Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pizza Neopolitan

My sister Linda and her husband Paul were down from Victoria for the weekend. They came by on Friday for dinner, and I was warned by Paul that I "better make some good food".

I like making this pizza for entertaining because everyone can make their own little pizza and since it only takes 7-8 minutes to bake each one, dinner is a fun, informal chow fest.
This recipe makes a light, thin, chewy crust and and wonderful raw sauce. Don't even think about using jarred sauce. Traditional toppings are fresh mozzerella and basil, but we also had carmelized onions, blue cheese, kalamata olives, mushrooms, zucchini, ham, pepperoni, and fresh tomatoes. The difficulty is to top the pizzas sparingling or else the crust will get soggy and not cook properly.

Warning: you need to start this dough early in the day. It takes very little yeast and requires a long, slow rise. The result is soft, extensible, flavorful dough. This recipe is adapted from Maggie Glezer's excellent book, Artisan Baking.

Pizza Neopolitan
Pizza Dough
3 1/3 c. bread flour
1/4 t. instant yeast
2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. lukewarm water

28 oz can crushed san marzano tomatoes (or equivalent of fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded)
1 t. dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
fresh basil, chopped (optional)
salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/4 - 1/2 t.)

Mix the Dough
Measure the flour, yeast, and salt together in the mixing bowl and stir them together by hand. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed while pouring in the water; continue to mix on low speed just until the dough gathers around the hook, about 3 minutes. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for about 10 to 15 minutes to allow the yeast to fully hydrate. Mix the dough on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the dough is fairly but not perfectly smooth.

Divide the Dough
On a lightly floured work surface, cut the dough into 4 equal pieces, each about 7 ounces. (Picture shows a doubled recipe.)
Shape each piece of dough into a tight ball using the following method:
1. flatten the dough and roll the dough up like a carpet.

2. turn the dough around and position it seam side up, and roll it up again.

3. roll the dough perpendicular to itself a third time
4. turn the dough seam side down and round out the dough under your palm into a tight ball.
(This may seem like overkill, but the point here is to make a really tight ball of dough.)

Place each ball on a floured tray. Flour the top of the dough and cover tightly with plastic wrap.

Proof the Dough
Let the balls of dough proof at room temperature until they aer soft and puffy but still springy, 5 to 6 hours. Or refrigerate the dough after shaping it, for up to 36 hours. (Note: I was 8 hours away from dinner, so to avoid overproofing, I proofed it in the garage - a very cold room - and brought it to room temp. for the last couple of hours.)

One hour before baking, arrange a rack on the oven's second-to-top shelf and place a baking ston on it. Clear away all racks above the one being used. Preheat the oven to its highest possible temperature setting. (The recipe says it's somewhere between broil and clean. You are trying for 750 but 500 degrees can still work).

Shape the Dough
Flour your work surface and palce a fully proofed dough ball on it. Flatten the ball with your hands and press it into a disk. Don't roll out with a rolling pin. You want to be gentle with the dough and preserve the air bubbles.
Place the dough on a sheet of parchment or directly on a peel that has been dusted with flour or cornmeal. Spread 1/4 c. sauce on the dough and add remaining toppings. Slide the pizza on to the hot stone and bake 6-8 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is.


Carrie said...

I LOVE homemade pizza. I'm totally going to try this dough!

Hey Cathy, do you have any sourdough starter in your fridge? I have a hankering for artisan bread but I'm lazy and don't want to do my own starter. :)

Ann Fisher said...

I would like to be invited to your new house for Pizza!!!
You are so amazing!

cathy said...

I don't have any starter, but I think I'm going to "start" some soon... I'll save some for you!

Do you have a pizza stone?

Laura Chamberlain said...

I know first hand how amazing the pizza was. YuMMy! Thanks cath!