Of course pizza is everywhere in New York… well all over America really, but there is lots of really great pizza in New York. None better than the kind you can make at home if you have the right tools and make the dough properly. Tools: You need a pizza stone, a peel and a very wide spatula. You also need an oven that heats up to at least 500 degrees, 550 is even better. Sorry efficiency people, you must have a real oven, not a toaster oven. I like to make smallish pizzas, about 10″ across. They are perfect for parties because you can have a multitude of toppings and experiment a bit. They are also just the right size for one or two people with a salad.
I make the dough over night and then freeze the extra dough (this formula makes a large batch of dough) for later use. Next time you think you might want pizza, take the dough out and defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Here is the formula for the dough:
Overnight Pizza Dough
The dough gets its slightly tangy flavor from a “sponge” (a mixture of warm water, yeast, and flour that’s allowed to ferment). Timing note: The sponge needs to rest overnight; the dough needs to rest for about eight hours. If you freeze excess dough, allow to thaw slowly over night, then remove from the refrigerator about 2 hours before using. Allow the dough to rise another time before using.
makes eight 9-inch pizzas
- 1 cup lukewarm water (110°F to 115°F)
- 1 envelope active dry yeast, divided
- 1 cup all purpose flour, divided
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (110°F to 115°F)
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 6 cups (or more) bread flour
- Olive oil
- Semolina or cornmeal
- Sauces and toppings
- Pizza stone, wooden peel or rimless cooking sheet.
- Place 1 cup lukewarm water in large bowl of heavy-duty mixer (or you can do this by hand if you are feeling strong.) Sprinkle 1 teaspoon yeast (reserve remaining yeast for dough) and 1/4 teaspoon flour over water. Let stand until yeast dissolves and mixture looks spongy, about 4 minutes. Add remaining flour and whisk until smooth; scrape down sides of bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let sponge rest at room temperature in draft-free area overnight (about 12 hours; sponge will look bubbly).
- Add 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 envelope yeast, and remaining yeast to sponge, then add 6 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, beating with dough hook to blend after each addition. Continue to beat until dough is smooth, comes cleanly away from sides of bowl, and is only slightly sticky to touch, scraping down bowl occasionally, about 5 minutes. If dough is very sticky, beat in more flour, 1/4 cupful at a time. Scrape dough onto floured surface; knead into smooth ball.
- Brush inside of large bowl with oil. Add dough; turn to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; chill 6 hours, kneading dough down when doubled (after 2 hours).
- About 1 1/2 hours before baking, dust 2 baking sheets with flour. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead gently; shape into 16-inch log. Cut into 8 equal pieces. Knead each piece into smooth ball. Arrange 4 balls of dough on each sheet. Cover loosely with kitchen towels and let rise until almost doubled, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
- If using pizza stone, place in oven and pre-heat.
- Preheat oven to 500°F for 40 minutes to an hour, the longer the better. Working with 1 dough ball at a time, dust dough with flour. Press into 5-inch round, then gently stretch and roll out to 9- 10 inch round.
- Sprinkle a pizza peel or rimless baking sheet with semolina or cornmeal . Place the pizza dough on the semolina. Top as desired, it is much better to use a light hand with toppings, especially if you want your crust crispy. Slide pizza onto the pre-heated stone. Be careful when putting your pizza in and removing it, making sure to hold the peel as level as possible to prevent sliding of ingredients in the oven, or you may find yourself with “a fine mess”.
- Bake pizza until sauce is bubbling and crust is crisp and brown, lifting edge of pizza to check underside, about 10-12 minutes. Try to resist opening the oven too frequently, you want it inferno hot! When the pizza is done, take a large spatula or a metal peel and remove it quickly to a cutting board. Allow the pizza to rest a few minute before slicing. Wait at least 10 minutes for the oven to regain the temperature and then put the next pizza in.