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Susan's Garden Pizza

by Flo Braker

If you’re distracted by early autumn's sunny blue skies and have trouble keeping your mind on work, I understand. I’ve concluded that it’s this time of year that brings new meaning to “Thank God it’s Friday.” To make the week spicier and feel as though it’s passing faster, plan a casual get-together to celebrate Friday in a big way. To keep the menu simple, serve homemade pizza and a delicious, but easy, chiffon cake you can make ahead and store in the freezer. When Friday night comes, invite the guests to join you in the kitchen to help assemble the pizzas.

For an inexpensive but unusual centerpiece, save Friday pages from office desk calendars and anything else that says Friday on it -- newspapers, even a computer print-out with Friday typed hundreds of times in capital letters to cover the page. Lay these items on the table, then scatter some red rose petals over the papers.

Susan’s Garden Pizza
serves 4 to 8

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
æ cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 º cups unbleached flour
Additional flour for work surface
Cornmeal for baking sheets
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tomatoes, sliced º inch thick
1 yellow pepper, cut into thin strips
8 black olives, pitted and sliced
3 small boiling potatoes, cooked and sliced º inch thick
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 ounces teleme cheese, slice
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
9 to 14 leaves fresh basil, minced
1 small bunch parsley, minced
8 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme, minced

Place water, honey and yeast in large bowl and stir to dissolve yeast. Add olive oil, whole-wheat flour and salt. Stir well to combine. Add unbleached flour gradually to make a firm dough. Stir vigorously. When dough becomes too stiff to stir, knead dough on lightly floured work surface. Return dough to large bowl, cover loosely and let rise 1 hour. Near end of rising time, heat oven to 500 degrees. When dough has risen, punch down and form into 2 balls. Roll each to about 12 inches in diameter by 1/8 inch thick. Place pizza crusts on baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal and let rise for 15 minutes.

Bake crusts in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce over each pizza. Place tomato slices, pepper, olives, potatoes, garlic and cheeses on pizzas. Return pizzas to oven and bake another 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with basil, parsley and thyme. Serve immediately.

Banana Chiffon Cake
serves 12 to 14

2 cups unsifted cake flour
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
‡ teaspoon ground cinnamon
º teaspoon nutmeg
5 large egg yolks
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
‡ cup unflavored vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 cup (7 to 8 large) egg whites
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Adjust rack in lower third of oven; heat to 325 degrees. Sift all dry ingredients except the 2 tablespoons sugar into a large mixing bowl. In a medium bowl, mix the egg yolks, mashed bananas, oil and vanilla to combine. Stir the banana mixture into the dry ingredients until the batter is smooth. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Increase speed, add the 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to whip until glossy, thick peaks form. Fold the meringue into the batter, 1/3 at a time, until combined.

Spread batter evenly in an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the top springs back slightly when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out free of cake. Remove from oven and invert over a long-necked bottle to cool for 2 to 3 hours. Then remove cake from pan onto a serving plate. Sprinkle powdered sugar over cake before slicing.


Flo Braker has been teaching baking techniques and her sweet miniatures across the country for twenty years and is the author of several cookbooks.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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