Wednesday, March 06, 2013

No knead neapoliton-style pizza dough with herbed cooked tomato sauce

I am so excited to share this recipe with you, because my husband and I agree that this is hands down the best pizza recipe I've ever made. I absolutely love the flavor and texture of this crust, and the sauce is just delicious, too. And this is a no knead recipe! You just put the ingredients in a bowl, let sit and rise twice, and bake. It's so very easy. You can start it the night before just before bed and let it sit overnight, or wait until the day of. I have made this 3 or 4 times now and have put it together before bed, and it has turned out great every time. This is another fabulous recipe from Kneadlessly Simple, and just like the others, the directions look long but that is only because the author is very detailed and gives different options for things. It is quite easy, and I love that I don't even have to knead it in a stand mixer. 

I'm noting the times below for those of you who it might help see how easy this is and the timing I used. 

This recipe makes two 11-12" pizzas, so for a family, you will want to bake both for dinner. One pizza would feed 2 people, and when we make both, we have some left over (and we eat a lot).  I make both pizzas, and sometimes it's fun to do different toppings on each one. I am sure I could combine the dough to make one large pizza, and I will try that soon, but I haven't experimented with the different baking time that would be needed yet.

If you like homemade pizza-and we love it at our house-you will definitely want to try this recipe. I love it so much that I've abandoned my past pizza recipes in favor of this one, hands down!

Neapolitan-style pizza dough
From Kneadlessly Simple (I highly recommend this book!)
My notes are in italics


For the dough:
3 cups (15 oz) unbleached, all purpose flour, plus more as needed
Generous 1 1/4 tsp. table salt
1/2 tsp. instant, fast-rising, or bread machine yeast (I use bread machine yeast)
Scant 1 1/2 cups ice water, plus more if needed.
1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for brushing over dough and pans

For the sauce:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. finely minced fresh garlic, or 1 Tbsp. finely chopped onion (I use garlic)
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes (I used tomato sauce)
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried thyme leaves (or I just sprinkle some dried thyme powder over it)
1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/8-1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper, or to taste
(I also use a squirt of honey to sweeten it just a little, but that is optional-I needed it more since I was using tomato sauce)

(Directions for the sauce: Combine the oil and garlic or onion in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, for 1 minute for garlic or 2 minutes for onion. Add the tomatoes, oregano, and thyme. Adjust the heat so the mixture boils gently and cook, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until the sauce is cooked down and thickened, 10-15 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, if using, and salt and pepper. Use immediately, or refrigerate for later use. (I usually only use part of this sauce for two pizzas, so I freeze the rest in two more batches for future pizzas).

Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and in the freezer for up to two months.

DIRECTIONS for the dough:

First rise: (I put this together right before bed, or you could do it the day of)
-In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, salt, and yeast. 
-Vigorously stir in the water, scraping down the sides, just until throughly blended.
-Stir in the olive oil until evenly incorporated. 
If the mixture is too dry to mix, add in just enough water to facilitate mixing, as the dough should be firm. If the dough is soft, stir in enough more flour to firm it. (I do not know exactly what her versions of soft vs dry are-when I make this, my dough is very soft and sticky). 
-Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. (If desired, for best flavor or for convenience, you can refrigerate the dough for 3-10 hours.) 
-Then let it rise at cool room temperature for 4-12 hours. (So mine usually rises all night and then I stick it in the fridge the next morning until I'm ready to do the second rise below, but you could also put it together the morning of and let it rise until you are ready for the second rise).

Second rise: Stir the dough to deflate it. Divide it in half using oiled kitchen shears (I just use my hands and put olive oil on them). 
The dough portions can be used immediately; or refrigerated for up to 12 hours and then used (As mentioned earlier, I do this before I'm ready to let it rise the second time before it's baked); or frozen, wrapped airtight, for up to 1 month. Use each half to prepare one pizza.

-Place the dough portions on 12-inch lightly oiled pizza pans, baking sheets, or large sheets of nonstick spray-coated baking parchment (my parchment paper can't be used at this high of a temperature-check the box yours comes in).  
-Drizzle lightly with olive oil, then press and stretch the dough into two 11 1/2-12" rounds with oiled fingertips; if it is resistant and springs back, let it rest for a few minutes before continuing. The shape doesn't have to be perfect, but be sure to push the dough outward to slightly build up and thicken the edges(which would burn if too thin). 
-Set aside to rise, tented with nonstick spray-coated foil (I just spray some cooking spray on plastic wrap), for 25-45 minutes, depending on whether you prefer a thin, slightly dense crust, or a lighter, medium-thick-one. 

Baking preliminaries: 20 minutes before baking time, place a rack in the lowest slot of the oven; preheat to 500 degrees F. Place a rimless baking sheet (or place a rimmed sheet upside down) on the lowest rack.

-Place the pizza pan with the dough (or the dough on the parchment) on the preheated baking sheet that is already in the oven. 
-Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the dough begins to firm and puff up. 
-Remove from the oven and spread the sauce to within 1/3 inch of the edge all around. 
-Add toppings and cheese evenly over the top. 
-Return to the oven and bake until the top is bubble and the edge is puffy and nicely browned, about 10 minutes longer (watch your oven-mine starts to brown around 7 minutes). Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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