Both my parents are great cooks and my family really enjoys its food, in fact a good few generations have worked with food in some way (I hope to join them some day). When I was younger my dad regularly made us pizza and I always used to look forward to those meals. He used a mix and I don’t think he ever made his own dough from scratch, but that didn’t matter I loved it. Im not sure why, but he stopped making it and hasn’t made a pizza since I was about 12. Now using a mix wouldn’t seem right to me so when I got the craving recently to make some pizza I had to make my own.I was originally thinking of going with Mark Bittmans’s famous and simple dough but I ended up going with Peter Reinhart’s Napoletana dough as it seemed more authentic. I was so happy when that first pizza came out of the oven looking just as I’d hoped it would and tasting great too. The recipe appears in both the “Bread Makers Apprentice” and “American Pie” and I used the crushed tomato sauce recipe that appears in “American Pie”. My Dad may not have made a pizza in 10 years but now I know I can repay the favour and make him a pretty good one.
5 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 ¾ tsp Table Salt or 3 ¼ tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Instant Yeast
1 ¾ cups plus 2 Tblsp Cool Water
(if you use a high protein or bread flour add ¼ cup olive oil)
1. Using an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook mix together all the ingredients on low speed for 4 minutes or until all the flour gathers together to form a coarse ball. Let this rest for 5 minutes then mix again for an additional 2 minutes, until the dough clears the side of the bowl and sticks a bit to the bottom (add a bit more water if too dry, or flour if too wet).
2. Put the dough onto a floured surface, dust the top with flour to absorb the surface moisture and then form the dough into a ball. Put the dough ball into lightly oiled bowl turning the dough over to coat, cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before refrigerating overnight.
3. On the following day remove the bowl from the fridge 2 hours before you plan on making pizzas. Using wet hands gently remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured surface, trying to deflate the dough as little as possible. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces, gently rounding each into a ball. Line a baking sheet with parchment and brush with olive oil. Place the pieces you intend to use that day on the sheet and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit out for 2 hours before making into pizzas. You can now freeze any of the extra dough balls in individual food bags (still oil the dough). Use the refrigerated dough within 2 days and the frozen dough within 3 months.
4. An hour before you make pizza pre heat the oven to its highest setting, with you pizza stone on the middle shelf.
5. To shape into pizzas place the dough on a floured surface and firmly but gently flatten with floured hands to about an inch thick. Use your fingertips press into and around the edge of the dough, turning it as you do, and continue in a spiral fashion, turning and pressing as you work your way to the centre. You want to stretch the dough to about 9 inches.
6. If you don’t have a peel (not exactly common kitchen equipment) use an inverted baking sheet dusted with flour. Move the dough to the ‘peel’ and make sure it can move freely. Add about a ¼ cup of tomato sauce to the dough and top with a few rounds of mozzarella and some fresh basil leaves.
7. Transfer the pizza to the baking stone and cook until the crust is puffy and slightly charred and the cheese is melted and just begging to brown, about 9 minutes in my oven, but your oven will probably vary so watch carefully.
8. Remove the pizza and add 4 additional basil leaves. Repeat the process again for your next pizza.
I know it seems a lot of work but its not a difficult process and there is great satisfaction in seeing that first pizza coming out of the oven.
Thoughts: Whilst the pizza was great it needed a bit more seasoning, but I only seasoned the sauce not the actual pizza and it could have done that extra bit more