I have been in love with pizza since I was 9 years old when my uncle made me a Kraft pizza mix complete with sliced hotdogs…YUCK!…however, at the time it was sublime. Happily, I have had the fun of eating pizza from all over the world. I lived in New York City during the 80’s. I am quite sure that I ate pizza at least once every day and sometimes twice! Joey D’s in Queens remains a glorious memory as does Famous Ray’s in the Village. American/Canadian pizza is very different from the pizza you are offered in Italy. In North America most pizza places serve a fairly bready slice with a lot of sauce, stuff and tons of thick cheese. In Italy the pizza is light, thin, crisp and divine. The pizza that I prepare for my family is closer to the Italian style. I use a baking stone to ensure that I get as crispy a crust as possible.
Baking stones have become trendy in the last few years so they are readily available. You can use unglazed tiles if you have a few lying around. Be sure to put the stone or tiles in to a cold oven and then turn on the heat. You want the internal temperature of the stone to be as hot as the oven. you also want to avoid having the stone break.
Give yourself a 4 hour lead so that your dough has lots of time to raise…you can’t rush perfection.
I have tried to improve Alice Waters’ pizza dough recipe…impossible – it is the best!
to make the sponge
2 teaspoons active dried yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup rye flour
mix together in a small bowl…cover with cling wrap and let rest 30 minutes
transfer the “sponge” to the bowl of your stand mixer [this can also be done by hand]…add
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
turn machine on low until mixture is combined then allow to knead for 10 minutes…dough should be soft and moist
add more flour if necessary but resist the urge to add too much
place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 2 hours…punch it down and let it rise again for 1 hour
preheat oven to 500*F
have your sauce, toppings and cheese ready to add as soon as the dough is shaped to prevent the pizza from sticking to the wooden paddle
this recipe will make 2 nine inch pizzas…shape the dough on a heavily floured wooden paddle with a rolling pin…make sure there are no sticky spots
add your toppings starting with your pizza sauce…remember this is a thin crust, keep the toppings light…add your cheese…then your treasures
my favorite toppings/treasures are fresh mozzarella, skim of tomato sauce and proscuitto
your whole assembly should take under 2 minutes…give your paddle a couple of shakes back and forth to make sure the pizza is loose then slip it on to the baking stone
check at 15 minutes…the pizza should be browned and bubbling