It is a common myth that it’s next to impossible to make a good pizza in your home oven. There are hundreds of recipes on the net that come close, but eventually you give up and decide to buy the pizza elsewhere. The crust doesn’t become as crunchy as you would like, and the bottom is too thick and doesn’t get cooked well.
But wouldn’t it be nice to make a perfect pizza in your own home – one that comes close to that perfect little italian place you always go on thursday nights?
I have found and tried out the very best recipe ever – and the best thing is, I am going to share it with you here. It is inspired by one of the worlds most recognized pizzaioli (pizza chefs) and has been adapted to make for a truly authentic italian pizza feeling.
This is how you get started. For best results, and to make the pizza taste most authentic, you need a pizza stone. This piece of ceramic or earthenware is put on the baking sheet to evenly distribute heat and to heat the pizza from below. In addition to the stone, it is good to have an oven that delivers high heat.
We start with the dough – the step that requires most work. In a bowl, add half a pint (0,25 ltr.) of cold water and add 2 grams of fresh brewery yeast with your fingers. Mix the yeast thoroughly into the water with your hands during 15 minutes. Yes, it seems much and unnecessary, but this step is essential for the dough to rise properly.
After this, add a bit less than a pound (440 grams) of wheat flour. And here the type of flour is important. It has to be the finest grind, and should be of high gluten content to make the dough as sticky as possible. Best would be the Italian “Tipo 00” flour if you can get it.
Mix the flour and the water thoroughly using only your hands and knead it for about 5 minutes until a uniform mass has formed. Only then add 5 grams of salt and continue kneading until the salt has distributed. Important: Do not add the salt before this step, otherwise the dough will not rise properly.
Now, begin kneading the dough with your hands. Press the dough to a hard surface with both of your palms until it flattens, then fold it once, and then flatten it again, and so on. This needs to be done for 20 minutes. After this, form a ball of dough and put it in a bowl to rest for one hour at room temperature. Cover the bowl with plastic foil to make it airtight.
After one hour, split the dough into three even pieces with a knife and form uniform balls of same size. Have your hands covered with flour so that the dough doesn’t stick.
Let the dough sit under cover again for 5 to 10 hours at room temperature. Do not let it sit for more than 15 hours or it will be too soft.
In the meantime, prepare the tomatoes. Take a can of peeled tomatoes and put the tomatoes in a bowl. Squash them with your fingers and add a bit of salt.
Prepare the mozzarella cheese the night before. Real masters use buffalo mozzarella from Italy. Cut it into small cubes and drain. Put the cubes in the fridge overnight so that it loses water.
Now, pre-heat the oven to 480 °F (250°C) or more, as hot as you can, for at least 20 minutes prior to putting the pizza. Be sure to have the pizza stone in the oven to pre-heat it as well. In the last 5 minutes before putting in the pizza, switch on the top grill if you have it, on full heat. This will cause the stone to reach maximum heat and ensures that the bottom of the pizza is properly cooked to a crusty finish.
Now take the dough balls carefully, and form the pizzas. Work only with your fingers from inside out, forming an extremely thin pizza that has a bit more dough on the outside to make a nice crust. Be sure to have your workplace covered with flour!
Then, put on some tomato sauce. Do not cover the outer crust, of course.
And now comes the big secret: Put the pizza into the oven (yes, only with the tomato sauce) and bake until the tomato sauce has lost most of its moisture and is close to drying up. This takes about 4 to 5 minutes. Now, add the mozzarella cheese, some fresh Basil leaves and a sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil, and bake for some more 4 to 5 minutes, until the cheese begins to foam, and is at the point to brown slightly.
Now you should have a perfect pizza: A slightly brown, crunchy crust, and perfectly melted mozzarella cheese. Enjoy!
A recommended book on Pizza cooking: The Ultimative Pizza Manual by Francesco Brunaldo