Sunday, January 10, 2010

pizza basique: a friendly pie

I've been trying to find a good pizza dough recipe for a while. I recently developed a honey-wheat dough recipe that was completely pleasing but just last night I opened up the family recipe box and it was bare. My fault for writing the recipe on a scraggly piece of paper. I'm sure it got tossed, unfortunate that. But there is always good that comes from those types of things. I was forced then to try a new recipe. Previously I had come across a Napoletana dough recipe by Peter Reinhart. The specific instructions looked daunting but after taking another look and testing the recipe last night, I can still say that pizza is one of the easiest bread-making one can do.

Sticking with my general philosophy that a good recipe should be basic and healthy- this recipe is definitely basic and depending on how you top your pizza, can be fairly healthy. One day I'll post a recipe for the honey-wheat dough; a more nutritious alternative to this all-purpose flour pizza.

**Remember to plan this meal ahead, dough must rest overnight in refrigerator*** 

So here it is, Peter Reinhart's Napoletana Pizza Dough:

4 1/2 cups (20.25 ounces) unbleached high-gluten, bread, or all-purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 (.44 ounce) teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon (.11 ounce) instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces) olive oil (optional)
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) water, ice cold (40°F)
Semolina flour OR cornmeal for dusting

I really recommend that you use a scale to measure out the ingredients if you have one.  It's always a great deal more accurate and will save you time when you're mixing your dough and trying to figure out if you should add more water or flour. This is not to say that you won't ever have to adjust-but it will get you to a closer point.

The chilled water and flour thing was what discouraged me from using this recipe...but go with it..It's not difficult and is really worth it.

1. Combine flour, yeast, cold water, oil, salt in large mixing bowl. Use a cold metal spoon to stir ingredients together or jump to your standing mixer and attach the paddle. If using a spoon, repeatedly dip it into cold water (to prevent stickage) and use it like a dough hook, vigorously mixing the dough. (about 5-7 mins when everything is mixed together well and smooth). If using the standing mixer (I reccommend this) attach the dough hook when dough begins to become more formed and hook for about 5 mins. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl but remain somewhat stuck to the bottom of the bowl. If dough sticks to the side add a pinch or two of flour at a time until the dough dries up a bit. If the dough is completely adhered to the bottom of the bowl, add a few drops of water. Be sure to do these adjustments in very small increments.
Dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky but not tacky and should be around 50-55 degrees F.

2. Sprinkle flour on your work area and cut the dough into 6 equal parts.  Dip each ball into flour so it will not stick to your hands and form a ball. Mist a plastic bag or put on a tray on top of plastic wrap or parchment paper and mist with spray oil. Multiple methods can be used to store this dough in your fridge. Just make sure it has some room to expand, well oiled (to prevent sticking) and sealed off enough so that the oil will not dry out.

3. Place in refrigerator overnight or up to 3 days to rest. Thoughts of this becoming a type of Easter dish are currently coming to mind.

Day of Baking--

1. Pull out a dough ball and flatten it on a flour dusted and spray oiled surface and flatten into a 1/2 inch disk. (about 5 inch diameter) Let this rest on the counter top for 2 hours covered loosely with plastic wrap.

2.  Meanwhile...prepare your  toppings, and heat up your oven. Please use a pizza've done this much work preparing the dough, you owe it to yourself. Put the stone in the oven and allow everything to heat up for at about 45 mins before putting the pizza in. Oven should be 450F at minimum and 800F maximum. The hotter the better, but 450F works fine.

3. After dough has rested, continue to flatten dough. Now, I'm not really an expert on tossing dough...I've tried but it is really difficult. Give it a try, but if things don't work out try to get an even thickness by using a rolling pin. This pizza dough should be rolled out pretty then. (We are going for a thin crispy crust) I'd say like a 1/4th of an inch. Don't worry about forming a crust (unless you're into that).

Topping the pie:

1. If your pizza is rolled out thick you may want to consider putting some holes into the dough with a fork though out the entire pie. I tend to do this on any thickness but I'm not sure if it really matters.

2. Load pizza on pizza peel (the wood paddle thing) or just use the back of a pan. Regardless, use semolina flour (preferable) or cornmeal so that your pizza will roll easily off the delivery device onto the stone.

3. Spread some olive oil about on the pizza..This acts as a barrier for your sauce and other toppings so they won't sog out the dough.

Recommended Toppings:

1.  Thin layer of tomato sauce
2.  Small handful of black olives (well drained)
3.  12 or so pieces of artichoke hearts

4.  Fresh thinly sliced tomatoes.
5. Paper thin sliced zucchini
6. (cheese: mozerella / Parmesan regiano) non-vegan

4. Lay the toppings down in approximately this order mentioned above. Add seasoning: basil, garlic, oregano, chili flakes...anything goes.

5. Slip the pizza into your oven.

At 450F the pizza will probably be done in about 10-12 minutes. Just keep an eye on your toppings...Especially if you are using cheese. It might burn before the crust even gets dark. This dough is really white, so keep in mind it might not even really look done when it really is.

6. Remove pizza, allow to cool, enjoy.

Below is the cheese variant:


  1. Oh wow Eric! That looks amazing! You gotta cook for Malachi and I sometime.

  2. Thanks for sharing...I think I will have a pizza making party on Sunday evening!