PERFECT PIZZA DOUGH FOR YOUR HOME OVEN
3 1/2 unsifted and leveled* cups unbleached all purpose flour (specifically 20 oz. if you have a scale)
1 1/2 cups water (cold if for overnight rise. warm if for quick rise– refer to temp directs on yeast package)
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 t. if from jar: economical and easily found at many supermarkets)
1/8 t. of sugar (not necessary for overnight rise- use when proofing yeast for quick rise)
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. sea salt (not iodized and fine crystal)
*Pro pizzerias measure their flour by weight. Weighing your flour insures the proportions ideal for hand kneading and/or a home mixer. The finished dough ball should weigh just over 2 lbs. then be divided into 4 smaller uniform balls. Each half pound dough ball when stretched into a 12″ to 14″ thin crust, and topped properly, bakes up excellently in a properly heated home oven outfitted with a quality pizza stone.
1. My pantry for making perfect pizza at home plus. I’ve got my oven (with baking stone inside: 1/2″ thick is the way to go) preheating at least an hour before I start baking pies (go as high as your oven will go, usually 500-550F).
2. Using a super fine grater/Microplane I make of “paste” of three very fresh cloves of garlic, stir into the tomatoes and that’s all: The sauce will cook on your pizza and the flavors will be bright tomatoes and fresh garlic.
3. A slab of marble or other cool, smooth surface is ideal for stretching out your dough.
4. Be gentle as you stretch your dough out, or you’ll literally beat the “breath” out of it, resulting in a flat, cardboard-y pizza. Be kind to your dough and it will return the favor with crispy outsides and pleasingly bready/chewy insides.
5. Slicing fresh mozzarella.
6. Cheese first, then when you ladle on your sauce you’ll hit each slice of mozzarella with a spot of tomato-y “protection”: This helps to preserve the milkiness of fresh mozzarella by not letting it get too toasted all over.
7. Full sauce coverage is not necessary. A relatively spare drizzling of sauce will spread out beautifully with the mozzarella on your pie as it bakes. Also, oversaucing will compromise the crispness of the crust.
8. A grating of good, sharp pecorino to add savory richness to the pie and toasty, caramelized bits of cheese on the outermost edge.
9. Every time you open your oven door you lose precious heat. Get your pies in and out pronto, and if your oven is windowless, avoid excessive/prolonged peeking as your pizzas cook (you can wait at least 4 minutes before you’ll need to check the progress of your pie).
10. You can really take many a pizza over the top by adding fresh basil, oregano, etc., right after it comes out of the oven. The heat from the pie really opens up the flavor of the herbs.
11. A drizzle of some good extra virgin olive oil is another fantastic finishing touch.
12. Cut, serve, bow, eat!
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