Neapolitan Pizza Crust – Makes Two 12 inch Pizzas
(or a single bigger one!)
Adapted from my fabulous friend Ann Minard’s blog La Buona Cucina
1.5 tsp. yeast (or 1 packet)
1.5 cups slightly warm (110 F.) water
1 Tbsp. sugar
5 Tbsp. cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil
4 cups flour (freshly ground whole grain is best)
1.5 tsp. salt
Italian seasonings: parsley, oregano, garlic
Mixer Method: Mix warm water, yeast, and sugar until sudsy on medium-high speed in a Kitchen Aid or other dough-capable mixer, using a normal mixer attachment. Then reduce to medium-low speed. Switch to dough hook. Add 2.5 cups flour, oil, salt, and seasonings, then mix together until a ball forms, adding more flour by the half-cup as needed. Once it’s neither dry or sticky (sticky is better than dry), knead on medium-low speed for 7 minutes.
Hand Method: Mix warm water, yeast, and sugar then stir, allowing it to foam up. Place the dry ingredients in a bowl and make a well. Add the liquid, oil, salt, and seasonings. Mix together to form a ball. Knead for a good 10-20 minutes. Kneading is complete when the dough is smooth and elastic.
Cover the bowl with an oiled sheet of plastic wrap.
Note: A plastic bowl can be covered with wrap if the sides are wet first with water.
Let the dough rest until it doubles in size, at least one hour. Don’t punch and roll again, or it will fluff up like bread dough.
If using a pizza stone, place in oven to preheat at 450 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking. Move dough to a floured counter and divide in half. If you like, oil one of the dough balls and freeze in a freezer ziplock bag. Keeps for up to 3 months.
Stretching: Either roll dough into circles of your desired thickness with a rolling pin on a floured surface or use the dimpling method to stretch – form the dough balls into fat circles and let sit for a minute. Dimple with your fingers from the inside out, turning the dough as you go. When the dough reaches half the size you want it to be, start stretching it out by using one fist underneath and one hand to turn it: This is similar to the professional method used in pizza parlors only a lot slower and done on the counter instead of tossing it up in the air. If the dough gets tough and doesn’t want to stretch, allow to rest for a few minutes.
My family likes homemade marinara, shredded whole milk mozzarella, chopped vegetables roasted quickly in olive oil (while the pizza stone is heating – or sautéed in a pan), garlic, and fresh basil leaves.
When ready to bake, slide pizza with parchment onto the stone in the oven, place in a pan and set on the center rack if not using a stone.
Check oven frequently. Depending on the thickness, it should bake nicely in 5 to 12 minutes. Wait till crust is golden-brown and cheese on top is bubbly. Then use paddle to remove from oven and place on a large baking pan for slicing.
For an elegant touch, serve with freshly shredded parmagiano reggiano and basil infused olive oil. Bon appétit!