Pizza

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This is a recipe from The Mozza Cookbook.

So I set off the smoke detector in my apartment the other day.

I’ve made this pizza recipe several times before, but I was always too lazy to dust the bottom of my dough with semolina flour. I’d already bought rye flour and wheat germ specifically for this recipe, so why drop close to $4 at Ralph’s for a finishing touch? This time, however, I was determined to “do it right.”

Ah, hubris. Within minutes of popping the pizza into the oven there was smoke, the wailing of smoke detectors, and the gnashing of teeth. I had forgotten to clear away the excess semolina flour, which was rapidly turning into carbon in the 550 degree oven. Much flapping of dish towels and opening of windows ensued.

However, the pizza was still as delicious as always. I’ve tried several other homemade pizza recipes, and despite the funky/expensive ingredients, this really is the best. Just, you know, be careful not to burn your house down.

Yield
Makes enough dough for 6 pizzas; each pizza serves one

Ingredients
22 ounces warm tap water (2 cups, 6 ounces) [divided]
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) compressed yeast or 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
26 ounces unbleached bread flour, plus more as needed [divided]
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) dark rye flour or medium rye flour
1 1/2 teaspoons wheat germ
1 1/2 teaspoons barley malt or mild-flavored honey, such as clover or wildflower
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) kosher salt
Olive oil, grapeseed oil, or another neutral flavored oil, such as canola oil, for greasing the bowl

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Directions

To make the sponge, put 15 ounces of water and the yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer and let it sit for a few minutes to dissolve the yeast. Add 13 ounces of the bread flour, the rye flour, and the wheat germ. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients.

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Wrap the bowl tightly in plastic wrap and tightly wrap the perimeter of the bowl with kitchen twine or another piece of plastic wrap to further seal the bowl [I use saran wrap and a rubber band]. Set the dough aside at room temperature (ideally 68 to 79 degrees) for 1 1/2 hours.

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Uncover the bowl and add remaining 7 ounces of water, the remaining 13 ounces of bread flour, and the barley malt. Fit the mixer with the dough hook, place bowl on the mixer stand, and mix the dough on low speed for 2 minutes. Add salt and mix on medium speed for 6 to 8 minutes, until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Note that the dough will not pull so much that it completely cleans the bowl, but if the dough is too sticky and is not pulling away from the sides at all, throw a small handful of flour into the bowl to make it less sticky. While the dough is mixing, lightly grease with olive oil a bowl large enough to hold the dough when it doubles in size. Turn the dough out of the mixer into the oiled bowl. Wrap the bowl as before. Set dough aside at room temperature for 45 minutes. Dust your work surface. Acting as if the round has four sides, fold the edges of the dough toward the center. Turn the dough over and return it, folded side down, to the bowl. Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and set it aside for 45 minutes.

Dust your work surface again lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Divide the dough into six equal segments, each weighing approximately 7 ounces. Gently tuck the edges of each round of dough under itself. Cover the dough rounds with a clean dishtowel and let them rise for 5 minutes.

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Lightly flour your hands and use both hands to gather each round of dough into a taut ball. Dust a baking sheet generously with flour and place dough rounds on the baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with the dishtowel and set them again at room temperature for 1 hour to proof the dough. (Or leave the dough on the counter to proof instead.)

To assemble and bake your pizzas: Prepare your topping ingredients. [I generally use canned or jarred pizza sauce and fresh mozzarella.]

Remove oven racks from the oven and place a pizza stone on the floor of the oven.

Preheat oven and the stone to 500 degrees, or as hot as your oven will go, for at least 1 hour. In a pinch, use the underside of a thick baking sheet (don’t use a nonstick one).

Create a pizza station that includes bowls full of olive oil, kosher salt and other necessary ingredients. Have a bowl of flour ready for dusting your countertop. Have a bowl of semolina ready for dusting your pizza peel.

When your dough is ready, generously flour your work surface and place one round of dough in the center of the floured surface. Dust the dough lightly with flour. (If you haven’t already, right about now you will want to pour yourself a glass of wine.)

Using your fingertips as if you were tapping on piano keys, gently tap on the center of the dough to flatten it slightly, leaving a 1-inch rim untouched.

Pick up the dough, ball both of your fists, and with your fists facing your body, place the top edge of the dough on your fists so the round stretches downward against the backs of your hands, away from them.

Move the circle of dough around your fists like the hands of a clock so the dough continues to stretch downward into a circle.

When the dough has stretched to about 10 inches diameter, lay it down on the flour-dusted surface.

Brush the rim of the dough with olive oil and sprinkle kosher salt over the surface of the dough.

Dress the pizza how you have chosen, making sure to leave a 1-inch rim with no sauce or toppings around the edge.

Dust a pizza peel with semolina and slide the pizza peel under the pizza with one decisive push. You are less likely to tear or misshape the dough with one good push of the peel than several tentative pushes. Reshape the pizza on the peel if it has lost its shape. Shake the peel gently to determine whether the dough will release easily in the oven. If it is sticking to the peel, carefully lift one side of the dough and throw some more semolina under it. Do this from a few different angles until there is semolina under the entire crust. [If using a baking sheet, remove any excess semolina.]

Open the oven door and slide the dough onto the preheated stone. Again moving decisively, pull the peel toward you to leave the pizza on the stone.

Bake the pizza until it is golden brown and the rim is crisp and blistered, 8 to 12 minutes. Cooking times vary depending on the power of your oven.

While the pizza is in the oven, clear a space on a clean, dry cutting board or place an aluminum pizza round on the counter to put the baked pizza on.

When the pizza is done, slide the peel under the crust, remove it from the oven, and place it on the cutting board or round.

Use a rolling pizza cutter to cut the pizza.

Repeat.

[I’ve found that the unused dough freezes well. Simply put the frozen dough in the refrigerator the day before you want to make pizza again and bring the dough to room temperature on the countertop a few hours before dinnertime.]

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