Pizza is one of the classic dishes that everyone loves. Pizza has been modified to all different forms around the world, but nothing compares to the pizza recipe I grew up with. When my parents came over from Italy, they cooked a thick crust pizza as was the tradition in Sicily. My aunts, sister-in-laws and I modified the approach over the years to a thinner crust, while keeping the recipe true to its origins. In Sicily today, you can find thick crust, as well as thin crust. In fact, thin crust is more common, and it’s especially delicious when baked in a wood oven stove. You don’t need a wood oven stove for my recipe (a regular electric or gas stove will work fine), but you will still need enough love, heart and soul that goes into a great pizza! I have great memories of making trays of pizzas for my kids, grandkids and all their friends, and I hope that you’ll be able to create some similar great memories with my recipe.
Episode 2 walks you through how to make the pizza dough, prepare the pan, place on the toppings and baking the pizza. Watch it and let us know your thoughts! We really enjoy your comments and would love to hear from you.
Making the Pizza Dough
The ingredients for making the dough for 3-4 pizzas (about 18 inches x 12 inches) are:
6 cups of flour (white flour), 2 cups of luke warm water, 2 one oz. packs of yeast, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of sugar
Place the 6 cups of flour in a large pan (make sure it’s big enough for you to knead and manipulate the dough). Add the salt, sugar and olive oil with the flour and mix well. Mix the yeast with the water. Stir it in for about 1-2 minutes until mixed well. The slowly pour a little bit of water in with the flour mix. Stir it, then add some more water. Stir again. Keep adding the water slowly until well mixed. If the dough is sticky, add some additional flour. The goal is to get the dough’s consistency smooth and even, so that’s not sticking to your fingers. Knead it with your hands, punching it down until the dough is smooth.
Keeping the dough in a single big ball, place a cloth over the top of the dough. Put a cover on top of the pan, and place in a warm spot to rise. Let the dough rise for about 75-90 minutes. The dough should rise about 3-4 inches, pushing the cloth upward. When it’s finished rising, break the dough into even, individual pizza dough balls (this recipe will allow for about 4 dough balls). Round the individual balls out, then cover each with a cloth in a warm spot and let them re-rise for about 15 minutes.
Preparing the Pizza Dough
The ingredients you’ll need to prepare the pizza dough on the pan are 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of grated pecorino romano cheese.
First, prepare your 18 x 12 x 1 pizza pan by coating it with olive oil. The olive oil will help the dough spread and ensure it doesn’t stick to the pan. You probably will need about 2 tablespoons of oil. Use a paper towel or cloth to spread the oil.
Once the pan is prepared, take one of the individual pizza dough balls, place it on the pan and begin stretching it out with your hands. Carefully pull it out, starting at the center of the ball, and then outward towards the edges of the pan. The dough should be thin, without tearing. If you do tear the dough, gently cover it up with some more dough. Add some grated pecorino romano cheese on top of the dough to help with the stretching process (it will give you some friction), as well as some flavor to the dough. You have a finished stretching the pizza dough out when it cover the entire surface of the pan, with only a small space between the edge of the dough and the edge of the pan all around.
Adding the Toppings
The ingredients you’ll need for toppings for 4 pizzas are one 28 oz can of pureed tomato (Pastene Kitchen Ready tomato sauce is recommended), about 4-5 cups of mozzarella cheese (grated from a package or fresh is fine), 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 diced cloves of garlic, a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, a pinch of dried oregano and whatever toppings you’d like. I recommend keeping it simple and either keeping it plain or adding prosciutto, mushrooms and/or roasted red peppers.
Heat the tomato sauce in a small pan on the stove. Heat it enough so it just gets warm– do not bring it to a boil. Low to medium heat for about 5-7 minutes is plenty.
Add a handful of minced garlic on the pizza (if you really like garlic, add more). Spread 4-5 large spoonfuls (a wooden spoon is recommended) of tomato sauce over the top of the pizza. Use the back of the spoon to spread the sauce over the dough, making sure it covers the entire pizza dough. Spread the grated mozzarella cheese over the pizza, getting good coverage all over the pizza. If you like extra cheese, feel free to add it, but I think a pizza with a moderate amount of cheese is best. Now you can add whatever toppings you’d like (stay clear of too many toppings– the simpler the better). In the video, I add mushrooms and roasted red pizza, but most of the time don’t add any and serve it plain. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and oregano over the pizza. Next, sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the pizza, and then you’re ready to get it into the oven.
Baking the Pizza
Once you’ve added the toppings, you’re ready to bake the pizza. Pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees (if your oven can’t reach that temperature, 450 degrees works). The higher temperature will get a nice crispy texture to the pizza. Place your pizza into the oven, about halfway down. You will cook the pizza for 10-15 minutes maximum. About halfway through cooking, be sure to check the bottom of the pizza to make sure it’s not sticking or burning. Lift it with a fork all the way around. Turn the pizza around in the oven for even baking. You will know the pizza is finished when it looks slightly brown on top and the sides. After 10-15 minutes, pull it out of the oven, and let it cool for a few minutes. Cut it (I like cutting it into squares, but any shape works!), and you’re ready to serve!
Serve the pizza by itself or whatever side dishes you’d like. A pilsner beer goes well with pizza (or wine if you prefer). Buon appetito!