At the Table

Pizza Margherita

By far the best pizza I’ve ever eaten (in the US!), adapted from Forno Bravo

For Crust:

4 c. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 plus 2 T. warm water

2 t. salt

1/2 t. active dry yeast

Mix all ingredients by hand or with mixer and knead until smooth.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2-2 hours.  The dough may not seem to rise much, but it’s never been a problem for me.  Punch down and divide dough into 4-5 equal parts; smaller portions here mean thinner crusts later (which is more authentically Italian).  Shape each piece of dough into a ball.  To make a seamless top, stretch the top of the dough ball over itself and pinch closed at the bottom of the ball.  Dust with flour, cover with a damp cloth, and let the dough proof for another hour.

To form the pizza, form each dough ball into a round-ish crust.  The easiest way for me to do this is to use my fists tostretch the inner part of the crust, leaving a thicker “ring” around the edges so the sauce doesn’t spill out.  Then pick up the dough and hold an edge (letting the dough hang and stretch), slowly rotating the dough so it stays mostly circular.  Each ball of dough will make a ~8″ pizza, depending on how thick you want the crust.

Since I’m partial to pizza margherita, I top mine with pizza sauce, sliced cherry tomatoes, fresh or shredded mozzarella, and a drizzle of olive oil. To save yourself the incredible frustration of moving a loaded thin-crust pizza from countertop to oven, use a pizza peal or just form the pizza directly on the baking pan.  I usually use a pre-heated baking stone in the oven, which a) makes this very hard and b) requires opening the oven, partially pulling out the rack/stone, and assembling the pizza right there (no counter required!).  It’s worth it though; in my opinion a baking stone yields superior results.

Bake on a cornmeal-dusted pizza tray or preheated baking stone at 425 degrees for 10 minutes or so, until the crust starts to brown and the cheese is bubbly and golden.

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