Bakers & Best Pizza Party
I had been wanting to have a bunch of people over for pizza so that I could test out lots of different dough recipes and cooking techniques. Finally, I got around to it last weekend. I made all kinds of dough and everyone else brought toppings and made their own pizzas. We made 7 pizzas in total, 4 thin crust and 3 thicker, more American style, crust.
I used Peter Reinhart’s neapolitan pizza dough recipe for the thin crust, and made it with Caputo 00 pizza flour that I bought recently. The thick crust recipe was one that I have adjusted for quite a while, but originally found it on Reddit.
We had pepperoni, spinach, and red pepper (my personal favorite)
Roasted red pepper and arugula…
A buffalo sauce, pepperoni, and bleu cheese (or was it feta? I can’t remember, and I didn’t have any of this one). This was definitely the winner for most creative, and seemed popular.
This one had squash, caramelized onions, and feta. I think it’s the best neapolitan style crust I’ve ever made. Super puffy outer edges, thin crunch bottom, and one huge bubble as well (back right).
Unfortunately we didn’t get pictures of all 7, but this last one had caramelized onions, arugula, and feta (or bleu cheese? Again, I don’t remember for sure. Next time I do this I’ll write things down).
- 4½ C (20.25 ounces) unbleached high-gluten, bread, or all-purpose flour
- 1¾ tsp (.44 ounce) salt
- 1 tsp (.11 ounce) instant yeast
- ¼ C (2 ounces) olive oil (optional)
- 1¾ C (14 ounces) water, ice cold (40°F)
- Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl.
- If the dough is too wet and doesn't come off the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. If it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a tea- spoon or two of cold water. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky.
- Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with baking parchment and misting the parchment with spray oil (or lightly oil the parchment).
- Using a metal dough scraper, cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Sprinkle flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Lift each piece and gently round it into a ball. If the dough sticks to your hands, dip your hands into the flour again.
- Transfer the dough balls to the sheet pan, Mist the dough generously with spray oil and cover with plastic wrap.
- Put the pan into the refrigerator overnight to rest the dough, or keep for up to 3 days.
- On the day you plan to make the pizza, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before making the pizza. Before letting the dough rest at room temperature for 2 hours, dust the counter with flour, and then mist the counter with spray oil.
- Place the dough balls on top of the floured counter and sprinkle them with flour; dust your hands with flour. Gently press the dough into flat disks about ½ inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil, and cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag.
- Now let rest for 2 hours.
- At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone either on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven as hot as possible, mine goes up to 500F. If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but do not preheat the pan.
- Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal. Make the pizzas one at a time. Dip your hands, including the backs of your hands and knuckles, in flour and lift I piece of dough by getting under it with a pastry scraper. Very gently lay the dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion on your hands, carefully giving it a little stretch with each bounce. If it begins to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue shaping it.
- When the dough is stretched out to your satisfaction lay it on the peel or pan, making sure there is enough semolina flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide.
- Add sauce and toppings, and slide the topped pizza onto the stone (or bake directly on the sheet pan) and close the door. Wait 2 minutes, then take a peek. If it needs to be rotated 180 degrees for even baking, do so.
- The pizza should take about 5 to 8 minutes to bake. If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone to a lower self before the next round. if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone for subsequent bakes.
- Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3 to 5 minutes before slicing and serving, to allow the cheese to set slightly.