Let’s Talk Pizza

Hi there! More food, ha!

This was Saturday’s pizza, which was truly the BEST I’ve ever made, as in as good as Lombardi’s in New York City. The crust was light and chewy and the flavor perfectly balanced, a little yeast, a little salt. There was many a delicious sigh between the pair of us, I tell you.

What made it so good? Primarily, I think, the rise. I made the dough on Wednesday afternoon, with a very minimal knead (one minute or so, really just until it was no longer shaggy) before popping it into the fridge in a sealed glass container. I tried this to see if it would have the texture I like and be less of a bear on my tender tummy. With all I’ve learned about lectins and all that jazz, it seemed logical that the long rise would predigest a lot of what ails me. We’ll have to see, long term.

It rose only slightly in the fridge. Friday before bed, I took it out and set it on the counter, and it doubled in size by the morning. I made the pizza for lunch, and when I took it from the container it was bubbly and springy, like the New York dough of my dreams.

Another reason I think it was so fantastic is the fact that I started using a baking steel. I had a baking stone for a long time, but it was small and fragile. When I researched options online, this was much larger, pretty much unbreakable, and everyone who used the steel raved about it. It’s not cheap and weighs 15 pounds (!), but after considering the fact that my old stone was my third and could break at any moment, it seemed a smart investment. Boy howdy, was it.

Since I didn’t feel like grappling with it each time I wanted pizza, I left it in the oven when I bought it last year and haven’t taken it out since. As a result, I’ve ceased blind baking many of my pie crusts, as the heat of the steel is enough to do the job. More reason to LOVE it.

The pizza crust is crispier than it ever was on the stone, and I put it on a cooling rack while everything sets up to maintain the texture. I really cannot rave enough!

If you’d like to make your own, here’s my dough recipe, which makes two 10 – 12″ pizzas and can easily be doubled or tripled:

1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

2/3 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)

1 2/3 cups flour – all purpose or bread

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

Dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water until foamy, about 5-10 minutes. If it doesn’t foam, start over with water that is a little cooler. If it still doesn’t foam, your yeast is probably dead and you’ll need to get to the store, pronto. Mix in olive oil and pour over the flour and salt. Mix with a spoon or your hands until it comes together, then knead until the dough is no longer shaggy but not entirely smooth. Put in a bowl with enough room to at least double in size and cover tightly. Place in the fridge for at least 24 hours, preferably 60 to 72. Punch down dough and divide into two balls. Roll, stretch, or cajole into your desired shape and thickness.

Top how you like. I mix a small can of tomato paste with garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, and salt, until it tastes right, and divide it over the two pizzas. I only use fresh mozzarella, it’s got the best flavor and texture to my taste. A note, if you prefer using fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce (rather than the paste) and also use fresh mozzarella, this is A LOT of moisture. Go easy with the sauce and any other moisture laden topping, like mushrooms, the first time around. You really don’t want a sad, sad soup on top. The voice of experience talking, here. But don’t fret if it happens, you’ll get the hang of it!

Bake at 550 degrees, preferably on a steel, until it’s perfect. For me, it’s when the tomato sauce bubbles madly, usually about 4-5 minutes. Cool for a minute or two on a rack. Cut and eat and feel the JOY that is pizza!