Making pizza at home is not an easy task.
However, with attention to details, a lot of patience and practice, your hard work will be rewarded in the form of a really good and flavorful crust.
Let me start by saying that I don't believe there is such a thing as the perfect pizza recipe: mine is the result of 10 years of experimenting with many different ones.
Before getting to the procedure, let's talk about all the elements that influence its outcome.
Active dry yeast is the easiest choice: it needs to be activated by dissolving it in hot water ( 100-110F) and by adding a pinch of sugar. Make sure to use a thermometer, since a water temperature higher than 110F might kill the yeast. Little yeast (no more than 1/4 of a tablespoon for 1 lb of flour) is essential to make the dough rise the right way over a longer period of time. Too much of it causes many negative effects, ranging from difficulty in rolling out the dough to indigestibility and yeasty taste.
There are many kinds of flours available: I recommend using one with a high protein content (11> grams of protein every 100 grams of flour). That will allow a longer rise.
The more water in the dough, the easier it will be to roll out and the crisper it will be on the outside and the chewier on the inside.
Salt inhibits yeast, so it is important to add it after the dough is formed.
The longer the dough will rise, the more digestible and flavorful, as the yeast slowly eats its way through the sugars.
Don't overload your pizza with too many toppings. Use good sauce and mozzarella. Make your tomato sauce by blending canned peeled tomatoes, a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and add fresh basil at the end. Make sure to drain the mozzarella before using it, as it will get the dough too wet otherwise.
INGREDIENTS (4 servings)
Flour: 4 cups
Water: 1.5 cups
Yeast: 1/4 tablespoon
Sugar: a pinch
Salt: 1 tablespoon
1) In a cup, dissolve the yeast and a pinch of sugar in a couple of spoonfuls of hot water (100-110F). Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.
2) In a capable bowl, add the remaining water, the dissolved yeast and gradually all the flour. Mix well using a wooden spoon.
3) Once the dough is formed, add salt.
4) Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, using the heel of your hands
5) Place the dough in a sealed container and let it sit for at least 4 hours in a draft-free area, to allow it to double up in size.
6) Divide the dough into 4 equal portions, stretch and knead each one of them and mold gently to make 4 balls. Cover them with a dump towel for about 2 hours or in sealed containers.
7) Turn the oven on at 550F with convection function. Put a small pot of water at the buttom. That will create moisture and will prevent the pizza from drying out. It is preferable to use a pizza stone, as it reaches a desirable temperature for the pizza to cook. Place that or a baking dish in the middle of the oven.
8) Dust some flour on your hands and carefully pick up one of the pizza balls. Put a little flour on the work surface. Using your fingertips, start stretching out the dough from the center outward, making sure to not squeeze out the air bubbles in the borders. Then, pick it up and carefully stretch it either using your fists or or by flipping the dough between both hands, always paying attention to the borders. Finish stretching it on the work surface with both hands (watch the video below).
9) Lay the dough on a pizza peel or on 2 pieces of lightly floured cardboard, as showed on the video below. Add toppings and bake it for about 6 to 8 minutes. When the borders become golden brown, your pizza is ready.
10) This is a trick of mine that helps immensely: instantly cover your pizza with a pot or a pan for 3 to 5 minutes. This will allow the crust to soften, obtaining a fully-cooked pizza with an amazing texture, instead of an hard brick.
TYPES OF PIZZA
The possibilities are endless... but always use good ingredients.To make a Margherita pizza, pour 2 tablespoons of red sauce on the dough, spread it from the center outward, leaving almost 2 inches on the borders without. Then, add some basil leaves, the slices of mozzarella and the rest of the ingredients. Don't put too much sauce or mozzarella, or your pizza will turn into a soggy mess. To make a sauceless pizza, pour a little oil on the dough and gently distribute throughout. Then add the slices of mozzarella and the rest of the ingredients.