza.
(Throw away the bay leaf.)

Pop that bad boy into the oven, or slide it onto the pizza stone, baking until the crust is crisp and browned, about 8 minutes. If you're working without a pizza stone, bake the pizza on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer the pizza directly onto the oven rack for the last 3-4 minutes.

When you remove the pizza immediately brush a generous amount of the seasoned oil onto the crust.

Whoever can think of a better name for this pizza, or who actually knows the name if it has one, you should leave a comment; although I kind of like the way "Mozzer-basi-mato-live" rolls off the tongue. :)

My soundtrack: My fabulous nieces by my side, Mommer, Papa & AJ laughing at Seinfeld, and the fan which has been tugged out of the downstairs storage closet. We've hit the 90's daily now! Transferring that sucker from jelly pan to rack was hot!

Love you T-Bear & Bean-o! ;)

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