buonassisi_one_small.jpg (5467 bytes) PIZZA - DOUGH & A FEW BASICS

(Adapted from Vincenzo Buonassisi's PIZZA Plus, English Edition, William Collins & Sons Ltd. 1985.   Original Italian Edition by Gruppo Editoriale Fabbri, S.p.A., Milan, 1982.   ISB 0-00-411202-4)

INGREDIENTS

Starter

2 Tsp. Yeast - active dry or 4/5 small cake yeast (14 g)
1/4 Cup Water - warm (59 ml)
3/4 Cup Flour - unbleached all-purpose (100g)

Dough

7/8 - 1 1/4 Cups Water -  (207 - 296 ml) [See Note 1]
2 1/4 Cups Flour - unbleached all-purpose (300g)
1 Tsp. Salt (5g)
Note 1: Using 7/8 cup of water will result in a less wet, or soft dough; a dough which is easier to make and work with when making the pizza.  Using 1 1/4 cups of water will result in a very wet dough.  Wet doughs are harder to work with, but result in a crust much more like pizza in Italy.  If working with a wet dough is unfamiliar, The Artisan has posted a piece on working with wet doughs.  This can be accessed via the link provided here. Working with Wet Doughs. To return to the recipe from the referenced link, please click the BACK button on your browser.

PROCEDURE

Starter

Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water and allow it to stand for approximately 5 -10 minutes. Add the 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, and mix until the flour is absorbed. Cover the starter with a cotton towel and allow it to remain at room temperature for 1 hour.

Dough

Mix the salt (1 tsp.) with the flour (2 1/4 cup). Add the additional 7/8 to 1 1/4 cups of water to the starter. The water should be at room temperature. Add the flour/salt mixture, and continue to mix the ingredients to the consistency of a soft dough. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.

Divide the dough into 3 portions. Shape each into a ball. Dust a piece of canvas (untreated, 100% cotton), or a proofing board (1/4 inch thick lumber core plywood works well) with flour. Place the 3 portions of dough on the flour dusted surface. Cover with a cotton or linen towel, and allow them to rise until double their original size. this usually takes approximately 1 1/2 - 2 hours.  (Depending upon how soon the dough will be used, the risen portions can be wrapped individually in plastic wrap, placed in a plastic bag, and stored in the refrigerator for several days, or frozen for up to 2 months. If refrigerated or frozen prior to use, allow the portions to come to room temperature before they are rolled out.)

As the dough is rising, place a baking stone in the oven and set the temperature to 500 F. Allow the oven to heat for 30 minutes.

Fold the edge of each portion of dough toward the center, kneading it gently, while maintaining a round shape. Place each portion onto a floured work surface. Work with each portion individually. Roll the dough into a circular shape of about 10-12 inches. [See Pizza Info below]  Drizzle at least 1 Tsp. of Olive Oil over the pizza, spreading it with your hand or a paper towel. All of the surface except for an inch around the edge should be covered with a thin layer of olive oil.  The coating of olive oil serves a number of purposes:  It coats the dough thereby making it impermeable to the water in the tomato or other toppings.  thus the pizza has less tendency to become soggy and to stick to t he peel.  Additionally, the olive oil heats faster and assists in the cooking of the ingredients.

The initial topping, except in "White Pizza", should consist of 3 - 4 tablespoons of crushed fresh or canned tomatoes. This should be spread thinly over the olive oil with the back of a large spoon or your fingers. (In authentic Italian pizza, the tomato base is thin enough to see the dough underneath, especially where the back of the spoon has spread the sauce.) Toppings such as cheese, sausage or prosciutto, mushrooms, or anchovies should rarely be thicker than the dough itself, and should not cover the edge of the pizza base. The taste of a pizza dough should be complemented by the ingredients. Toppings should be added to enhance the flavor of the base, not overwhelm it.   Click Here for topping ideas and suggestions.

After the toppings have been added to the base sprinkle a bit more olive oil over the toppings, slide the pizza onto a baker’s peel, and place it on the baking stone in the oven. It should be checked after 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 minutes. It is usually finished baking 5 1/2 minutes after being placed in the oven. [See the "Two Stone",  Zinski Technique below for a great cooking method.]

Remove the pizza from the oven, and cut it into individual slices using a pizza cutter.   Serve immediately


Pizza info

Each of the above portions of dough should make a pizza base about 10 - 12 inches in diameter. The size of each pizza is determined by how thick or thin a portion of dough may be rolled out. Don't worry if your pizza comes out a bit oblong, or even rectangular. The important thing is the thickness of the pizza. The quantity of dough for each portion may be adjusted to make more or fewer pizzas. In general, the dough should be thin. The classic Neapolitan pizza is a little over 1/8 inch thick, with a thin center and a little thicker edge. The edge, which puffs up a bit during baking, forms a rim, that serves to keep the ingredients in the center. The Roman pizza is a little thinner than the Neapolitan. It is no more than 1/8 inch thick from the center to the edge. Since Roman toppings are less fluid than Neapolitan, they do not need to be contained by a rim.

A Technique for Making Wood burning Style Pizza in a Home Oven

Food News Group members are more often than not a dedicated group of people who take cooking and eating rather seriously.  As such we are always trying to improve upon methods of cooking our favorite things.   One of the most talked about subjects on a number of these groups is Pizza: How to make it, How to cook it, and How to eat it.  The How to make it is a topic on which almost everyone has an opinion.   Thus it was with great interest that we tried the "Two Stone Method" of Steve Zinski, a fellow food group member and a pizza aficionado.  He suggested that two baking stones be used rather than one.  The first to be placed on the lowest rack, and the second on the rack just below the broiler element or flame.  Having positioned them thus, preheat the oven at 500 - 550 for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour.  Cook the pizza for about 4 minutes on the lower stone, then turn the broiler on and move the pizza to the upper stone, directly under the broiler.  Allow it to cook there for a couple of minutes or until the crust is bubbled and crisp, even a bit blackened.  [See note below on cooking times.]

Steve's technique results in the closest thing to a brick oven pizza that we have had  in our approximately 27 years of making pizza .  Please note that the exact cooking times will vary with the thickness of the pizza. We make Italian style, thin pizza and they are finished in 4-5 minutes.   Actually after the 3rd or 4th pizza,  the time is even shorter as the oven and stones are now very hot. 


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Last updated on: 06/25/07 06:59:24 PM