It’s been quite an eventful day and I’m glad that dinner didn’t take much time at all. Better yet, it was also my Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge for this week! The challenge is Peter Reinhart’s recipe for Pizza Napoletana (which you can get from his book below, starting on page 207-212).
This Pizza Napoletana dough recipe is so simple, it restored my confidence in bread baking after taking a couple of months off. Another reason why I loved making this recipe is because I can make it in advance and freeze it to make later. This is definitely my favorite pizza dough recipe thus far and I plan on stocking my freezer with this dough for easy homemade pizzas.
Neapolitan style pizza is essentially a very thin, flat pizza with little toppings. From the pictures of my pizza, it looks like the crust is thick but note that it’s only the edges as they ballooned a bit while baking. When cut into, the pizza is very crispy, thin and the addition of olive oil in the dough gives a very buttery flavor. These pizzas are best when they’re not overloaded with toppings – less is more!
Normally I don’t post the recipes for the BBA challenges, but I think it would be a dis-service if I didn’t this time. I mean, it’s only 5 ingredients and I know that folks will benefit from this! To share it further, I’ve also submitted this recipe to Yeastspotting…which is a great site for other ‘breadheads’ who love their carbs!
Note – I didn’t follow the recipe exactly in terms of how the pizza was baked. I baked my pizza in a baking sheet and it worked perfectly for me. I used 1/4 of the dough recipe to make one large individual pizza, as seen in the picture. For my pizza toppings, I used homemade pesto, crumbled fresh mozzarella cheese and diced roma tomatoes.
4 1/2 cups (20.25 ounces) unbleached high-gluten, bread, or all-purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 (.44 ounce) teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon (.11 ounce) instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil (optional)
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) water, ice cold (40°F)
Semolina flour OR cornmeal for dusting
* Peter’s recipe notes the olive (or vegetable oil) is optional. I used olive oil when I prepared the recipe and it adds a great flavor and moisture to the dough,
Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. On low speed with the paddle attachment, slowly stir in the oil (if using) and water until fully combined.
Once the ingredients are combined, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes until the dough becomes smooth and sticky. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl.
At this point, you can divide the dough as you wish. Form the dough into a ball, mist with cooking spray, thoroughly wrap in plastic and place in a freezer storage bag. About 2 hours prior to making a pizza, remove the frozen dough from the freezer and let it rest on your kitchen counter to come up to room temperature.
At least 45 minutes before baking your pizza, preheat the oven as high as it goes. Some home ovens go as high as 500-550. Crank it up and let it get nice and hot.
When you’re ready to prepare pizza and the dough has come to room temperature, sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Prepare a sheet pan by sprinkling cornmeal on the bottom to prevent the dough from sticking.
Form your pizza crust on the prepared sheet pan. Place your dough on the pan and spread out in a freeform style if you wish. If the dough is too sticky to handle, lightly flour your hands before forming into your crust. When the dough is stretched out as you’d like, let the fun begin and top it!
With this dough, it’s best not to overload it with toppings. It’s recommended to use up to 3-4 toppings so the crust doesn’t get too soggy. Feel free to use your choice of sauce, cheese and toppings. It might help to think, ‘less is more’, as you top your pizza.
After topping your pizza, place the pizza and baking sheet in your preheated oven. Bake the pizza for 5-8 minutes until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown.
Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3 to 5 minutes before slicing and serving, to allow the cheese to set slightly.
Makes six 6-ounce pizza crusts.