Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking: Basic Pizza

I'm cooking my to Italy this year, and I couldn't help coming back again and again to this classic, this essential Italian cookbook by Marcella Hazan. Of course, I had to try her recipe for pizza. 

I've been making homemade pizza crust for over thirty years, and I've always felt like I had a great deal of success with my go-to recipe. But let's try Hazan, shall we?

Basic Pizza Dough

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
3 1/4 cups flour
Extra virgin olive oil, about 4 tsp.
1/2 T. salt

1. Dissolve the yeast completely in a large bowl by stirring it into 1/4 cup lukewarm water. When dissolved, in 10 minutes or less, add 1 cup flour. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. As you continue to stir, gradually add 3 tsp. olive oil, 1/2 T. salt, 1/4 c. lukewarm water, and 1 c. more flour. When adding flour and water for the last time, hold back some of both and add only as much as you need to make the dough soft, but not too sticky.

2. Slap the dough down very hard against the work counter several times until it is stretched out to a length of about 10 inches. Reach for the far end of the dough, fold it a short distance toward you, push it away with the heel of your palm, flexing your wrist, fold it, and push it away again, gradually rolling it up and bringing it close to you. Rotate the dough a one-quarter turn, pick it up and slap it down hard, repeating the entire previous operation. Give it another one-quarter turn in the same direction and repeat the procedure for about 10 minutes. Pat the kneaded dough into a round shape. 

3. Line a bowl with 1 tsp. olive oil, put in the dough, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm corner until the dough has doubled in size, about 3 hours.

4. At least 30 minutes before you are ready to bake, put the stone in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

5. Sprinkle the baker's peel with cornmeal. Divide the risen dough in half. Roll out the dough into a thick disk. Stretch the dough by twirling it on both of your upraised fists, bouncing it from time to time into the air to turn it. When it is the desired shape, put the circle of dough on the peel.

6. Put the topping of your choice on the dough. Jerk the peel away sharply, onto the preheated stone. Bake for 20 minutes until the dough becomes a light golden brown. As soon as it is done, drizzle lightly with olive oil. 

Epicurious did a wonderful post on 16 Things Marcella Hazan Taught Us About Cooking.

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  1. You know you make that sound so easy to do but I know I would make a mess of it and drop it on the floor where I would have to fight with the dog to retrieve it

  2. I love making homemade pizza.

  3. Homemade pizza is too adventurous for me to make but it looks delicious! What a fabulous treat.

  4. Making pizza from scratch! I didn't know it could be done. This makes it sound so easy.
    Happy WW!

  5. And how did Marcella's recipe stack up to your favourite tried and true method?

    1. It was a delicious crust. My old crust included sugar, and it tastes too sweet.

  6. What do you do with the third cup of flour? The ingredients say 3-1/4 cups flour, but the directions use only 2 cups.

    1. "When adding flour and water for the last time, hold back some of both and add only as much as you need to make the dough soft, but not too sticky." This is when you add the rest of the flour and water.

    2. Oh, now that you've pointed that out, it makes sense. Thank you so much for the fast answer! I'll be trying this for the first time tomorrow. Looking forward to the results.

  7. I've made this pizza crust before, it was great. It turns out nice and crispy, something I did think was possibly without a pizza oven.


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