Happy Pi Day: Pizza Pie Recipe

Last Monday, I coached Thing One into creating a pizza from scratch.  She enjoyed the lesson so much, that she promptly went over to the calendar and wrote Pizza Night on all the Mondays.

In honor of her exuberance, and the fact that this Pizza Monday is also Pi day, I’ll share with you our pizza pie recipe.  Thing One is not into a lot of junk on her pizza, so these are old school, Neapolitan-style margarita pizzas.

I believe I got the original outlines for the dough and sauce recipes from this this crazy pizza genius.  This is a guy who had moved to Atlanta, but whose very bones ached for a slice of Patsy’s NYC pizza.  His only choice in this pizza desert was to spend 6 years (!) perfecting a recipe that could duplicate this Neapolitan style pizza in his home kitchen.  Of course, he had to clip the door lock off his oven so he could cook his pizzas in 2-3 minutes at a temperature known as the “self-cleaning cycle”, but he reached his pizza Nirvana.  I am not as passionate about my pizza, so I cook it on a stone at 550 degrees for about 7 minutes.

The simple recipe is at the end.

Dough:

First, combine 740 gm of flour with 624 gm water.  Mix this together until the flour is as evenly wetted as possible, and then let it sit for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add 9 gm active dry yeast and 21 gm salt to 220 gm flour, and mix to combine.  After the 20 minutes has passed, add the remaining flour mixture to the dough by a combination of mixing and kneading.

Stand on a chair, and knead for about 5 minutes until a smooth ball is formed.

Let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes.  Divide the dough into 4 x 400 gm balls.

You can now refrigerate these dough balls for 1-6 days in the refrigerator.  Place the dough in individual small plastic containers, lightly oiled and with a lid.  When you are ready to use them, remove them from the fridge, and let them sit at room temperature for about 1.5 hours, until they have risen about 50%.

If you want to use the dough immediately, let the dough balls sit, covered with a lightly damp cloth, until risen about 50% (about 30-45 minutes).  During this rise, preheat your oven with a pizza stone in it to 550 degrees (or as high as it will go).

Sauce:

Open a 28oz can of San Marzano plum tomatoes.

Pour the contents of the can through a strainer into a bowl.  Take each tomato, open it and with your fingers remove most of the seeds and discard.  Place the tomato flesh in the bowl with the juice.  Once the tomatoes are mostly de-seeded, rub any remaining pulp through the strainer into the bowl and crush the tomatoes in their juice by hand.

Add about 1-2T olive oil to a saucepan and when hot, add 2 cloves of garlic and a very small pinch of red pepper flakes.

Heat until you can smell the garlic and then add the de-seeded tomatoes and juice to the saucepan.  Add a leaf or two of torn basil.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Taste and add a small pinch of sugar if it tastes bitter.   Remove from heat.

Assembly:

Take a ball of dough and pat it into a circle.  Pick up the circle, and holding it by the edge, gently stretch and pinch the dough making the circle larger and the dough thinner.  Then, draping the dough on the back of my hands, I stretch it further.  My assistant demonstrates.

I quickly move my hands around the edge of the circle and the weight of the dough hanging down helps to stretch it.   Again, to my able assistant.

This method also leaves the edge of the dough a little thicker for a nice crust.  I don’t make the dough much larger than 13″ in diameter because it will be too thin, and it also won’t fit on my pizza stone!

If the dough really resists the shaping, and seems to spring back, let it rest on the counter for 5 minutes or so and it will relax a bit and then continuing with the stretching.

Prepare a pizza peel (or rimless cookie sheet) by sprinkling cornmeal on it.  The cornmeal will act like little ball bearings and allow the pizza to easily slip onto the stone for baking.  Place the dough on the peel and top it evenly with a bit of sauce.  Don’t use too much, or the pizza will be soggy in the middle.  I then top it with a sprinkling of fresh chopped basil, followed by shredded mozzarella cheese (part skim, shredded at home) and grated Parmesan cheese.  I put the basil under the cheese so it won’t burn in the oven.  I think I will be out of a job soon…

Ready for the oven!

Slide the pizza from the peel onto the stone with a quick jerk (be brave and assertive, and it will slide right off). Cook for about 5-7 minutes, watching carefully those last couple of minutes.

(Capture  blurry picture of pizza in 550 degree oven.  Remember to draw in eyebrows tomorrow.  Ouch.)

I like the cheese lightly browned, and the crust with a light char on the underside.  This is a teensy pale.

While the first pizza is cooking, I prep the second one.  I take the first pizza out of the oven and place it on a cooling rack for a minute or two before cutting.  I think this helps keep the bottom crust crisp.  I using a cookie sheet as a peel (or big spatula) to get the pizza out of the oven, since the peel now has the next uncooked pizza on it.  Slide the next pizza in the oven, and continue until you are out of ingredients.  The cook eats her pizza while standing in the kitchen assembling pizzas and watching them cook.

Recipe:

960 gm flour

624 gm water, warmed

21 gm kosher salt

9 gm active dry yeast

1 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes, seeded, and crushed by hand

1T olive oil

2 cloves garlic

small pinch of red pepper flakes

pinch of sugar (optional)

1/2 pound half skim mozzarella cheese (shredded at home)

1/4 – 1/3  c Parmesan cheese, grated

Basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Few tablespoons of cornmeal

Combine 740gm flour with all the warm water, mix and set aside for 20 minutes.  Combine remaining flour, salt and yeast.  Mix into dough, and knead for 5 minutes.  Divide into 4 equal sized dough balls, and place in lightly oiled container.  Keep in refrigerator for 1-6 days.  Remove from refrigerator and keep at room temperature about 1.5 hours to warm up and rise about 50%. If you decide to use the dough immediately (ie no refrigeration), let the dough rise, covered with a damp towel for 30-45 minutes, until increased about 50%.  Shape dough into 13″ diameter circles.  If dough resists shaping, let it rest on the counter for 5-10 minutes to relax, and then continue shaping.  Place dough on a peel (or rimless cookie sheet) prepared with a sprinkling of cornmeal.  Top dough with sauce (see below) and other toppings.  Slide onto pizza stone, and bake at 550 degrees for 5-7 minutes, watching carefully for the last couple of minutes.

Sauce:

Seed canned plum tomatoes and crush by hand.  Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes and heat until you can smell the garlic.  Add the tomatoes, pulp and juice to saucepan, and a few torn basil leaves and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Add a pinch of sugar if necessary.

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