Tips for a successful pizza!
Take the dough out of the refrigerator an hour before you want to use it. Form it into a ball by placing it on a work board, and cupping your hands around it, use a circular motion and the tension formed by rolling on the work surface to form the ball. Transfer it to a lightly floured surface, dust the top with flour and cover with a towel. Let it rest for an hour to relax the gluten. Preheat your oven with a pizza stone to 450 degrees. Generously sprinkle a flat pan or pizza peel with semolina and set aside. You will be assembling the pizza on this.
Generously flour a work surface and dust the top of the dough ball with flour. To form the pizza you can either roll it briefly with a rolling pin, or stretch it by hand, or a combination of both. I recommend by hand as this will teach you how to handle the dough. Begin by dimpling the dough with your fingertips, leaving about an inch at the edge for the crust. Pick up the dough and using your fists, start from the middle and gently stretch the dough, working outward, to an even thinness. Don’t worry about the shape, it will look beautiful when you take it out of the oven.
Transfer to your semolina sprinkled pan. While you are assembling the pizza, check a few times that the dough isn’t sticking to the pan by gently wiggling it. The pizza dough should slide readily on the semolina. If you have a sticky spot, just lift the dough a bit and toss some more semolina under the sticky spot.
A good base for the bottom of the pizza is a mixture of finely minced garlic in some good olive oil slathered on. Top your pizza with whatever makes you happy, but resist “loading” the pizza, a light touch with the toppings is best.
Slide your pie onto the preheated stone in the oven and bake, rotating for even brownness until desired doneness. You can use a pizza peel or metal spatula to lift the pie a bit and check the color of the bottom to help guide you. This should take about 15-20 minutes. However, pay more attention to how the pie looks while it’s baking, rather than the time. All ovens are different and baking times are merely guidelines in many cases, nothing more.
Slide finished pizza onto a cutting board, brush the crust with olive oil, slice it up and get to it!
Happy pizza making!
- Pick the leaves from: 1 bunch of basil, to yield about 1 lightly packed cup
- In a mortar and pestle, pound to a paste: 1 garlic clove, peeled with a pinch of salt
- And continue to pound: 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
- Add: 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
Durum pasta always pairs well with tomato based sauces, so anything from marinara to puttanesca sauce would be perfect. We made a delicious pasta the other night when we were making the sausage:
Bronze-Cut Gemelli with Spicy Calabrian Sausages and Heirloom Tomato Sauce
Chop and saute one small onion in a few tablespoons of olive oil until soft and brown. Add two cloves of chopped garlic.
Uncase and crumble 3-4 sausages in large pinches into the pan and cook over medium heat until golden brown.
Add 1 1/2 cups heirloom tomato sauce into the pan and bring to a simmer.
Boil 1 pound of pasta as described above. Drain and add into the sauce and toss. Add a handful of torn basil leaves and garnish with grated parmesan if desired. Serve immediately.