finally, pizza dough, you are actually something i want to invite back ::::
I was tethered to my desk last week, honesty, that really is the only word, with a stack of recipes that I have ignored. Agh, ignored! So tethered I was, sorting and filing, trying to decide what on earth to make. But then I got distracted. So commonplace. I was lured away from this stack to a new recipe (yes, another one — I’m such a sucker). Well, it’s not really new, but it wasn’t in the original stack. Pizza dough. Not just any pizza, but pizza with the promise of a crust with a crispy outside and chewy inside, undulate shape, bubbling with cheeses and olive oil, popped with colors of prosciutto, artichokes, and rosy tomatoes. Eek!
Pizza and I have a long history. No, not because of the cliché college late-night gorges, not because of my time in Chicago eating my way through deep dish style or the bubbled, burnt crust of fire-baked pizza from Coalfire, or brief and unwanted visits to New York City with the only allure being the New York style pizza. Whether it be my mother’s homemade pizza with hamburger I remember as a child, the hot dog-cheddar cheese pizza a friend in high school once claimed to have made on a slow night while working at Chuck E. Cheese’s, or the true perfection of the pizza I ate as a child in Northern Italy, it’s always been a constant in some variation. It was my pizza eating ability that simultaneously revolted and impressed my future husband. How can you be on your third piece when I’m on my first? he remarked. Because I am a machine, I thought to myself, as my mouth was too full to answer.
First thing’s first: I learned long ago that I needed a pizza stone to make decent pizza. My flimsy pans didn’t cut it. My oven temperature never seemed quite right, according to previous recipes spouting the “best” pizza dough. I didn’t want puffy, bready dough, You, you who wrote the zillionth recipe on the “best pizza dough EVER!” promised me pizza dough! And a perfect crust! Since I have no volition or capacity to build a woodburning stove in my backyard (my landlord might freak out, just a little), the pizza stone was the next step to achieving some pizza perfection.
Learning from more than one food blog and my ever-resourceful mother that a clean, slate tile is just as good (and less expensive) as a pizza stone, I immediately ran over to the nearby tile and bath store to ask about it. This artisan tile and stone shop is perfect, I thought, they’ll have everything!
I explained my situation and my need for an oven-safe tile. I was met with the vacant, doe-eyed look of a Stepford Wife
“You should try a kitchen store,” the clerk said brightly. “Like Crate & Barrel,” she continued, as if she hadn’t heard anything I had just said.
“But what about here,” I reminded her, “what oven-safe tiles do you have here?”
“Oh, nothing like you explained,” she shook her head with wide eyes and a dumb smile. The counters and walls were covered with various types of tiles.
“Um, okay,” I relented. What a waste of time. I turned back around to make sure her head was spinning around.
I did not go to Crate & Barrel as the Stepford Wife suggested. I found a reasonably priced pizza stone at a half-rate kitchen store, placed it in my oven months ago, then waited. I waited for the perfect recipe to appear, to my eye and not by someone else’s proclamation, and some time to organize a pizza making fest and to expect to eat well for dinner and have fair amount of leftovers. Or not, if my freakish ability to consume large amounts of pizza holds fast. Then again, I can stifle it so the kids have a proper dinner.
- 7½ cups (1000 grams) all-purpose flour (plus more for shaping dough)
- 4 teaspoons fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 cups of water
- pizza toppings of your choice
- TO MAKE THE DOUGH: Whisk flour, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add 3 cups of water; stir until well incorporated.
- Mix dough gently with hands to bring it together and form into a rough ball.
- Transfer to large clean bowl.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature (about 72 degrees F) in a draft-free area until surface is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size, about 18 hours (time with vary depending on the ambient temperature).
- Transfer dough to floured work surface. Gently shape into a rough rectangle. Divide into 6 equal portions. Gather 4 corners to center to create 4 folds. Turn seam side down and mold into ball.
- Dust with flour. Set aside on work surface. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Allow dough to rest, covered with plastic wrap or damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour.*
- (This dough can be made up to 3 days in advance. Wrap each ball of dough in plastic wrap and chill. Unwrap and allow to sit at room temperature on floured surface, gently covered with plastic wrap, for 2-3 hours before shaping.)
- TO MAKE THE PIZZAS: I used my trusty pizza stone, but baking sheets may also be used. Place oven rack in upper third of oven and place stone on rack to preheat for one hour.** Preheat oven at its hottest setting 500 - 550 degrees F. (You don't need to preheat the baking sheet, if using.)
- One dough ball at a time, dust generously with flour and place on floured work surface. Gently shape dough into a 10- to 12-inch disk.
- When ready to bake, increase oven heat to broil. Sprinkle a pizza peel (or rimless or inverted rimmed baking sheet). Place dough disk on prepared peel and top with desired toppings. I used provolone, Parmesan cheese, tomato sauce, Genoa salami, fresh basil, fresh spinach, fresh cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, and roasted red peppers in various combinations. If using wet ingredients, place on pizza just before baking to prevent dough sogginess. I also drizzled lightly with olive oil just before placing in the oven.
- Slide pizza from peel onto hot pizza stone with quick back-and-forth movements. Broil pizza, rotating halfway, until bottom of crust is crisp and top is blistered, 5-10 minutes.
- Using peel, transfer to a work surface to cool slightly and slice.
- Reheat pizza stone 5 minutes between remaining pizzas.***
- Cook time reflects reheating time between pizzas in addition to actual cook time.