ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Neopolitan-American Pizza,” from Pizza, by Ed Levine*
TIMING: A minimum of 5 hours for the rise and refrigeration
DIFFICULTY: Difficult, but practice will improve the outcome
TOOLS: A pizza peel and pizza stone, as well as a stand mixer
COOK TYPE: Oven
HEALTH: This is a straight-up white pizza dough. It would be healthier if it were whole grain, but it would make for a very different pizza. Personally, I worry less about the all purpose flour that I buy (unbleached, organic) than I do about what goes on my pizza. With a good tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil, hormone-free cheese, sesame seeds and garlic, and a slew of veggies and healthy proteins, I find pizza to be a crowd-pleasing and well-rounded dinner. Especially with a salad or antipasto.
EXPERIENCE: As you probably know by now (or can assume from my socioeconomic status, age, and family situation), we have pizza and a movie night most every Friday. Many weeks, this means picking up pre-made dough and pre-made sauce. On other weeks, I grab a refrigerated pizza at WholeFoods for ten bucks. And on really desperate weeks, we order a pizza.
However, there have been a few weeks over the summer when I was not out and about but pizza night was coming whether I liked it or not. So I turned to our pizza resource (Pizza: A Slice of Heaven) to whip up a pizza dough. (My other option is always the bread machine, but at the moment I am down one crucial paddle.)
I can’t tell you the last time I used this recipe, and that’s largely because the recipe is buried in the book and is so wordy. I really dislike wordy recipes. If you want to tell me something, do it before or after the recipe, so that I don’t have to wade through the jargon to figure out what I am doing next. Anyhoo… once I read it through enough times to simplify it in my head, it was a nice and simple recipe which comes together easily (as long as it doesn’t burn out your mixer motor).
Buuuut…. pizza from a dough is anything but easy to slap together. My main problem seems to be getting the dough from the pizza peel to the pizza stone. My second main problem is getting the dough stretched out into a large, even circle (as you can probably tell by the photos). Some days I have more luck. In the end, though, even ugly pizza tastes good.
NOTES: I find cold pizza dough much easier to work with, so if you have the time, you could make the dough earlier and refrigerate covered in plastic wrap. You can also opt to press your dough into a pan and make pan pizza. Make dough below then see recipe HERE.
- In the bowl for your stand mixer, combine 3 1/4 cups all purpose and/or bread flour (half and half is recommended), 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast, and 1/2 tablespoon salt. Add 1 1/2 cup cold water and stir vigorously until a dough comes together.
- Move bowl to the stand mixer and beat (but not with the dough hook) on slow for 1 minute. Increase speed to high and beat another 3 minutes, scraping down once, until the dough forms a ball on the paddle.
- Liberally flour a clean, flat workspace and turn the dough out onto it. Flour the dough and your hands and fold the dough over once onto itself. With a dough scraper or a large knife, divide the dough in half.
- Prepare two deep plates by rubbing with olive oil. Pick up a piece of dough, gently shape into a ball, and place it on a plate. Repeat with the second dough. Sprinkle again with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise about 3-4 hours.
- Refrigerate for 1-24 hours.
- Preheat your oven to 550F for 1 hour, with your pizza stone inside. Have all your pizza topping ingredients prepped and set out!
- Generously coat your pizza peel with cornmeal. Take one dough ball from the fridge and place onto a well-floured surface. Press out into an 8 inch round and then stretch as best you can in the air. Flop the dough onto the peel and adjust the shape without moving too much of the cornmeal.
- Move quickly to spread on 1/3 cup tomato sauce or crushed, drained tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Top with 4 ounces grated cheese. Place toppings of choice. (I also drizzle the crust with olive oil, garlic powder, sesame seeds, and salt.)
- Shake the peel to make sure the pizza is not sticking. (If it is sticking, this is when I panic and can offer you no good advice.) Open the oven and–with a jerking motion–slide the pizza onto your baking stone. Oi. Practice will help.
- Bake 10-15 minutes, until the underside is crisp and charred. Remove with the peel, top with any raw toppings, cut, and repeat with second dough ball.
Serve with a crisp green salad or a veggie-heavy plate of antipasto.
*Recipe changed from the original.