What's for Dinner?
notes from Heidi's
30, 2006 |Best
Pizza Dough Ever Recipe entry--
--I'm just going to leave you with the dough recipe. It's up to you
to play around with the toppings. The best advice I can give you is
to take it easy with the toppings (guys, I'm talking to you) - a
little goes a long way here. My favorite is a simple
pizza margherita with the
bright red sauce from my book,
(or bottom of this page) a few torn up bocconcini cow's millk
mozzerella balls, and a few pinches of salt on the front end before
placing the pizza in the oven. When the pizza comes
out of the oven, I give it a quick dusting of grated Parmesan, a
tiny drizzle of artisan-quality virgin olive oil, and a bit of basil
cut into a chiffonade.
As far as oven temperatures go - I have great results at 450 degrees
WITH a pizza stone. Go buy a pizza stone immediately if you are
serious about making great pizza at home. They are cheap and make a
huge difference in your crust. Why not 500 or 550 degrees? I've
tried higher temperature in the past, but my oven begins to quake
and quiver at those temps, and the cornmeal that inevitable gets
left on the pizza stone ends up smoking pretty badly.
Peter Reinhart's Napoletana Pizza Dough
Heidi notes: Peter's recipe says the olive (or vegetable oil is
optional). I use it every time - always olive oil, not vegetable oil. I
love the moisture and suppleness it adds to the dough, and it makes your
hands soft too.
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
1. Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a 4-quart bowl
(or in the bowl of an electric mixer). With a large metal spoon, stir in
the oil and the cold water until the flour is all absorbed (or mix on
low speed with the paddle attachment), If you are mixing by hand,
repeatedly dip one of your hands or the metal spoon into cold water and
use it, much like a dough hook, to work the dough vigorously into a
smooth mass while rotating the bowl in a circular motion with the other
hand. Reverse the circular motion a few times to develop the gluten
further. Do this for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and
the ingredients are evenly distributed. If you are using an electric
mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7
minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The
dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the
bowl. If the dough is too wet and doesn't come off the sides of the
bowl, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. If it
clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a tea- spoon or two of cold
water. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just
tacky, and register 50 to 55F.
2. Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the
counter. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with baking parchment and
misting the parchment with spray oil (or lightly oil the parchment).
Using a metal dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or
larger if you are comfortable shaping large pizzas), You can dip the
scraper into the water between cuts to keep the dough from sticking to
it, Sprinkle flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then
flour them. Lift each piece and gently round it into a ball. If the
dough sticks to your hands, dip your hands into the flour again.
Transfer the dough balls to the sheet pan, Mist the dough generously
with spray oil and slip the pan into a food-grade plastic bag.
3. Put the pan into the refrigerator overnight to rest the dough, or
keep for up to 3 days. (Note: If you want to save some of the dough for
future baking, you can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag.
Dip each dough ball into a bowl that has a few tablespoons of oil in it,
rolling the dough in the oil, and then put each ball into a separate
bag. You can place the bags into the freezer for up to 3 months.
Transfer them to the refrigerator the day before you plan to make
4. On the day you plan to make the pizza, remove the desired number
of dough balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before making the pizza.
Dust the counter with flour, and then mist the counter with spray oil.
Place the dough balls on top of the floured counter and sprinkle them
with flour; dust your hands with flour. Gently press the dough into flat
disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the dough
with flour, mist it again with spray oil, and cover the dough loosely
with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag. Let rest for 2 hours.
5. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone
either on the floor of the oven (for gas ovens), or on a rack in the
lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible, up to 800F
(most home ovens will go only to 500 to 550F, but some will go higher).
If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan,
but do not preheat the pan.
6. Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina
flour or cornmeal. Make the pizzas one at a time. Dip your hands,
including the backs of your hands and knuckles, in flour and lift I
piece of dough by getting under it with a pastry scraper. Very gently
lay the dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the
dough in a circular motion on your hands, carefully giving it a little
stretch with each bounce. If it begins to stick to your hands, lay it
down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue
shaping it. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss as
shown on page 208. If you have trouble tossing the dough, or if the
dough keeps springing back, let it rest for 5 to 20 minutes so the
gluten can relax, and try again. You can also resort to using a rolling
pin, though this isn't as effective as the toss method.
7. When the dough is stretched out to your satisfaction (about 9 to
12 inches in diameter for a 6-ounce piece of dough), lay it on the peel
or pan, making sure there is enough semolina flour or cornmeal to allow
it to slide. Lightly top it with sauce and then with your other top-
pings, remembering that the best pizzas are topped with a less-is-more
philosophy. The American "kitchen sink" approach is counterproductive,
as it makes the crust more difficult to bake. A few, usually no more
than 3 or 4 toppings, including sauce and cheese is sufficient.
8. Slide the topped pizza onto the stone (or bake directly on the
sheet pan) and close the door. Wait 2 minutes, then take a peek. If it
needs to be rotated 180 degrees for even baking, do so. The pizza should
take about 5 to 8 minutes to bake. If the top gets done before the
bottom, you will need to move the stone to a lower self before the next
round. if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will
need to raise the stone for subsequent bakes.
9. Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board.
Wait 3 to 5 minutes before slicing and serving, to allow the cheese to
Makes six 6-ounce pizza crusts.
Five Minute Tomato Sauce
I'm very particular about the tomatoes I use in this sauce. Look
for canned crushed tomatoes, some cans you will come across will say
"with added puree" - this is also fine. I avoid diced tomatoes, pass on
pureed, and skip whole tomatoes as well. Avoid the crushed tomatoes with
added herbs, seasonings, etc. You want pure crushed tomatoes if
possible. I also look for organic crushed tomatoes which can be tricky,
I often come across the Muir Glen brand, it has added basil in it - that
one is actually fine. The San Marzano crushed tomatoes are great as
well. Any leftover sauce keeps well in the refrigerator for three or
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
3 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed red tomatoes
zest of one lemon
Combine the olive oil, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and garlic in a
cold saucepan. Stir while you heat the saucepan over medium-high heat,
saute just 45 seconds or so until everything is fragrant - you don't
want the garlic to brown. Stir in the tomatoes and heat to a gentle
simmer, this takes just a couple minutes. Remove from heat and carefully
take a taste (you don't want to burn your tongue)...If the sauce needs
more salt add it now. Stir in the lemon zest reserving a bit to sprinkle
on top of your pasta.