There is something about the crust of Roman or Neapolitan pizza that is absolutely amazing. It is at once crispy and chewy, with just the right amount of salt. We’ve been trying to perfect that pizza for the last three years. We are getting closer, but still have yet to master it. One thing that definitely makes a difference is the flour. We have used ordinary all-purpose, bread flour, unbleached flour, and two types of 00 flour. This last flour has by far produced the best results.
I say that we have been trying to perfect the pizza, but really, I have been trying to get my husband to perfect the pizza. Until last night, he has always been the pizza maker in the family. He might well still have been the family pizza maker after I had to throw my first batch of pizza dough down the garbage disposal. But I didn’t give up. My second batch was slightly dry but my third batch was perfect.
Pizza can be relatively easy to make. The key, as with cooking any true Italian food, is using the best ingredients that you can find. In this case, I cheated a bit because I didn’t have hours to let the dough rise (read: didn’t plan ahead). I used quick rising yeast and only let the dough settle for about a half an hour before we started working with it. I think given the same flour, real yeast, and the appropriate rise time, our pizza could be really close to authentic. At least, as close as we can get without a wood fired oven.
Technically, when making pizza dough, you really should work by weight. I have a digital scale and hate to admit that I am totally afraid to use it. I can’t explain it. One day, I think I’ll overcome my fear of weighing things and my cooking will improve. Until then, I’m sticking with my measuring cups. I ended up using a simple recipe that comes with the Emile Henry pizza stone. Rather than mixing and kneading the dough by hand, I let my KitchenAid do the work. I threw everything into the bowl and turned on the mixer (with the bread hook attachment) for 10 minutes, then let the dough rest under a towel for 20 minutes. Pizza dough done.
We like to have a variety of toppings available when we make pizza so that the kids can make multiple pies. We start each pie with either olive oil or Pomi tomato sauce. Last night’s selection of toppings included Italian sausage, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, sliced green and Kalamata olives, mushrooms, asparagus (slightly sautéed), fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and fresh rosemary.
Once topped, the pizza goes into a 500° oven on a pizza stone (we have tried several, and like these the best) and bakes until brown around the edges. We tend to make small pizzas so that everyone can create different combinations of toppings. And we never seem to sit on pizza night. The pizza never makes it to the table.