Pizza Margherita
Source: Cook's Illustrated
We’ve been making pizza at home for many years, but we were never entirely happy with any of the doughs we made. Most bake up too thick, with a consistency more like bread than a thin, NY-style pizza crust. That is, until this one. Now all of our pizzas use this dough.

This recipe requires a pizza stone and a peel. Convection ovens will produce a lighter, crispier pizza, and you will need to reduce the overall cooking time by a minute or two. You can shape the second dough round while the first pizza bakes, but don't add toppings until just before baking. You can let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator if you like; place the dough balls on a floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray. If using mozzarella packed in brine, pat the cheese cubes dry before placing them on the pizza.

Makes two 12-inch pizzas.

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 1½ t instant yeast (i.e. "rapid rise")
  • 1 c water, room temperature
  • 1¾ c unbleached all-purpose flour (8¾ oz), plus extra for dusting work surface and peel
  • 1 c cake flour (4oz)
  • 1½ t table salt
  • 2 t sugar
Topping:
  • 1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes
  • ½ t sugar
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • ¼ c chopped fresh basil
  • Table salt
  • 8oz mozzarella cheese (see note above)
  • 2 t extra virgin olive oil
Procedure

Prepare Dough

  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, set pizza stone on oven rack, and heat ove to 500 dgrees
  2. In liquid measuring cup, whisk yeast into water to dissolve
  3. In food processor fitted with metal blade, process flours, salt and sugat until combined, aboud 5 seconds
  4. With machine running, slowly add liquid through feed tube; continue to process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl, 1½ to 2 minutes. (If after 1 minute dough is sticky and clings to blade, add 1 to 2 T all purpose flour and continue processing. If dough appears dry and crumbly, add 1 to 2 T water and process until dough forms ball.)
  5. Divide dough in half and shape into smooth, tight balls
  6. Place on floured counter or baking sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray and let rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour
Prepare Topping
  1. In clean bowl of food processor, process tomatoes until crushed, two or three 1-second pulses
  2. Transfer tomatoes to fine-mesh strainer set over bowl and let drain at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to release liquids
  3. Just before shaping pizza rounds, combine drained tomatoes, sugar, garlic (if using), 1 T basil, and ¼ t salt in bowl.
Shape and Cook Pizza
  1. When dough balls have doubled in size, dust dough liberally with flour and transfer balls to well-floured work surface.
  2. Press one ball into 8-inch disk. Using flattened palms, gently stretch disk into 12-inch circle, working along outer edge and giving disk quarter turns.
  3. Lightly flour pizza peel; lift edges of dough round to brush off any excess flour, then transfer dough to peel.
  4. Spread thin layer of tomato topping (about ½ cup) over dough with rubber spatula, leaving ½ inch border around edge.
  5. Slide onto stone and bake until crust begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove pizza from oven with peel, close oven door, and top pizza with half of cheese chunks, spaced evenly apart.
  7. Return pizza to stone and continue cooking until cheese is just melted, 4 to 5 minutes more.
  8. Transfer to cutting board; sprinkle with half of remaining basil, 1 t olive oil, and pinch salt. Slice and serve immediately.
  9. Repeat step 3 to shape, top, and bake second pizza.
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