Obviously, my first food post for this blog is going to be pizza. It is hands-down my favorite food, and if you don’t like it, I’m not sure I can trust you as a person. So, I’m taking on the very important mission of finding the perfect pizza dough. If you’re in the OKC area and want to join my pizza club, I’ll feed you free pizza because I’m probably going to be making an abundance of it.
But, then again, I may just stop my search now because the pizza I made last night is unbelievably good (I have two people to vouch for me).
I’m not talking about thick crust pizza, even though that’s totally good too, Neapolitan style is my favorite. It’s crispy thin, yet still chewy. The problem can be finding pizza dough that can hold its weight. However, I solved that problem last night, and this dough may also bring peace to the world.
Before I get to the dough, let’s talk toppings. If you load up on bad toppings, the pizza will be ruined, and so will your day. For the thin sauce layer, I only use crushed San Marzano tomatoes. Make sure to read the labels closely because a lot of brands will throw “San Marzano” on the label, but they are not, in fact, San Marzano tomatoes (from Italy). After that, I add a variety of toppings, which I’ll share in later posts as I continue my pizza dough journey. But, whatever it is, make sure it’s fresh. Seriously, it makes a world of a difference.
Last night, I made a classic margarita (after I got over the fact I accidentally spent $8 on super-duper organic tomatoes from Whole Foods). It went like this: dough, thin layer of San Marzano crushed tomatoes, thinly sliced $8 tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil right when I pulled it out of the oven. Side note: fresh mozzarella has a high water content and can make the dough soggy, but it happens, even in Italy. I dried it off and tore it into smaller pieces, which helped significantly.
The dirty on the dough: I found the recipe on Martha Stewart and decided to take a shot at it. Y’all, PLEASE make your own pizza dough from now on. It is so good and so easy. My family and I normally make a dough using rapid rise yeast — it takes 5 minutes to make, and it’s worth the tiny extra bit of effort. But last night, I decided to try a dough that actually takes time to rise, and, obviously, it was better, but still incredibly easy.
You throw the ingredients together, knead it for a little, and let it rise for at least 3 hours (Note on kneading: don’t be intimidated, like I was when I first tried it. It’s not hard, and you get the hang of it and how it should look and feel at the end pretty quickly). That’s pretty much it!
To get the results you’re lookin’ for, you also need a pizza stone. You can buy them anywhere nowadays for a good price. Heating the stone in a 500 degree oven for at least an hour ensures that the crust will get crispy, and the pizza will cook in about 7 minutes. If you don’t have a stone, buy one. You can also use a cast iron skillet, or a wood-burning oven if you want me to be jealous of you.
Neapolitan Style Margherita Pizza
- 1/4 oz. envelope of rapid rise yeast
- 2 C warm water (105-115 degrees)
- 5 to 5 1/2 C unbleached, all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
- 2 t salt
- Extra virgin olive oil (for the bowl)
- Can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces
- 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
- Few leaves of fresh basil (however much you want)
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a later bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes.
- Stir in 3 cups flour and the salt, stirring until smooth. Stir in 2 cups flour. If needed, continue adding flour (up to 1/2 cup) a tablespoon at a time. (I did not need to keep adding flour). The dough should pull away from the bowl and be a little sticky
- Put the dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.
- Shape into a ball and put in a bowl lightly oiled with the olive oil, turning to coat the dough completely. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, at least 3 hours. When you poke it with your finger, the indent should stay. (You could definitely throw this together in the morning before work and leave it covered in a warm place while you’re at work/school).
- In the meantime, place the pizza stone in a 500 degree oven on the bottom rack for at least an hour.
- Turn the dough onto floured surface and cut into 4 equal pieces. Form into balls, dust with flour, cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to rise for 20-30 minutes. It should double in size.
- Either hand stretch or roll out the dough into a 12″ round. (My pizza stone is rectangular, so I shaped into a larger rectangle). Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured pizza peel or cutting board.
- Spread a thin layer of crushed San Marzano tomatoes (a few spoonfuls for me). Layer the sliced tomatoes, then drop the torn mozzarella on top.
- Open the oven, and transfer the pizza from the pizza peel/cutting board onto the heated stone by tilting it and gently jerking/moving it. Bake for 7-10 minutes until crisp. (If the stone has not preheated for as long, it will need more baking time).
- Remove from the oven back onto the pizza peel/cutting board, and top with fresh, torn basil. Slice and enjoy!