Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Neapolitan -Style Pizza Dough ... Something to Build On

Since we've been talking about pizza, I can't believe I never gave you some of the most basic recipes that are used to "build" pizza around our house.

From my favorite cookbook on the subject, Pizza: Anyway You Slice It by Charles and Michele Scicolone,  comes one of the favorite pizza doughs of our household. I used it when we had a party and had a couple of people particularly comment upon how much they like it.

It has what may seem like an unusual ingredient, cake flour. This is included because Italian flour is lower in gluten than American flour and cake flour helps turn the crust into a tender, easily stretched dough which is easy to shape.

I'll confess that I often cheat and use 2-1/2 teaspoons yeast, a more traditional amount (at least for someone who is used to bread baking), to get the dough to rise in an hour or less.

Neapolitan-Style Pizza Dough

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1-1/4 cups warm water
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
2-1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
Olive oil for the bowl

Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let stand for 1 minute, or until the yeast is creamy. Stir until the yeast dissolves.

In a large bowl, combine the cake flour, 2-1/2 cups of the all purpose flour, and the salt. Add the yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Lightly coat another large bowl with oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to oil the top. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft free place and let rise until doubled in bulk; about 1-1/2 hours.

Flatten the dough with your fist. Cut the dough into 2 to 4 pieces and shape the pieces into balls. Dust the tops with flour. Place the balls on a floured surface and cover each with plastic wrap, allowing room for the dough to expand. Let rise 60 to 90 minutes, or until doubled.

Thirty to sixty minutes before baking the pizzas, place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles on a rack in the lowest level of the oven. Turn on the oven to the maximum temperature, 500 to 550 degrees.

Shape and bake pizzas in desired fashion.

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