Now that I am married, my husband has joined me in this passion of Italian food, especially Neapolitan pizzas. After several consecutive date nights to Settebello's, our favorite authentic Italian restaurant in Salt Lake, Jordan decided it was time for us to learn how to make the pizzas for ourselves at home.
We set out on a mission to learn how to make these pizzas the true Italian way. We would go to Settebello's and request to sit at the bar so that we could watch the chefs make the pizzas. We took notes of their technique and even secretly filmed them :) It didn't take long before we realized that making these pizzas at home was going to be a lot harder than we thought since we were missing one key element: the 1000 degree wood-burning pizza oven!
Months later, after much trial and error, we have finally come up with what we think is the best recipe and method for at-home ovens--and it's pretty darn true to taste! Some parts may sound complicated but truly anybody can make these. This is a recipe you will want to keep forever. Creating these pizzas together have become our favorite date night activity, and we hope that sharing this recipe will create fun memories for you and your friends and families as well.
Ciao! Jordan here. This is how it's done, ladies and gents.
Home oven! (no need for that 1,000 degree wood-burning-pizza oven!)
Someone to eat your pizza with :)
**20 oz (about 4 cups) Italian type "00" flour, plus extra for dusting dough
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
12 ounces warm water
**Type 00 flour is a type of extremely fine Italian flour. It is a MUST for this recipe, and possibly the most important ingredient to achieve the authentic italian pizza dough texture and flavor. We order ours from Amazon. There are many brands that will work wonderfully. We buy the Antimo Caputo Tipo "00" that comes in 1 kg bags and we have loved it. To make sure that you are using the precise amount of flour necessary, I HIGHLY recommend using a kitchen scale to weigh the flour instead of using measuring cups, which tend to compact the flour and cause you to add too much.
1 can diced tomatoes
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh ground salt and pepper
*Instead of a sauce you can also use thin slices of fresh tomato. This is also a favorite of ours!
12-14 ounces fresh mozzarella
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh basil leaves
1.) In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the "type 00" flour, salt, yeast, and sugar. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly. Add the warm water and knead on low speed until the mixture comes together and no dry flour remains (about 5 minutes). Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Knead on low speed for an additional 5 minutes with the dough hook, then transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes until the dough comes together in a very smooth, soft ball that barely sticks to the surface of the table. (You may need to add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time if it is too sticky to get the right water-flour ratio). Put the dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours. (You can also keep the dough in the refrigerator longer for up to 72 hours). This refrigeration process gives the dough a much richer flavor. I have tried making the pizzas skipping the refrigeration step many times and it will still work, but is never quite the same.
2.) Remove the dough from the refrigerator and transfer to a flour work surface. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes to warm it up and soften it. Using a bench scraper, divide the dough into 4-5 equally sized pieces such that each piece is 6-8 oz in weight. With floured hands, shape each piece into a clean ball shape by gathering the dough towards the bottom. Wipe the insides of 4-5 small bowls (deep cereal bowls work great for this) with extra virgin olive oil to prevent sticking, and add one dough ball to each bowl. Cover all the bowls with a damp towel and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours until they double in size.
3.) While the dough is rising, open the can of diced tomatoes and drain thoroughly. Transfer the diced tomatoes to a blender or food processor. Blend until the tomatoes come together in a sauce, but do not overblend to a frothy puree. You want the sauce to have some chunky texture to it. Add fresh ground sea salt and pepper to taste. I usually add some finely chopped fresh basil leaves to the sauce, but you could also use dried basil from your spice rack. Transfer sauce to a bowl and set aside. With your hands, break apart the fresh mozzarella into medium sized pieces. I usually like my mozzarella pieces pretty big--see the picture above. The idea is not to cover the entire pizza in shredded cheese like an American pizza, but instead have a handful of large cheese pieces that melt into separate "pools" of cheese as I like to call them :) Allow the cheese pieces to dry of excess water on a paper towel for about 10 minutes--you may need to dab them dry.
4.) Turn your oven up as high as it will go (ours gets to about 500 degrees) and allow the pizza stone to warm up with the oven on the middle rack. Allow the oven and stone to heat for about 30 minutes to reach their maximum temperature. With floured hands, remove 1 dough ball and place on a well-floured surface. You are now going to shape the pizza dough. At this point I believe any technique you choose will work, so long as the dough is spread to about 12-14 inches in diameter and roughly 1/8 of an inch thick, typically thinner in the middle and very slightly thicker at the edges. We use both our hands and a rolling pin to achieve this. To help stretch the dough, many pizzerias will let half of the dough hang over the edge of your work table and rotate the dough to allow gravity to pull the dough and stretch it.
Don't worry if your dough is not shaped into a perfect circle. Sometimes the unique shape makes it more authentic and gives it more character!
5.) Before cooking the pizza, make sure you have all your desired toppings close by your oven. For an original margherita you will use sauce (or thin tomato slices), mozzarella, basil, and olive oil. If you are looking for a little more than a margherita we like to add shreds of prosciutto and pine nuts as well. Once you have your pizza dough ready, make sure it is well floured and pull the dough carefully onto a floured pizza paddle. Carefully transfer to the pizza stone in your oven and start a timer for 1 minute. The purpose of this first oven exposure is to cook the bottom of your dough until it is very lightly browned and holds its shape. Remove the dough after 1 minute. Immediately turn your oven to broiler to allow it to heat while you add the toppings. Keeping your pizza on your pizza paddle and, working quickly, apply a few spoonfuls of sauce and spread, leaving the outer 1-inch sauce-free. Apply toppings. Drizzle lightly with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and throw on 4 or 5 basil leaves. Return to the oven, this time to cook the top of the pizza with the broiler. This process may vary depending on the heat of your broiler, but it usually takes about 4-5 minutes for us. Cook until the cheese is melted and you get darkly charred spots on the crust of your dough. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board and serve immediately. To cook the remaining pizzas, return your oven to normal bake at its highest temperature and repeat steps 4 and 5.