Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pizza Margherita

I am on a quest for the perfect pizza crust dough.  I have tried three or four recipes, this being one of them and have yet to find THE ONE.  This  recipe was closer than any so far, so I thought I would share.

This is the Neapolitan classic from Rome, pizza margherita.  A very simple pie with a few simple, excellent ingredients: tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, olive oil and fresh basil leaves. Because tomatoes are less than optimal at our stores currently,  I used canned San Marzano tomatoes from Italy and they were delicious.  The ones I had were infused with little pieces of basil which added to their rich flavor.

I invested in a pizza stone a couple of years ago and let me tell you, it makes a huge difference in obtaining that pizza parlor, crisp, slightly charred crust.  It does take some preheating in a 500 degree oven for at least a half hour before sliding your pie onto it.  I also have a pizza peel so I don't have to risk burning myself during the transfer of the pie to the oven. 
My quest will continue for the perfect pizza pie crust and when I find it, I'll let you know.

Pizza Margherita

1 packet active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp salt
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup cornmeal

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water in a large bowl and set aside for 10 minutes. Combine flours and salt in a small bowl.  Add 1 cup flour mixture to yeast, stir well until combined, stir in 1/2 cup water, then another cup of flour and continue to stir.  Add remaining 1 cup flour, gradually stir in 1/4 cup water and mix well.

Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until it has a smooth, uniform texture, 10-12 minutes.  (I did this with my Kitchenaide mixer and a dough hook and it only took 5 minutes.)  Divide dough into 2 even balls.   Coat insides of 2 medium bowls with 1/2 tsp oil in each, put dough in bowls, cover with plastic wrap and set aside until dough doubles in bulk, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

1 large can of San Marzano tomatoes (or 2 lbs. very ripe fresh plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp chili flakes (optional)
16 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Drain tomatoes well in a colander to remove juices.  Transfer tomatoes to a bowl and add oregano,chili flakes, and olive oil.  Adjust seasoning, stir and set aside.

Put pizza stone in oven and preheat oven to 500 to 550 degrees.  Sprinkle pizza peel with cornmeal.  Punch down 1 dough ball and flatten it on peel.  Stretch dough into a thin 12 inch circle with a slightly raised edge.  Spread half the topping over dough, top with mozzarella slices, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. 
Carefully slide onto the pizza stone and bake until crust is golden brown and crisp, about 12-15 minutes. Take from oven, sprinkle with fresh basil leaves and let sit for 4-5 minutes before cutting and serving.

1 comment:

KandN said...

I love Margherita pizzas! Have you tried the dough recipe from Pizza: Any Way You Slice It! by Michele Scicolone and Charles Scicolone? I think that's the book daughter Fran uses ... I'll have to dig further.