Margherita pizza Napoletana
Making dough at home requires some planning, as it needs a lot of time to rest. Plan ahead and you'll be rewarded with soft, crunchy, perfect dough. The recipe below requires the use of a standard mixer, but can just as easily be done by hand — I'm sure that's how the first pizzalos did it.
MAKES 2 SERVINGS
¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
1 ½ cups warm water (100 to 105 degrees F)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups 00 flour or all-purpose flour
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let proof for 10 minutes. If the yeast has not dissolved into a soft, frothy paste in that time, hunt down a fresh batch and repeat. Stir in the olive oil and salt.
In the bowl of a standard mixer with a dough hook, combine the flour and yeast mixture on low speed for about 2 minutes, or until the dough is shaggy and most of the water has been absorbed. Knead on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and looks somewhat smooth. (You can also do this by hand, it'll just take a little longer).
Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel and let rest for five minutes. Then knead on medium-low speed for an additional 10 minutes, or until the dough is very smooth, soft and warm to the touch.
Lightly coat a large bowl with olive oil and transfer the dough into the bowl, then turn the dough so that both sides are lightly coated in oil, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next day punch down the dough with your fist, then fold over the sides and turn the dough over in the bowl. Recover and return to the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a floured work surface. Divide it into four equal pieces. One at a time, cup the pieces in your hands and tuck under the sides until you have formed a smooth ball. Place on a floured work surface and cover with a damp cloth. Let these proof for 1½ to 2 hours, or until they double in volume. If it starts to dry out and form a skin, spray it with a little water. Then, it should be ready to go.
Prepare your oven by placing a pizza stone on the lowest rack and preheating it to its maximum temperature (which is typically between 500 and 550 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least 30 minutes.
To shape the ball of dough into a pizza, place it on a floured work surface. Using the tips of your fingers, pat down the ball, flattening it into a disk. Place the palm of one hand in the center of the dough and gently, but firmly press down. At the same time, with the other hand, pull the dough outward while rotating it clockwise to form a flat circle with slightly raised edges. If the dough feels resistant when stretching, set it aside and cover for a bit to let the gluten relax.
Continue to stretch the dough until it's 10 to 12 inches in diameter. Then place on a well-floured pizza peel and dress with toppings. The pizza must then go into the oven immediately to prevent the dough from getting soggy from the toppings.
Slide off the pizza peel into the oven and bake for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is crisp and golden brown around the edges and the top is bubbling. Using the peel, remove from the oven, drizzle with a little olive oil, let cool and enjoy!