There is something to be said about making pizza from scratch...starting with the pizza dough and ending with your choice of fresh toppings. Over five years ago, I purchased a pizza cookbook entitiled "Pizza: Any Way You Slice It" by Charles and Michele Scicolone. I was looking for a pizza dough recipe that was similar to the ones we had while on vacation in Croatia - a thin, chewy, and soft crust. The very first recipe in this book entitled "neopolitan-style pizza dough" proved to be the one I would use over and over again. It uses a combination of cake and all-purpose flours for a softer texture and is fairly simple to make. The time it takes to make the dough includes 15 minutes of gathering the ingredients and kneading the dough plus the proofing (rising) time of 3 hours.
After you mix together the ingredients, the mass looks as in the above photograph. Ten minutes later, the ball of flour, yeast, and salt looks smooth and round (below photograph) and is ready to proof (rise).
Pizza dough after 10 minutes of kneading
I place the dough in a glass bowl that's been coated with olive oil, cover it with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and place the bowl in an unheated oven on my broken pizza stone with the oven lamp turned on. I find that the heat from the lamp provides a perfect warm environment for the dough to rise. I set the timer to 90 minutes and then wait until the timer goes off.
Pizza dough prior to the first 90 minutes of proofing.
Pizza dough after the first 90 minutes of proofing.
As soon as the timer sounds, I take out the dough and quickly form it into two balls of dough and place both pieces on a wooden pizza peel dusted with flour. I cover it once again with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and set the timer for another 90 minutes.
Dough formed into two rounds and ready for the second proof.In the meantime, I gather my ingredients for the toppings. I prefer simple and fresh with little or no cheese, feta being the cheese of choice.
Toppings start with extra virgin olive oil and fresh thyme leaves.I then place chopped garlic, sliced tomatoes (in this case, a medley of baby tomatoes), sprinkle coarse sea salt, and add sliced green bell peppers and sliced Kalamata olives. Crumble some feta cheese on top and sprinkle everything with another one or two tablespoons of olive oil. Place in a preheated 550 degree oven (on the convection setting so that the air circulates) on a pizza stone for about 8 minutes or until the edges are light brown.
Pizza before 8 minutes of convection baking at 550 degrees on a hot pizza stone.