Making this traditional pizza home is a breeze, provided you use high-quality ingredients. Miriam Weiskind’s savoury dough is the perfect, make-ahead pizza base, coming together with careful kneading before slowly rising in the refrigerator for one and up to five days. The fresh basil and raw sauce perfectly complement the tangy mozzarella.
- 3 ½ cups (550 grams) bread flour (preferably King Arthur), plus more for kneading and shaping the dough
- ¾ teaspoon (3 grams) active dry yeast
- 1 ½ cups cold water, preferably filtered (not distilled)
- 1 ½ teaspoons (10 grams) fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon Italian or Californian extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, such as Bianco diNapoli
- Pinch of dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons water, or as needed
- 12 ounces fresh mozzarella, halved then cut into ¼-inch thick slices
- Semolina flour (or half bread flour and half finely ground cornmeal), for work surface
- Grated Pecorino Romano
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 16 large fresh basil leaves (about 15 large)
- In a large bowl, combine the flour and yeast to make the dough. Make a mound in the basin’s centre out of the flour mixture. Put the water in the centre of the flour mountain in the bowl. Gently knock the flour off the pile and into the water while you stir. In other words, it should start growing. If the dough doesn’t come together, add more water by the teaspoonful and work it with your hands until it forms a rough ball. To activate the gluten in the flour, the dough must rest for 20 minutes with the bowl covered.
- You can season the dough by sprinkling salt on top. After around 4 minutes, the dough should no longer feel grainy when you press into it softly and gently squeeze and knead it. After adding the oil and a little dusting of flour, you should scrape the dough and knead it for about 4 minutes or until the oil is absorbed. After 2 minutes of smoothing, place the ball on a flat surface.
- For about 5 minutes, after dusting the dough with flour, you should stretch, fold, and knead it until it is very smooth. Wrap in a dish towel and set aside to cool for 5 minutes. When you pull a piece of dough that doesn’t break but instead forms a transparent windowpane, you know the dough is ready.
- Split the dough into quarters and separate the pieces with a bench scraper or big knife. Roll them out into smooth balls by kneading and pinching the bottoms together. Slightly grease a pint-sized plastic jar and place each round inside. Put in the fridge overnight covered (or up to 5 days).
- To prepare pizzas, Let the dough sit at room temperature for an hour after taking it out of the fridge. In the meantime, position a rack in the oven so that it is four inches from the heat source (the top or bottom of the range, depending on what type of oven you have). To make pizza, use a pizza steel, pizza stone, or rimless or upside-down baking sheet on the rack. Let the oven heat up for 45 minutes at 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Sauce preparation can be done in the meanwhile. The tomatoes should be poured into a big bowl. To slowly reduce the tomatoes, use an immersion blender (you can also do this with your hands). To thin the sauce, add some water (up to 2 tablespoons) and a pinch of oregano. Place the sliced mozzarella in a basin lined with paper towels to drain the extra moisture from the cheese.
- When the oven is fully preheated, begin with building your pizzas. Get a bowl and put some semolina in it. Drop one dough ball, then rotate it around the bowl to coat it. Sprinkle a work surface with semolina and stretch the dough round into a 10- to 12-inch round. Sprinkle semolina flour on a pizza peel or rimless baking sheet and place the dough on top. Spread about six tablespoons of the sauce on top, making ever-widening circles with the back of the spoon until you’ve covered the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Spread oil on top, sprinkle with some Pecorino and add 3 ounces of mozzarella.
- Tilt the peel slightly and give the pizza a gentle shake to remove it. Take time as you transfer the pizza from the peel to the stone. It takes around 6 to 8 minutes to get a golden crust in the oven, and you should turn the pizza over halfway through baking. Take the pizza out of the range and immediately slice four basil leaves very thinly with scissors and arrange them on top. Slice the pizza and serve right away. Make another three pizzas using the leftover dough, sauce, and toppings.
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