Neapolitan Pizza


1 env dried yeast - (2 ½ tspns)
1 cup warm water
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
teaspoon salt
cup warm water


In a 2-cup glass measure, with a table fork, dissolve the yeast in the 1 cup of warm water. Stir in 1/2 cup of the flour, cover with a clean dish towel, and let it stand until the mixture foams up to about double - to 2 cups - about 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine 3 1/2 cups of the flour with the salt. Stir in the yeast mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of warm water. Stir until the dough masses together. Gather the dough into a ball and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead, folding and turning the dough onto itself, then pushing it away from you with the heel of your hand, about 10 to 12 minutes, adding, little by little, just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. Be careful not to add too much flour or too much at one time. When you have fmished, the dough should not stick to the board; it should be smooth, silken, slightly damp on the surfa
While the dough is rising, and at least 30 minutes before baking, place an oven rack on the lowest level, preferably holding a pizza stone, and preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Punch down the dough and divide into 4 parts. Alternately, if you intend to use only a portion of the dough immediately, form each fourth into a smooth ball and let those to be used immediately rise on a floured board, a couple of inches apart, covered with a dish towel. Refrigerate or freeze the remaining balls in plastic bags.
To form the dough into a pizza, flatten the ball of dough into a thick disk. On a lightly floured board, rotating the disk as you go, flatten the center of the pizza with your fingertips or heel of your hand. When a ridge of dough starts appearing on the perimeter of the disk, lift the dough up with both hands, and holding on to the ridge, let gravity and the weight of the dough stretch the circle. Keep turning the dough to get a relatively even 10-inch circle. Keep pulling the ridge slightly so the circle gets larger. Be careful not to make the center too thin or the ridge more than 1/2-inch deep. At some point the pizza will become too flimsy to handle. Now spread the formed pizza dough onto a large baking sheet or wooden peel that has been lightly dusted with flour.
Top as desired using either recipe, Pizza Alla Marinara or Pizza Margherita.
Bake for 6 to 8 minutes depending on your oven and on how well done you like pizza. The edge should be tinged with brown.
Note: Simple herb and olive oil toppings require less cooking time than tomato or other heavier, moister toppings.
This recipe yields four 9- to 10-inch pizza crusts.
Comments: You can't make the best pizza at home, but you can make very, very good pizza, and whatever it may objectively lack is made up for by the pleasure and satisfaction of producing it yourself. It's easy, but it takes practice, particularly the stretching of the dough. At first, you won't be able to make an even circle. After a while, you may still form only amoeba-shaped pies. It doesn't matter. What counts is the taste of the dough and the finesse of the topping. Neapolitans don't burden their pizzas with heavy toppings. For a pizza Margherita (see recipe), still the most popular, the tomatoes are barely cooked, if cooked at all; the mozzarella is applied sparingly, and there's no more than a torn leaf or two of basil. Pizza Alla Marinara (see recipe), the simplest and oldest type, is
Yield: 4 crusts





12.0 servings


Friday, February 12, 2010 - 10:37pm



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