Saturday, October 8, 2011

Neapolitan Pizza Dough

On my trip to Italy last summer, I became particularly enthralled with the local version of pizza. I had already had some exposure through a place in Boulder called Pizzeria Locale where they do the completely authentic wood-fired thing.

For us mere cooking mortals, this recipe might be the next best thing. It is not, strictly speaking, my own, but rather a combination of others I've found around the web.

Step 1: Yeast Preparation

Just about any baking project means getting your yeast going. I know there are recipes out there that just have you add it to the flour mix, but I'm convinced this works better.

In a small bowl, add a teaspoon of your basic household yeast such as Fleishmann's.

To this add about 3/4 of a cup of very warm but not hot water. If you can't run your hand under it, it's too hot. Mix the yeast and water until the yeast if fully dissolved.

The key distinction I found in Neapolitan dough is the use of cake flour. I suspect you could also use sifted flour but not owning a sifter, I settled for a brand like this:

Since we're already using our own yeast, you want to make sure it's not a self-rising type.

Any of this can be done by hand, but if you have one of these bad boys with a dough hook, it will make the process easier and much faster.

While your yeast is doing its thing, combine a half cup of the cake flour and a full cup of regular all-purpose flour. Too add a little taste, you can also add a teaspoon of salt. I think kosher salt is best:

Start the mixer (or your arm if you don't have one) to combine the dry ingredients.

Once that is done, slowly add your yeast liquid.

If the result is not a nicely formed dough ball, slowly add a little more warm water. Ultimately you want dough that is tacky. That is to stay it will feel sticky but when you pull your finger away, no dough sticks to it.

A dough ball that is ready to rise looks about like this

In a medium sized glass or plastic bowl, add a little olive oil, about a table spoon. This will prevent the dough from sticking as it rises and also impart a little bit of flavor.

Mix your dough around in the oil to fully coat it and then cover the bowl with some plastic wrap

Any warm place will work for the rise, but what I do is set my oven to "warm"  until it pre-heats which is about 170 degrees. Then I turn it off. Prior to putting my bowl in, I leave the door open for a moment and let it cool back a little bit. Then the dough goes into the oven, power off, for about an hour. When it's done, it should pretty much fill up your bowl:

In future posts I'll talk more about toppings, but now you have the foundation. By the way, when using the oven (as opposed to the grill) I always use a pizza stone that I preheat with the oven to 500*. Once the oven reaches that temp, I toss corn meal on the stone to prevent sticking. Cook time is about 10 minutes.

The finished product, is always good!

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