Saturday, January 15, 2011

Jenny's Weekly Pizza Routine (with recipe for Neo-Neopolitan Pizza Dough)

If you've been paying attention to my weekly menus, you'll notice that at least once a week, we make pizza. That's because pizza is the best food in the world! Today I thought I'd share my weekly pizza routine.

I posted my old pizza crust recipe once before here, but this new pizza crust is much more like a pizza crust you'll find at a fancy pizza restaurant (it reminds me of the pizza crust from Punch Pizza in Highland Park, St. Paul (best pizza place in the Twin Cities, in my opinion). This pizza crust comes from Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart. This is another cookbook I can't recommend enough. Go buy it people!

The main disadvantage to this crust is that it does require being refrigerated overnight. It is actually very easy to do, just takes some advance thought. Because of this, every other weekend, I make pizza crusts and freeze them. The night before I want to make pizza, I take out as many crusts as I want and throw them in the refrigerator to defrost.

Lately we have been preferring personal pizzas, so I divide this recipe into five individual servings. This way I can eat meat on my pizza if I want (mmm, Canadian bacon) and Maddie gets to top her own pizza (she loads it up with vegetables, making her mama proud). You can divide up the dough however you'd like. For a large pizzas, divide the dough in half.

I strongly recommend using a kitchen scale to weigh the flour and water. A precise flour/water ratio always results in excellent pizza.

Neo-Neopolitan Pizza Dough

5 1/3 cups (24 oz/680 grams) unbleached bread flour
2 tsp salt, or 1 tbsp coarse kosher salt
1 tsp instant yeast
2 tbsp sugar
2 cups plus 2 tbsp (17 oz/482 grams) water, at room temperature
2 tbsp olive oil

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a mixer with a bread hook. Mix the dough at the lowest speed for one minute. You may also mix by hand using a large wooden spoon for one minute.
  2. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Mix the dough again for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Spread about 1 tsp of olive oil on a work surface and on your hands.
  5. Stretch and fold the dough once. (Click here for a video where Peter Reinhart demonstrates how to stretch and fold the dough.)
  6. Divide the dough and form it into a ball.
  7. If freezing, place each ball of dough into an oiled freezer bag. One day before using, take the dough out of the freezer and let it defrost in the refrigerator.
  8. If using the next day, place the dough into an oiled bowl and let rise in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or up to 4 days.
  9. On baking day, remove the dough about 90 minutes before you plan to bake it.
  10. On an oiled surface, with oiled hands, form the dough into tight balls. Set it on the counter covered loosely with plastic wrap.
  11. At least half an hour before baking, preheat the oven with a baking stone at the highest temperature allowed by your oven.
  12. Prepare your toppings.
  13. After at least 60 minutes, form the dough into a disk and stretch the dough gently with your hands. This takes a little bit of practice. Slide the dough onto the backs of your hands, lift it, and rotate it, using your thumbs to stretch it. If you mess up, no big deal, just form it into a ball again, let it rest for a few minutes, and try again.
  14. Place the dough on a floured pizza peel, top it, and slide it onto your pizza stone.
  15. Bake for 6-8 minutes, scoop it out with your peel, and enjoy!
If you don't have a pizza stone/peel, get one if you'll be doing this regularly. We also found that putting the pizza on a pan works ok, though it will take longer to cook. Just cook until the crust looks golden brown.

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