Last month I saw some really tasty croissants photos that made me want to join to the bread baking community Fresh from the Oven. So this is my first Fresh from the Oven challenge. This month's challenge is hosted by Lauren from Coffee Muffins who chose a recipe for Pizza Napoletana from Peter Reinhart's “The Bread Baker's Apprentice”.
This recipe is quite different than the one we usually make. Firstly I thought there is too much oil and water and quite little yeast in it. But considering that the recipe should be made over two days the yeast quantity is just fine. As for the water-oil part – I needed to add some more flour, but every flour has a different ability to absorb water depending on the producer, the wheat quality and the grinding mode.
However, because of the oil the dough was very elastic and easy to work with. And the crust was pleasant and crunchy.
As I'm not used to measure the ingredients in cups and ounces I've written the quantities in grams (in the brackets).
Pizza Napoletana Recipe:
Serves 6 9-12 inch pizzas
- 4 1/2 cups or 20.25 ounces of unbleached high-gluten bread flour (570 gr);
- 1 3/4 teaspoons or 0.44 ounces of salt (12 gr);
- 1 teaspoon or 0.11 ounces of instant yeast (if using active dry yeast you will need to increase this by 25%) (3gr);
- 1/4 cup or 2 ounces of olive or vegetable oil, optional (56 gr);
- 1 3/4 cups or 14 ounces of ice cold water (396 gr).
While you don't need any special equipment for this recipe (I don't have any of the following) a pizza stone and peel may help with the final outcome. Oh and if you have an electric mixer with dough attachment that would be good - but if you don't you can do it the old fashioned way.
Stir together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a large bowl. With a large wooden spoon stir in the oil and water until all the flour is absorbed.
To do by hand, you need to stir with one hand and turn the bowl in the opposite direction with your other hand. You need to do this for 5 to 7 minutes, occasionally changing the direction as to really help develop the gluten. This method of mixing is actually quite a difficult task, sort of like rubbing your tummy while tapping your head, but as long as you are mixing the dough it should work out ok.
To do in a mixer, make sure you are using the dough hook attachment and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes.
Either way you mix you should end up with a smooth dough which is a little sticky. It should clear the sides of the bowl but not the bottom. If it isn't clearing the sides then add a little more flour and mix again. If it clears the bottom then add a couple of drops of water, and mix again. The finished dough should be springy, elastic and sticky but not tacky. At this stage my dough was quite tacky so I added 60 more grams of flour and then it was ok.
Now prepare a sheet pan with baking parchment and spray oil. Flour your counter and remove the dough on to the counter. Using a metal dough scraper (or your hands) create 6 equals sized pieces of dough. Flour your hands and shape each into a ball, if your hands stick add more flour and try again. Place each ball onto your sheet pan, spray each piece of dough with oil. Once all pieces of dough are on the tray, enclose it in a food-grade bag and pop it into the fridge. I found it easier to place the whole piece of dough into a well closed plastic bowl and then - into the fridge. I divided it the next day just before forming it.
The next day a couple of hours before you want to cook them remove the dough from the fridge. Dust your counter with flour (and your hands) then spray oil on top. Place each ball on the counter and then gently press each into a flat disc about 1/2 inch thick. Top each with a little flour and oil and cover with a clean towel or plastic bag. Let rest for 2 hours.
At least 45 minutes before cooking put on your oven on at it's maximum temperature (mine goes up to 250º C, which worked ok) up to 800ºF (430ºC). If you have a baking stone put it in the oven now. If you don't have a stone then you can use a normal baking sheet, just don't preheat it first. I used ordinary pizza pans.
Now comes the tricky part to stretch out your dough, dust your peel or sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal. Coat your hands in flour including the backs and your knuckles. Gently lay the dough on to the top of your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion. As it starts to spread out you can move to the full toss method (flinging it above your head and hoping it doesn't fall on the floor - good luck!). If it sticks to your hands at any point lay it out flat and redust your hands, continue stretching until it is the desired width.
Once you have reached the desired width place the stretched dough on the peel or baking sheet.
Now you can top it as you wish. For the top I used a thin layer of tomato sauce with basil, oregano and minced garlic cloves. Then added some porcini mushrooms, bulgarian kashkaval (a type of yellow cheese produced here) and fresh tomato slices. When out of the oven I garnished with some fresh garlic and arugula sprouts.
Now that your oven should have preheated, transfer the pizza to your oven. It should only take between 8 and 10 minutes to cook. You might want to turn it 180 degrees after 2 minutes, if you think it might overcook on one side.