Years and years ago, when I was in culinary school in New York City, I didn’t have a job, so I survived off of $1.50 Pizza by the slice. The Pizza in New York is famous for its crust; they say it’s the minerals in New York City water that makes it so special and I’m pretty sure they are correct. I’ve tried various recipes to try to recreate the pizza crust, the bread, and the pastries that I used to make that had water in them. Nothing really compares, so I guess the water thing is true. Although, my Pizza Dough recipe is pretty darn close.
When we first moved there, we had a brownstone apartment in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was $1750 a month, no air conditioner, no dishwasher the kitchen was basically like a dorm room’s kitchen. The first day we hooked up a water filter to the kitchen sink, it was clogged and unusable after about 30 minutes! Lol, so yeah, NYC water has a lot of minerals in it. This Pizza Dough is what I used to make in Brooklyn, and it’s amazing. Quick and easy to make, it’s foolproof and actually a lot of fun to make.
Good pizza requires a very high temperature, the first NYC pizzeria, Lombardi’s, still uses a coal-fired oven that cooks the pizza at 900F (480C), most of us don’t have that luxury, luckily a regular home oven works just fine. I have a cast iron pizza ‘stone’ for my oven, although the ceramic pizza stones work great as well and they’re easy to find and affordable.
The oven in your home needs to be at its highest temperature, probably 500F-550F and you need to preheat it for about 30 minutes to ensure the pizza stone is hot enough. At this temperature, the pizza cooks in about 9-10 minutes, depending on how thin you roll the dough. It takes a little practice to roll the dough and then stretch it on the back of your hands, but it’s fun and if you tear the dough, you can just pinch it back together before baking and it’ll be just fine.
There seems like a lot of steps to this, but each step is really easy and doesn’t take much time at all. In the end, this is way better than any of the fast-food chain pizzas, you’ll never order pizza out again once you learn how to make it yourself.
- Pizza Stone
- Pizza Paddle
- Stand Mixer with Hook Attachment (optional)
- 1 ½ Cups Warm Water
- 1 Packet Fast Rise Yeast (¼ Ounce)
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
- 4 Cups Bread Flour
- ¼ Cups Olive Oil
- 2 Teaspoons Salt
- Cornmeal (this helps the pizza slide off of the paddle and onto the pizza stone)
-Combine the yeast, warm water, and sugar, stir and let sit for one minute, it should bubble slightly
-Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly
-If using a stand mixer, all of that can be done in the machine using the hook attachment, set the machine on low and knead the dough for 3 minutes.
-By hand, mix the dough in a bowl, then turn the dough out onto a sturdy (clean) board or counter that’s been lightly floured. The dough is a little sticky, so flour the top of the dough as well and knead for 3 minutes, add additional flour to the board as needed.
-Add a drizzle of olive oil to a clean bowl
-Form the dough into a nice round ball (round on top, pinch the bottom together) roll the dough in the oil and place the pinched side down, with the nice round part on top
-Let the dough rise for 30 minutes, it should double in size. (you can make the sauce while waiting)
-Divide the dough into 4 equal parts, each dough ball will make one 12-inch pizza
-Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it out with a rolling pin. Move the dough around frequently to ensure it’s not sticking.
-Once it’s rolled out to about a 10-inch circle, pick the dough up and place it on the back side of your hands, gently stretch the dough until it is thin enough to where you can just barely see the light coming through.
-Sprinkle cornmeal onto the paddle, place the dough on the paddle
My Pizza Sauce is a very simple 3 ingredient recipe and takes about 1 minute to make. Its flavor is very simple and needs to be used sparingly so the finished pizza isn’t soggy, for an individual 12-inch pizza, I only use 3 tablespoons. The only requirement is that the type of tomato must be the Italian variety, San Marzano. This tomato has a strong, sweet flavor with very few seeds.
- 2 Cups San Marzano Tomatoes, Whole, Peeled
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Teaspoons Olive Oil
-Place all the ingredients into a food processor and puree.
The Margherita Pizza is a thin crust pizza with San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and fresh basil. Red, white and green, it’s the colors are the same as the Italian flag and it is simple, fresh and just about perfect. The Margherita Pizza got its name in 1889 when a local pizzaiolo made the Queen of Italy (Margherita of Savoy) a special pizza named in her honor. However, from what I’ve read about this pizzas history, they had been making this same type of pizza since the 1790’s only it was called the ‘Marinara Pizza’.
I think this should be the first pizza you learn how to make. Once you’ve made this one, all the other flavors and varieties will be easy.
- 1 12-inch Pizza Dough
- 3 Tablespoons Pizza Sauce
- 4-6 Ounces Fresh Mozzarella, Whole, Not Shredded
- 6-8 Fresh Basil Leaves
-Preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500F (at least 30 minutes in advance)
-Roll out the dough, place it on a paddle with cornmeal
-Place 3 tablespoons Pizza Sauce on the dough and spread it evenly
-Tear the mozzarella and place the crumbles around the top of the pizza
-Place in the oven on the pizza stone, bake for about 9-10 minutes until the underside of the pizza is nicely browned and the cheese is melted
-Use the paddle to remove the pizza from the stone, place the pizza on a cutting board
-Tear the fresh basil and sprinkle over the top of the pizza