Napoletana Pizza

NOTE: The pizza dough HAS to rise overnight–plan ahead!

I love pizza. Then again, show me a person who doesn’t. Actually, don’t. That’s depressing. Aside from it’s amazing flavor and versatility, my absolute favorite thing about pizza is the crust. I am incredibly picky about pizza crust. It needs to have a crisp bottom with a decent amount of chew–but not so much chew that the dough gets to be more soft than crisp. Am I making any sense? I’m probably not making any sense. I’ve tried my fair share of pizza dough recipes but none of them have even come close to replicating the kind of crust that I salivate over.

Until now.

I first saw this recipe on 101 Cookbooks about two years ago (if you don’t read that blog already, go read it. It’s fantastic), but set my heart on making it early last year. I went to the store, bought some yeast, got more flour, and thought I was ready to go–until I realized I had no large food-safe plastic bags. I finally managed to procure some over a weekend at home and came back to my apartment, ready to cook—only to discover what was to be the beginning of the great cockroach and mouse infestation. Needless to say, my cooking plans were shot.

So here I am, 1 year later, in a new apartment, finally making this pizza. Is it sad that I am bouncing in excitement right now? It is so good. I don’t even have a pizza stone, and I am obsessed with it. While this might not be instant gratification pizza, it is worth every stinking moment of anticipation. Here’s to pizza. Here’s to cooking. Here’s to having another slice. Happy eating!

Peter Reinhart’s Napoletana Pizza Dough
Recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients:

  • 4½ cups chilled, unbleached AP flour
  • 1¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • A little over 1 oz warm water (about 100 degrees)
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1¾ cup ice cold water–minus a little over 1 oz (i.e. the amount of warm water you are using)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Spray oil (olive or canola)
  • Semolina flour
  • Tomato sauce (will post quick sauce recipe on Monday)
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Basil
  • Any other topping your heart desires (be careful not to overdo it)

Equipment/Tools:

  • 1 large, food-safe plastic bag
  • 1 large baking sheet
  • 1 large bowl
  • 1 medium bowl filled halfway with ice cold water
  • 1 large metal spoon
  • Parchment paper

Directions:

  • In a glass, stir together the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Allow to proof 5-7 minutes until foamy.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt with a large metal spoon. Add in the yeast and stir until just distributed. Then, add in the ice water and olive oil. Stir until the flour is absorbed.
  • Now comes workout time (conversely, you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook, but think of this as a way to get out any frustration): Dip your hand in the bowl of cold water. Rotating the bowl with the other hand, work the dough into a smooth mass. I found this was easiest when I reached into the bowl and kind of twisted the dough–sort of like a dough hook would. This takes about 5-7 minutes. Rotate the bowl in the other direction every so often to further develop the gluten. Keep dipping your hand in the water as needed to keep the dough from devouring your hand.
  • The dough will be sufficiently mixed when it is smooth, no longer sticky (just tacky to touch) and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It should still stick to the bottom of the bowl. If it doesn’t, add some more water. If for some reason it’s taking too long to detach from the sides, add in a bit more flour.
  • Flour your counter top. Dump the dough onto the counter and divide into six equal pieces.
  • Then, line the large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray with oil.
  • Take each piece of dough and form it into a ball. Place on the tray, spray top with oil, and then place the tray in the food safe plastic bag. Refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.

If you would like to freeze some of the dough, simply roll the dough balls in a little bit of olive oil and place in individual freezer bags. Transfer to the refrigerator the day before you plan on using them.

  • The day that you plan on making pizza, take the dough out of the fridge about 2 hours before you intend to bake them.
  • Flour the counter, spray with a bit of spray oil and pat the dough into a 5-inch circle dust with flour, spray lightly with oil, cover with plastic wrap or the large plastic bag you just used and let sit at room temperature for two hours.

  • Preheat your oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit and prep your toppings. If using a pizza stone, now is the time to throw it in there. If you don’t own one (like me), do not preheat your pizza pan/baking sheet.
  • When ready to bake, simply scoop the dough off the counter and use the “knuckle method” to form into a 9- to 12-inch circle. You can also toss the dough, but I am terrified of getting dough stuck to my ceiling. Plus this dough was incredibly helpful and stretched within a minute or two when using only the knuckle method.
  • Place on a pizza peel dusted with semolina flour or on the back of a large baking sheet dusted with semolina.

Why is this on parchment paper? Lapse of judgment. I don’t suggest doing that, but life’s too short for pizza-related regrets. Didn’t do this for the second one–it was much crisper.

  • Top with your desired toppings (no more than 3-4 things or your dough will be soaked) and bake for 6-8 minutes until crisp and ready.
  • Eat.

Makes enough dough for 6, 9- to 12-inch pizzas.

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