Monday, March 7, 2011

Pizza Margherita

All topped and ready to bake

I am a pizza purist. Give me a thin crust margherita pizza, topped with a few fresh, quality ingredients over a pepperoni or meat lovers pizza any day.I like to think that I have a love for pizza in my blood since my great grandfather sailed to Ellis island straight from Naples, the birthplace of could also be that like any red blooded American I enjoy gooey, melty cheese atop a yummy, hot, fresh from the oven crust ;)
I have been trying to recreate a authentic,restaurant quality margherita pizza at home for awhile now. So far this is what I have come up with. Not perfect but pretty darn good. Of course it's hard to create a restaurant style pizza without the restaurants brick oven!
It is important when making a margherita pizza to try to stick with good quality ingredients,since there are not many toppings on the pizza you want each ingredient to shine.
Now depending on your taste you could just skip the sauce altogether and sprinkle with fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes are not in season right now so I chose to use canned (I actually would rather use canned tomatoes over fresh anyways )

2 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 can whole tomatoes (Muir glen and Pomi are both good brands)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Saute two cloves garlic in a pan with olive oil on medium heat, sprinkle with salt and pepper.Add can of whole tomatoes (squeeze the tomatoes with your hands as you add them) and sugar.Simmer for 20 minutes.

2pkgs (5 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
2 teaspoons malt syrup or sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon of sea salt
5 cups bread flour, plus extra as needed
Semolina flour (for the pizza stone or baking pan)

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer, and let stand until foamy (about 5 minutes). Add the sugar, oil, flour and salt. Knead until soft, smooth and elastic (about 8-10 minutes). Add up to one cup of flour while kneading until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft free spot until it rises in bulk (about 1 1/2 - 2 hours). For a more flavorful crust, make the dough up to this point, punch it down, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. If your refrigerate the dough overnight let the dough come to room temperature before shaping. Place a pizza stone in a 500 degree oven for at least 30 minutes before baking. Turn the dough out onto a oiled surface and divide in half. Gently shape each half into a loose ball, cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll or shape dough into a round about 14 inches in diameter (as thin as you would like).
now to the fun part.

fresh mozzarella  packed in liquid (as much as you like)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
 grated black pepper
10 fresh basil leaves , sliced thinly
2 tablespoons olive oil
Spread a thin layer of sauce atop crust (you will probably end up with leftover sauce), sprinkle with parmesan, basil, salt and pepper and top with the fresh mozzarella. I like to use the fresh mozzarella balls packed in liquid . Squeeze the mozzarella  through your fingers and sprinkle on top. Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle your pizza stone or pan with about 1/2 cup semolina flour. If you are using a pizza stone you will need to sprinkle semolina on a bakers peel or onto a inverted sheet pan to transfer the pizza to the pizza stone.
This is the part where I cry because I do not own a pizza stone!! If you have one use it, better yet if your really lucky use a brick oven;) bake for 10-15 minutes at 500 degrees. I used a pizza pan for this and it did work but a pizza stone would be best.

hot from the oven!

With love,

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