Knife making takes a break to make some pizza. Here are the ingredients for the dough. I make it up a day in advance and let it rise once and then punch it back down.
Then it’s in the refrigerator for a day, punch it down, form the pie, put on the ingredients and let it rise one more time before cooking it at 500F. I use a pizza stone in a preheated oven for a full hour. Also I use pizza screens to give it a nice crisp crust. I suggest a Miller Lite while making your pizza dough.
Odd science this pizza making. Everything gets measured by the gram to replicate the exact recipe. This is high gluten flour that gives the crust a nice chewy texture. A little oil also gives it a nice chew and fat taste on the tongue.
The water is heated to around 103F and then I add the yeast, a little sugar and flour to help the yeast ‘kick’. After 10 minutes a foam forms on top of the water to show the yeast has fully activated and you have a good healthy batch. Yeast and rising of the dough is a big part of the taste. Rising multiple times gives it a great taste.
The Kitchen Aid mixer with the improved dough hook kneads the dough for 10 minutes.
Pepperoni before and after cooking. 5 kinds of cheese with fresh Basil leaves sprinkled on top.
Italian sausage, portabella mushrooms before and after cooking.
Italian sausage before and after. You can clearly see the pizza screen in these shots.
The screen is available from any restaurant supply house or online. Highly recommended.
This is New York style pizza
This is all going to be more than you want but here goes.
I use High Gluten flour. So does your local pizza place. This isn’t bread flour or all-purpose flour. It will be labeled and sold clearly as High Gluten flour. I have buy mine over the internet. I use Sir Lancelot and have to order it in 3lb bags 15 at a time. High gluten gives pizza dough the chewy texture. (Neapolitan pizza is light and fluffy and uses another kind of flour and is something else entirely – so does deep-dish – stay focused here, we are on New York-style pizza.)
I also use pizza screens. Basically a screen shaped like a circle. I also use a pizza stone. A little thicker is better to soak up the heat. I preheat the oven with the stone for an hour at 500f. I cook the pizza on the stone, using a pizza screen. You can cook directly on the stone if you want. It’s a mess if you do. I also have a pizza peel. Those big long paddles you see in the pizza places. You’ll want one too if you are going to get serious about making pizza. These things are all over the place in cooking stores and on eBay.
High Gluten Flour
Instant Dry Yeast
Sea Salt Medium Grind
Water (filtered or distilled)
This recipe uses bakers percents. Everything is expressed as weight as a percent of the flour. It’s much easier to scale up or down a batch size. This recipe will make enough for a 15” (or so) pie. It’s also easier to scale ingredients in grams so I convert it to grams. The ingredients and percentages here probably are very close to 90% of pizza places.
Scale out all of your ingredients. Heat the water to around 100F but no more than 105F (anything hotter kills the yeast). Add the instant yeast and just a little sugar and flour to get it started. It should foam up in 10 minutes, if not, your yeast is dead.
Mix the remaining dry ingredients for a minute. Add the water/yeast and oil and run it in the mixer for 10 minutes. If you don’t have a mixer, it’s workout time. High Gluten flour is very tough when the gluten ‘grabs’.
After that, let it rise until it is double in size then punch it back down.
Place the dough ball into a bag with a little cooking. Put it into the fridge overnight to rise again. The yeast rising process is what “color’s” the dough taste. A couple of hours before we are going to use it, remove it from the fridge, let it warm up and punch it down again. Now let it sit for a bit. The gluten in the flour is pretty pissed off at the point the dough will not stay stretched out. The gluten has to relax. Let it sit for another 20 minutes or so. To help it relax, talk to it nicely, like a house plant. Have a beer and chill a bit yourself.
Now using your hands, press it out into a 15” circle. You can also practice tossing it now. If you drop it when tossing, pick it up before the 5-second rule kicks in. I sometimes use a roller if I’m in a hurry and the gluten is acting tough. Using a roller presses out too much of the gas from the yeast. I try to avoid it but sometimes you have to.
Use cooking spray on your pizza screen. Place the slip (dough) onto the screen and roll or pinch up the edge just a little.
Spread just a little olive oil for taste on the dough and spread it around with your hand. I use flavored olive oil that is made for dipping bread and rolls. Get what you want to use.
Now add the sauce. Don’t use metal spoons on the sauce or an unlined cooking pot for making the sauce. It will change the taste.
Add the cheese and then the meat and other toppings.
Finish by sprinkling more cheese. In the stores, you will find jars of shredded cheese that has 3 or 4 kinds of cheese mixed together. This is great stuff. Look for parmesan, asiago, romano and aged provolone mix. Sprinkle this as your lost topping. Garnish with a few fresh basil leaves. It will add some very nice flavor and aroma.
Let it sit, all made up for another 30 to 60 minutes while the oven heats up.
The sauce can be made earlier or now:
In a non-metal pan or lined pan, heat the following to a slow simmer for 20 minutes or so. The pizza cooks so fast at 500f it doesn’t have time to heat up the sauce so this sauce gets cooked. You can cook it or not. I think the taste is better pre-cooked.
I use Escalon 6-N-1 crushed tomatoes. I had to order them online. It’s awesome stuff. You can sub what you like. It’s basically 28oz can of crushed tomatoes.
I also use Penzey’s Pizza Spice – www.penzeys.com
I buy it in the 1 pound bag. Get this stuff. You’ll like it.
1ea 28 oz can of ground tomatoes
1ea 12oz can diced tomatoes
a sprig of fresh basil leaves if you can find them
1 TBS of Penzey’s pizza spice
½ TBS of minced dry onions
½ TBS of garlic powder or one clove of fresh garlic crushed
simmer for 20 minutes, let cool
The cheese matters. At 500f cooking temp, cheap cheese breaks down and changes the texture. I buy mine from Sam’s club, Stella brand I think, in big bags that has mozzarella, provolone and cheddar all mixed together. In any case, you want 50% mozzarella, 30% provolone and 20% cheddar cheese. That is my best guess as to what the mix is in the big bags I buy. If you just put on mozzarella, the texture won’t seem right and the taste will be flat. Mozzarella in the US is a bit bland. Italian style Buffalo milk Mozzarella has lot’s more zip but is hard to find and I don’t care for it. Your choice.
Cook at 500f for around 11 minutes. The edge of the crust will turn nice and brown. If you really layered on the toppings, add a couple of minutes and accept that your crust edge will be very brown before the middle is fully cooked.
Take it out and let it sit for a couple of minutes to firm up and allow the oils from the cheese to soak back in. Cut and eat.