Pizza: The Recipe

Okay, okay…..I know I took a while getting to the recipe, but here we go…

I  dedicate this to my sister, whom is forever asking me for my husband’s pizza recipe.  Truth is, pizza is not as easy as it appears to be.  Most of you should know this if you have seen Juan Hermosillo,”Mambo Italiano guy,”on the TV throwing his beautiful pie through the air, and then actually trying it yourself—-big difference.

The other factors that come in to play, are recipe, flour, oven, and water.  I use King Arthur all purpose flour.  I have tried other King Arthur specialty flours and even some locally milled flour, but go back to the all purpose each time.  Filtered water is best if you live in the city.  I also use a stone, which I find gives it the heat it needs to bake properly.

If you are serious about, or want to become serious about pizza making, then I urge you to buy the only book you will ever need: American Pie, by Peter Reinhart

Peter has a recipe for every pie under the sun.  He gives a full description of each one, and does a fabulous job scientifically breaking down the recipes so you know the “why’s” and “how’s” of each one.  It is easy and fun to be creative with this book, and gives you a real sense of how dramatically different one pizza can be from another.

Don’t get discouraged, the same recipe can come out different every time you make it depending on the day.  Just keep playing around with it and you will start to get the feel of the dough and be a pro in no time!

The Recipe:

1/4C beer

1 3/4C warm filtered water, about 110 degrees

1T active dry yeast

1T cane sugar

1 1/2t kosher salt

1T extra virgin olive oil

5C King Arthur all purpose flour + more if needed

  1. In the bowl of a mixer, place the yeast, beer, sugar, and water; stir and let sit until foamy
  2. With the hook attachment, mix on low and add in 2C of flour, then your salt and oil, then the rest of the flour
  3. The dough should come away from the sides of the bowl and be tacky, not sticky, but firm. If it is not coming away from the sides of the bowl, add more flour until it does (this may be up to a cup)
  4. Either transfer to a floured table and knead by hand for 10 minutes, or keep on medium and mix for 8 minutes with your mixer
  5. Transfer to a table, cut into 4 equal portions  and roll into a round ball (at this point, you can keep some dough out, let it proof for 3 hours, covered, and use that day, or let it sit over night which will develop the flavor you are most likely looking for in a crust)
  6. Open up four Ziploc bags and place one tablespoon of olive oil inside each bag, squish the bag around to disperse the oil on both sides, place dough in each bag and let rest on counter for 15 minutes
  7. Then place in refrigerator for next days use, or freeze
  8. When you are ready to use the dough the next day, pull it out 1 hour before you want to use it and lay it in a warm area of the kitchen
  9. Turn on your oven to 5ooF, and place your stone on the lowest rack in the oven, not on the oven floor; this will over heat the bottom of the crust and not cook the top of it properly
  10. This is a good time to get your toppings ready and make your sauce

The Sauce:

One word:  San Marzano (okay, maybe that’s two, but it is one product), a tomato.  Not just any tomato, it is THE tomato, the Italian pride and joy.  This is the canned variety you want to get.  I am taking Peter’s lead on a good sauce:

28oz can San Marzano, whole, peeled tomatoes

1t each, dried basil, dried oregano, salt

2T fresh lemon juice (this is a key ingredient in good sauce!)

5 cloves minced garlic

fresh ground black pepper

1. First thing you want to do, is blend up the tomatoes and juice, then strain it for 5 minutes. This is very important, because you absolutely do not want runny sauce, or you will have a mess in the oven, and your pizza will rip apart from being too soggy.

2.  After you have strained your sauce, add the rest of the ingredients, and viola!

3.  You can also freeze your extra sauce in small containers for the next use.  3/4C about does one pie.

The Assembly:

  1. When your dough is ready, you’ll know this because it should be soft, but not mushy, and starting to bubble a little in the bag.  If at any point, the dough starts to feel really warm and looks super bubbly, you may have over-proofed it.  Keep an eye on the dough through the re-warming process and move it to a cooler spot in the kitchen if it looks like it is warming too quickly.
  2. Take it out of the bag and place on a lightly floured surface.  You may also use cornmeal or semolina if you like.
  3. Dust your hands with the flour a little bit and start pushing down the edges of the dough with your finger tips, then push down the middle
  4. At this point, I pick up the dough and start running the edges of it over the back of my hands and let it stretch itself as I go.  This takes practice and it may be easier to just stretch it with your hands on the counter or use a rolling pin to start.
  5. When it looks fairly round and thin in the middle, I lay it down on my peel or mesh screen, form it into a round (making sure my edges are fatter than the middle), and brush it with olive oil.
  6. I then cover it and let it rest 5 minutes before placing my toppings on it.
  7. Placement in the oven can be tricky.  I start out placing the dough on a mesh screen ( you can buy these at any kitchen store) first,  then put on my toppings and place the whole thing on the stone, just to set the crust, then I remove the screen and let the stone do it’s work for the next 8-10 minutes.
  8. If you are using fresh mozzarella and sauce, it might be wise to place the dough on the screen and par-bake it for about 3 minutes, then place your sauce and toppings on, and go from there.  Fresh mozzarella becomes very wet when cooked and can ruin a good pie in matter of minutes.
  9. The toppings are the fun creative part.  I say, just go for it!  Make up any fun combination you can think of!  Gorgonzola, walnuts, spinach, and red onion are unbelievably amazing!
  10. It is always nice to give a twist of the cracked pepper, sea salt, and fresh basil before serving!

Here is my classic pepperoni lovers (boar’s head is the best, but I didn’t have any)

And here is my spinach, fresh garlic, spicy olive, red onion, and pepp. white pie

Have fun experimenting and let me know what combinations you come up with!



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