I admit it. I have become a pizza snob. I won’t say that I am a professional pizza maker, but I sure feel like one every time a blazing hot pie comes out of our oven and onto the dinner table (which is about once per week!). Yes, dining out an authentic pizzeria is a true joy, but getting a little flour on your own hands (and on your kitchen floor) can’t be topped (sorry for the bad pun).
My quest to make high quality pizza started several years ago. Admittedly, my first few attempts yielded mixed results. I tended to rush a bit too much and, with no offense to large pizza chains, I spent too much time loading the pizza with WAY too many ingredients. Once I stepped back and simplified everything, everything came together.
I have 2 rules of thumb that I stand by. Ultimately, any great pizza is made with a short list of quality ingredients and a great heat source.
At the heart of the recipe is the dough itself. My basic recipe is a hybrid of different recipes that I have found over the years and trial and error. I truly believe the 25% semolina flour gives the dough a nice “chew” without making it tough. I’ve mixed my dough by hand, in a food processor, and stand mixer. Of the 3 methods, I tend to have my best results with a stand mixer.
I yield one 14″, regular crust pie OR two 10″ thin-crust pies with:
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup semolina flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill )
3/4 cup warm water (~105F)
2 1/4 tsp. Dry Active Yeast
1 tsp. granulated sugar
2 TBSP Olive Oil
Pinch of salt
Premix the water, sugar and yeast in my stand mixer for a few seconds and let the yeast bloom up for about 5-10 minutes. Then, add the flour, mixing slowly at first and then increasing when it incorporates. I drizzle in the olive oil and mix for about 4 minutes. If the dough is sticking to the sides or bottom, I just add a bit of flour until it pulls away cleanly. Proof in a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap for 1 hour. Then, roll out or hand toss, using as much flour is needed to prevent the dough from sticking to you or anything it touches.
As far as toppings go, the simpler the better. For example, the pizza pictured here is simply a base of olive oil that was steeped with garlic and red pepper flakes, brushed onto the dough. I spread 4 ounces of basil pesto (right from my freezer from our summer garden) and a topping of mozzarella cheese and fresh ground pepper. Remember: the quality of ingredients is what makes the pizza great, not the quantity.
I have some quarry tiles that permanently sit on my lowest oven rack. As a frequent maker of pizza and breads, I just keep the tiles in the oven all the time. I, like many other home pizza cooks, have cracked many pizza “stones” over the years. After I discovered quarry tiles (on Amazon.com), I’ve been able to crank my oven to 550F and not worry about them cracking. And, I always preheat my even fully to 550F before I ever think of sliding my prepared pizza and toppings from the wooden peel.
I bake each pie until the bottom is cooked well. That tells me when the pizza is ready to pull from the oven.
Now, as all my future posts, this is what works for ME. Don’t rush making pizza like I did when I started. Do some research and find what works best for YOU! If you are new to this, you’ll be ready to write about your own tips of the pizza trade. Thanks for taking the time to read this! Wayne