Friday, March 25, 2011

Cooking Light Neopolitan Pizza Dough

When I was a kid and my parents used to order pizza, I would always grab a slice, peel off all the cheese and eat the saucy crust. As I got older, peeling of all the cheese has matured to peeling off only some of the cheese and blotting the rest of it with about half a roll of paper towels to remove the puddles of oil pooling on my slice. I love pizza, but I have my limits on how much grease and cheese I can consume before turning a not-so-pretty shade of green and laying in the fetal position on the couch for the rest of the night. While the hubby and I do order pizzas from time to time (sometimes you just have that craving!), for the most part, when we want a ‘za fix, we’ll make it ourselves. Pizza doesn’t have to be a greasy , oil-laden, gloopy cheesy mess.

My first pizzas were as simple as putting sauce and cheese on some sort of bread – ritz crackers, bagels, pitas, and English muffins. While tasty, they lack the true ‘spirit’ of a good pizza, the chewy yet crunchy crust. I progressed to using packaged pizza dough mixes. Most just called for adding water and maybe a little olive oil. It’s a running joke in our family how many times I have screwed this dough up. You’d think after 4 or 5 times, not only would I not need to read the label to know how much water to put in, I wouldn’t misread the label every single time. It’d call for one-third cup of water, I’d add two-thirds and then wonder why I had a soupy mess on my hands. A smack on the forehead and some additional flour later, I’d salvage the dough and we’d have our pizza.

Not until about last year did I start making our crusts from scratch. I’ve been through about four recipes so far, and am coming close to my ideal crust. A chewy crust on top, with a little crispiness on the bottom, with a lot of irregularly sized bubbles. My favorite pieces always had the gigantic bubble that practically created a cavern in the crust. I’ve tried several cooking methods, and have found that high heat for a short period of time creates the crust we like. It does take a little bit of planning to have fresh pizza dough on the day you want it, but it is definitely worth it. I love adding a little garlic powder to my dough for a little extra somethin’-somethin’.

Not only do you have the freedom to personalize your toppings, you can also dial back the cheesiness if you are like me. Fair warning though, if you like a LOT of toppings, you will have a difficult time transferring your pizza to your cutting board. Keep it relatively simple, and you’ll be rewarded.
Neopolitan Pizza Dough
Adapted from Cooking Light
Because this classic Neapolitan-style pizza is so simple, it depends on quality ingredients: Use the best fresh mozzarella and basil you can find.
Yield: 5 servings (serving size: 2 wedges)

1 cup warm water (100° to 110°), divided
8 ounces bread flour (about 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons)
2 ounces semolina flour
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
4 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 tsp Garlic Powder
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup Pizza Sauce
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese

Pour 3/4 cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attached. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and spoons; level with a knife. Add flour to 3/4 cup water; mix until combined. Cover and let stand 20 minutes. Combine remaining 1/4 cup water and yeast in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly. Add yeast mixture, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to flour mixture; mix 5 minutes or until a soft dough forms. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray; cover surface of dough with plastic wrap lightly coated with cooking spray. Refrigerate 24 hours.

Remove dough from refrigerator. Let stand, covered, 1 hour or until dough comes to room temperature. Punch dough down. Press dough out to a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured baking sheet, without raised sides, sprinkled with cornmeal. Crimp edges to form a 1/2-inch border. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap.

Position an oven rack in the lowest setting. Place a pizza stone on lowest rack. Preheat oven to 550°. Preheat the pizza stone for 30 minutes before baking dough.

Remove plastic wrap from dough. Sprinkle dough with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread Pizza Sauce evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Arrange cheese slices evenly over pizza. Slide pizza onto preheated pizza stone, using a spatula as a guide. Bake at 550° for 11 minutes or until the crust is golden. Cut pizza into 10 wedges, serve.


Rick said...


Maris (In Good Taste) said...

Love pizza and yours looks delicious

Caroline said...

Maris - Thank you! It is such a step-up from the pre-packaged mixes! I love when the hubby suggests pizza night now!

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