Who doesn't love pizza? Everybody loves pizza! Sure, it's easy to pick up the phone and order one from the corner pizzeria, but it isn’t very difficult to make you own gourmet pizza, top it with your own fresh ingredients and do it all in about the time it would take to pick one up or have it delivered.
Let’s start with the homemade pizza dough. This should be the first step in your pizza making so that while the dough is rising, you can prepare the remaining ingredients.
Neapolitan Style Pizza Dough
Makes 2 large pizzas, 4 mini pizzas or 8 individual pizzas
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water (110º to 115º)
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 3/4 cups hard-wheat (“00”) flour (see note, below)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water in a large mixing bowl and add the sugar. Stir gently until dissolved. Allow to proof until slightly foamy and aromatic to ensure yeast is alive, about 5 minutes.
- Add oil, most of the flour and salt, and mix until incorporated. I recommend using a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment to save time and effort. If you don’t have one available, use your hands.
- Work in most of the remaining flour. Turn out mixture, which may be slightly sticky, onto a floured surface.
- Knead several turns by hand (or in the stand mixer with the dough hook on low speed) until smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes. Adjust consistency, if necessary, with a small amount of flour. Dough should be barely moist and no longer sticky. The key on this step is a very smooth dough.
- Shape dough into a ball, place it in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled, 60 to 75 minutes, or in the refrigerator overnight.
- Punch down the dough; roll out, top and bake according to directions.
Handling the pizza dough can be tricky once it is rolled out. Generally, a pizza peel is used to move the pizza in and out of the oven onto a pizza stone. If these aren’t available, you can use a rolling pin to roll the pizza dough up on to and then unroll it on to your pizza pan or baking sheet. Use a lot of cornmeal under the pizza to make it easy to slide around and prevent sticking.
While the dough is rising, prepare your ingredients. I like to keep it simple so I usually make a Caprese-stlye pizza using fresh sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. Sometimes I use prociutto, or crispy pancetta too!
To prepare your pizza to bake:
- Once the dough is rolled out and shaped, use a fork to make lots of little holes all over the surface of the dough. We call this “docking”. It will help prevent large air bubbles from forming in the dough while it bakes.
- Brush a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on the dough. Season with herbs if you like.
- Add a few ounces of your favorite pizza sauce, your own homemade tomato sauce, a cream-alfredo “Bianca” style sauce, fresh sliced tomatoes or whatever you like! Be sure to leave about a half inch of dough plain around the outside of the circle so you have a “crust.”
- Add your toppings arranged around the dough. I like mushrooms, sausage, pepperoni, ham, peppers and onions.
- Cover the pizza with your favorite cheeses! Resist the urge to pile too much stuff on the pizza. If it is over-loaded it will not bake correctly and come out soggy and difficult to handle.
- Bake the pizza at 450 F until the crust and cheese start to brown, usually about 12-18 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool slightly, slice and eat!
There are still a few seats available in our next Neapolitan Pizza cooking class at the Merchandise Mart on Monday, May 22. You can’t beat the tips and tricks you will learn in this hands-on cooking class where you get to make several style of pizzas and then eat them all! You will leave not only with the knowledge and skills to make your own awesome pizza, but also with the enthusiasm to get started to tackle your favorite pizza recipes at home. We will also help you decide what products you need or don’t need to turn your kitchen into a mini pizzeria and as always, we sell most of the items right here at The Chopping Block!