Homemade Pizza Margherita

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Living in New Jersey means that I can get an outstanding pizza pretty much at every corner. Nevertheless, once in a while, I like making my own pizza at home and from scratch. To me a perfect pizza starts with a perfect crust; thin, crispy and light. But to re-create this typical texture at home, without a wood-fired oven isn’t that simple. In the past, my crusts rarely turned out to be perfect. Until I read in an American (yes! can you believe it?) magazine that replacing some of the all-purpose wheat flour with cake flour gives the crust the desired, fine and delicate, texture.

cake flour

Cake flour is a very low protein wheat flour, very finely milled and usually bleached, which gives it a very fine texture and a very light color. It is great for, well, baking cakes, especially layer cakes. You will find cake flour in the baking aisle of every well-equipped grocery store or in various online shops. Since I usually have some cake flour on hand, I decided to give it a try and it worked out perfectly, not only once, but every time.

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As for the topping, pizza Margherita requires nothing more than a thin veil of tomato sauce, creamy mozzarella, and fresh basil.

Homemade Pizza Margherita

  • Servings: makes 2 pizzas
  • Difficulty: requires some experience
  • Print

Ingredients

Dough
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of instant (dry) yeast
  • 250ml of water, room temperature
  • 250g of all-purpose flour + extra for dusting
  • 113g of cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
Topping
  • 1 can (411g / 14.5oz) of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh basil leaves + extra for garnishing
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • salt
  • about 200g of fresh mozzarella, cut into thin slices
  • 2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil
Equipment
  • pizza stone
  • pizza peel

Method

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the second highest position. Place the pizza stone on the rack and preheat the oven to 260°C / 500°F. Let it heat for about an hour.
  2. Prepare the dough: Whisk yeast and room-temperature water in a cup until yeast is dissolved. In a bowl combine all-purpose flour, cake flour, sugar, and salt. Slowly add yeast mixture and mix with an electric mixer or in a food processor (use hooks) until the dough forms an elastic, slightly sticky ball, that clears sides of mixing bowl. Divide dough in half and shape into smooth, tight balls. Place dough balls on floured counter or baking sheet, leaving enough space between them; cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap coated with vegetable oil and let rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.img_1074-2

  3. Prepare the topping: Blend together tomatoes and the juice in a food blender. Transfer the mixture to fine-mesh strainer placed over a bowl and let drain for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to release the liquid. Just before shaping the pizza pies, combine 1 tablespoon of chopped basil, garlic, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the tomatoes in a bowl.

  4. Shape and bake: When dough balls have doubled in size, dust them with flour and transfer to a well-floured counter. Press 1 ball into a disk. Using your palms and fingers, gently stretch the disk into a 30 cm (12-inch) circle, working along the edge and giving the disk quarter turns. Lightly flour pizza peel, then transfer the dough to peel. Brush off any excess flour. img_1083-2Using a rubber spatula, spread about half of the tomato sauce in a thin layer over the dough, leaving 1/2- inch (1.2 cm) border around edge.img_1079-2 Slide dough onto stone and bake until crust begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Using peel, remove pizza from oven; close oven door and top pizza with half of the mozzarella slices, evenly spaced.

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    Return pizza to stone and continue to bake until cheese is just melted, 4-5 minutes longer. Transfer to cutting board and garnish with basil, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Slice and serve immediately. Repeat step 4 to shape, top and bake second pizza.img_1110-3

 

 

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