Only tomato sauce and oregano are used on Nancy Silverton’s excellent Neapolitan-style pizza. Sponge, or flour allowed to ferment with a pinch of yeast, is the first step in Silverton’s pizza dough method. Bread flour, rye flour, wheat germ, and either barley malt or honey make up Silverton’s easy-to-work-with dough, which also benefits from the baker-exclusive practise of calculating components by weight rather than volume. It stretches easily and bakes well on a hot pizza stone, attaining the perfect structure she sought.
- 22 ounces warm tap water (2 cups, 6 ounces)
- 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) compressed yeast or 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 26 ounces unbleached bread flour, plus more as needed
- 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) dark rye flour or medium rye flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons wheat germ
- 1 1/2 teaspoons barley malt or mild-flavored honey, such as clover or wildflower
- 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) kosher salt
- Olive oil, grapeseed oil, or another neutral flavored oil, such as canola oil, for greasing the bowl
- The sponge can dissolve yeast in 15 ounces of water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix in 13 ounces of all-purpose flour, rye flour, and wheat germ. Combine all of the components by stirring with a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap, then use kitchen twine or another sheet of plastic wrap to cover the bowl’s edges tightly. In a perfect world, the dough should rest at room temperature (between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit) for 1 1/2 hours.
- Remove the lid and stir in the remaining 7 ounces of water, 13 ounces of bread flour, and barley malt. Insert the dough hook into the mixer, set the bowl on the mixer stand, and mix the dough on the lowest speed for 2 minutes. After adding the salt, continue mixing for another 6-8 minutes on medium speed or until the dough pulls away from the edges of the bowl. Do not expect the dough to hurt so much that it cleans the basin. If the dough is too sticky and not pulling away from the sides of the bowl, add a small handful of flour. While the dough is mixed, prepare a big bowl that can accommodate it when it has doubled in size by brushing it lightly with olive oil. Turn the dough out of the mixer into the greased bowl. Just like before, I’ll be wrapping the bowl. Leave the dough out for 45 minutes at room temperature. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and work as directed. As if the circle had four sides, fold the dough’s outer borders toward the middle. The dough should be flipped and returned to the bowl with the folded side facing down. Wrap the bowl in plastic wrap and let it sit for 45 minutes.
- Turn the dough onto the floured board and dust it with flour. Cut the dough into six pieces using a scale, each of which should weigh around 7 ounces. Fold the dough over on itself gently. The dough should rest for 5 minutes after being shaped into rounds, so cover them with a clean dishtowel.
- Using lightly floured hands, gather each dough round into a tight ball. Place the dough discs on a baking sheet well-dusted with flour. The dough needs to prove, or rise, at room temperature for 1 hour, so cover the baking sheet with the dish towel and set it back out. (You may also just let the dough rise on the counter.)
- To make the pizzas: Pick the pizza(s) of your choice and prepare the ingredients.
- Take off the oven racks and set a pizza stone on the cold oven floor. The stone will absorb the heat and disperse it evenly, leading to a perfectly crisp crust. Buy a quality stone that will not crack from excessive heat. Use the back of a heavy baking prep 15 sheets if you have to.
- For at least an hour, get the oven up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (or as high as it can go) and place the stone there.
- Put together a pizza station with the olive oil, kosher salt, and other items needed to cook the pizzas you’ve decided on.
- Prepare a small bowl of flour for your kitchen counter as a dusting agent.
- Prepare a bowl of semolina to dust your pizza peel before transferring it to the oven. A pizza peel is a tool with a long handle and a big, flat metal or wood surface to transfer pizzas to and from the range.
- After the dough has rested, flour your work area thoroughly and set one dough round in the middle. Dust the dough lightly with flour. (If you haven’t already, right about now, you’ll want to pour yourself a glass of wine.)
- Using your hands as though you were tapping on piano keys, gently press the middle of the dough to flatten it somewhat, leaving a 1-inch rim intact.
- To shape a ball out of the dough, pick it up, close your fists around it, and place the top edge on your fists, so the round stretches downward on the backs of your hands, away from them.
- So that it keeps expanding downward into a circle, move the dough circle around your fists like the hands of a clock.
- The dough is ready to be laid out on the floured surface when it has doubled in size and measures about 10 inches in diameter.
- Olive oil and kosher salt should be used to finish the dough’s crust.
- Prepare the pizza according to your selected recipe, remembering to leave a border of at least 1 inch that does not include sauce or toppings.
- Sprinkle semolina on a pizza peel, then with one swift motion, slip the peel under the pie. One firm push of the peel is preferable to multiple timid ones because it reduces the likelihood of tearing or misshaping the dough. If the pizza has been deformed on the peel, reshape it. Please give it a light shake to ascertain whether or not the dough will release quickly from the peel when baked. If it is clinging to the peel, delicately raise one side of the dough and add some more semolina under it. Do this from a couple of angles until the semolina is under the entire crust.
- Open the oven door and slide the dough onto the prepared pizza stone. Once more, with a definite motion, bring the peel toward you to abandon the pizza on the rock.
- Put the pizza in the oven for 8 to 12 minutes, until the crust is golden and the cornice, or rim, is crisp and blistered. Your oven’s strength may affect the required cooking time.
- While the pizza is in the oven, clear a space on a clean, dry cutting board or lay an aluminium pizza circle on the surface to put the baked pizza on.
- To serve, slide the peel under the pizza’s crust, take it out of the oven, and set it on a cutting board or a platter.
- Go out your rolling pizza cutter and get to slicing. At the pizzeria, we cut them into four wedges, but when we have parties, we usually cut them into six or eight so that everyone can have a piece while it’s still hot.
- If you’re hungry, whip up some more pizza.
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