Sunday, July 13, 2014

Classic Pizza dough – Neapolitan Style

Neapolitan style pizza is made from simple and fresh ingredients like tomatoes, basil and olive oil and it often has more sauce than cheese. The dough is also very simple: flour, yeast, salt and olive oil. Neapolitan pizzas are thin and traditionally baked at a very high heat; I bake mine 450, but I know they can stand 500 degrees! A pizza stone is a must to create the chewy, toasty crust. Make sure to preheat your pizza stone all the way to 450 degrees. I recently purchased a pizza peel and that has helped to transfer the pizza onto the hot stone. You can also use the bottom of a baking sheet which is covered in flour or cornmeal and ‘slide’ the raw pizza onto the stone, using metal spatulas to coax it along. Either way, getting the uncooked pizza onto the scorching hot stone is the most difficult thing about making Neapolitan style pizza at home.   It really helps if the pizzas are very small – usually only 10-12 inches in diameter.

An important trick about making a thin crust pizza is to stretch it out using only your fingers from the center out to the edge. Never mess around with the edge and never use a rolling pin. By leaving the edge of the dough alone, you create a glorious chewy crust and a perfect round ‘crown’ known as the ‘cornicione.’ And by crown, I’m not talking about the huge lump of tasteless dough you might find at a fast food pizza place. A true cornicione is a culinary delight. To get a true cornicione, the dough must be sufficiently wet so it really puffs in the oven.

I found this recipe on the internet and have simplified the method here. It makes about five 10 inch pizzas. It also freezes very well w

Here’s what you need:
5 ¼ C unbleached flour
2 t kosher salt
1 ¼ t instant yeast OR 1 ½ t active dry yeast dissolved in the water
2 T olive oil (optional)
1 T sugar or honey
2 ¼ C room temperature water (less if you are using honey)

Here’s what you do:
Mix all the ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer. Use the paddle – not the dough hook. Mix for one minute to form a coarse, sticky dough ball.

Let the dough rest for five minutes, then mix again for one minute to make a smooth, very tacky ball of dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, rub a little oil on your hands, and fold the dough into a smooth ball. Let it rest on the work surface for five minutes and then stretch and fold the dough into a tight ball. Repeat this again, two more times, and 5 minute intervals.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and immediately place in the refrigerator. The dough can be used anywhere from 6 hours to 3 days after it goes in the fridge.

Pull the dough from the refrigerator about two hours prior to when you plan to bake it to bring it to room temperature. Divide the dough into five 8-ounce pieces. With a little flour on your hands, form each piece into a tight dough ball and place on a lightly oiled pan. Mist the dough balls with oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. (At this point you can freeze the dough balls in oiled plastic bags.) Give the dough at least 90 minutes to rest before making the pizzas. Remember – don’t over knead it or use a rolling pin. Just ease the dough into a circle with your fingers.

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