One of my crazy obsessions for probably the past two years has been how to make the best authentic, brick oven like margarita pizza possible. After tons of research and weekly testing, I'm 99.9% there - with consistency being that elusive .1% and, I'll be honest, I blame that .1% on the weather. Kid you not.
It will sound complicated but it's not. The recipe is crazy simple. It's all technique which I will spell out in detail (hence the length of this post).
Time: At least 3.5 - 4 hours. Most of that is rising time so just a little on task.
- All purpose flour (I use King Arthur): 2 cups plus more for kneading and surface work
- Rapid-Rise Instant Yeast: about 3/4 tsp
- Canned Whole Tomatoes (14 oz for one pizza, 28 oz for two)
- Fresh Basil
- Fresh Mozzarella
- Olive Oil
Notes on Tools:
- Pastry Cutter (similar to this) Not necessary but makes clean up and cutting SO much easier.
- Pizza Stone (similar to this) This was a game changer so I'd consider this a necessity.
- Pizza Peel (similar to this) Again, not necessary but worth it if you do this on a regular basis. Otherwise you need to remove the pizza stone for each pizza you build and, trust me, it's not a cake walk lifting that pizza stone.
- Large oven proof bowl.
- Something to crush your whole tomatoes like a food processor or submersion blender. I've begun to use our Ninja Bullet and it works great.
Another NOTE: The recipe I give will make two medium sized pizzas. Just cut it in half for one but, again trust me, you'll want two.
Ready? Grab a measuring cup and your measuring spoons.
Prep Step: Preheat your oven to 170 degrees. Once it's preheated, cut it off and leave the oven door closed.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, add two level teaspoons of the flour and about 3/4 tsp of sugar. Warm up 1 cup of water in the microwave for about 35 seconds. Pour it over the flour and sugar and stir to blend. Sprinkle 1/2 heaping tsp. of yeast over the warm water mixture and stir gently. Set a timer for 8 minutes and watch the yeast do it's thing.
Prep Step: Spray the metal bowl with cooking spray (I use olive oil spray, but not necessary) then drizzle a bit of olive oil around the sides and bottom. Pull out a piece of saran wrap to cover the bowl but lay it out on the counter and spray with cooking spray on one side.
After 8 minutes add a little over two cups of flour and one tsp. of salt to the mixture and begin to mix (I used one of those non-stick spoons) until a dough forms. (You can also do this step in a standing mixer using the dough hook but I just do it the old fashioned way.) Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 4 minutes, adding flour when it becomes sticky, until a nice even dough forms. Roll the dough ball a bit in the oiled metal bowl and then cover it with the saran wrap, oiled side down. Dampen a kitchen towel and cover the bowl. Place the covered bowl into the warm oven for at least two hours.
After 2+ hours...
Prep Step: Sprinkle flour onto a cookie sheet or large pan. Set aside.
Remove the dough from the oven. It should have at least doubled. Dust the surface of your counter and turn the dough onto the surface. Work into a neat ball for one pizza, log for two. If you're making two, cut it into two sections using your pastry cutter. Turn it under to form a nice ball and place onto the floured cookie sheet, seam side down. Cover again with oiled saran wrap and a kitchen towel but this time leave it out on the counter for about an hour to rise again.
IMPORTANT Prep Step: Time to preheat your oven to it's highest temperature (mine is 525-550). It will need to preheat for at least one hour WITH the pizza stone inside heating up as well. (this is how you get the brick oven effect)
Time to make this complicated sauce. 😉 Drain the can of whole tomatoes over the sink. Then, still over the sink, gently squeeze each tomato to remove some of the additional liquid. Add salt to your tomatoes and mix to make sauce using your mixer. Aaaaannnnd that's the sauce.
After an hour...
Prep Step: Grab your pizza peel and sprinkle it generously with the cornmeal. Don't be shy. You don't want your pizza to stick! Get out your mozzarella and, if it's on the wet side, lay out the slices on a paper towel to dry a bit. You don't want watery cheese on a thin pizza. Grab your torn basil, salt and pepper.
Using the pastry cutter remove one of the pizza crusts and carefully set it onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your finger tips push around the outer edge forming an outer rim about 1" wide. Continue to push down the INSIDE section with your finger tips. At this point I toss the pizza crust between both hands - not as difficult or as fancy as it sounds. This easily stretches out the pizza to form a thin inner crust. (This video is great for illustrating the technique. I use a different recipe)
Lay the pizza crust onto your cornmeal-ed pizza peel. Add a thin layer of the sauce, mozzarella, torn basil. Top with additional salt and pepper. Gently slide into the oven onto the now super heated pizza stone.
The pizza only takes a few minutes to cook so, if you're making more than one pizza, go ahead and get the second pizza prepped and ready to go in as soon as the first comes out.
Note: I use a long handled spatula, tongs or spoon to slide the finished pizza onto my pizza pan.
Remove your pizza onto a pan, drizzle with olive oil, pour yourself a fresh glass of wine and take a bow. Your fans will adore you.