2010-09-29

Speaking of Pizza.....


Apparently, if you want authentic Neapolitan pizza, you want a Pizza Margherita. There are many versions, but all with the same basic ingredients: fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella. Simple, yes. But even so, they're not always easy to find at good quality. I found a recipe that's pretty good, even when I substitute for, erm, less than fresh. However, since tomatoes and basil are in season right now, it seems like a good time to share... especially after seeing the greasy, yummy picture on here a few days ago.



Pizza Margherita
The bit of cake flour is essential in producing a crispy crust. Do not substitute. White whole wheat flour can be used, but it does make the crust a bit more chewy. If you have fresh tomatoes, substitute about 4 good sized roma tomatoes cut into chunks for the canned tomatoes, and processed and drained the same way. If you use mozzarella packed in brine, pat dry before using. You can shape the second dough round while the first is baking, but do not top until right before it goes in the oven. If you want to use a pizza stone, pre-heat the stone with the oven. A pizza peel dusted with cornmeal or flour helps greatly to get the dough rounds on the hot stone, but I don't have one, so I manage without.

Dough
1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
OR
2 teaspoons regular yeast
1 cup very warm water
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces), plus extra for dusting work surface and peel
1 cup cake flour (4 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
2 teaspoons sugar

Topping
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
OR
4 good sized roma tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 small clove garlic, or more to taste, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or more, to taste!)
Table salt
16 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

  1. For the crust Add yeast to warm water and let sit for a few minutes until yeast is dissolved. Meanwhile add flours, sugar and salt to a stand mixer or dough-capable food processor. When yeast is dissolved, add water to flour and knead thoroughly: ` 10 mins. in the stand mixer, or 2-3 mins. in the food processor, until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl. If dough is too sticky add a bit more flour, if too crumbly, add a bit more warm water. Allow to rise in warm, draft-free environment, 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.
  2. For the topping In clean bowl of food processor, process tomatoes until crushed, two or three 1-second pulses. Transfer tomatoes to fine-mesh strainer set over bowl and let drain at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to release liquids. Just before shaping pizza rounds, combine drained tomatoes, sugar, garlic (if using), 1 tablespoon basil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in bowl. (DO NOT ADD SALT BEFORE TASTING IF YOUR CANNED TOMATOES WERE PACKED WITH SALT!)
  3. Shaping and topping the pizza Set oven to 500 degrees. Punch down dough and divide it into two equal parts. Shape one part into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and transfer to pizza pan. Top evenly with half your tomato mixture and place pan in oven for about 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven, and top with half the mozzarella cubes and return to oven for another 5ish minutes, just until the cheese melts. Remove from oven, sprinkle generously with basil (leaving some for the other pizza!), drizzle with about a teaspoon of olive oil, and let sit for a minute or two before cutting. And then watch in amazed satisfaction as it disappears in front of your eyes. Oh yeah, and repeat this step for the second dough round.
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