As many of you already know, we spent a year of our lives making a pizza oven. Insane? Yes, probably. There were many frustrating moments in which I swore I hated the massive pile of concrete and brick–like when it was a 110 degrees outside and the awning keeping the sun off wasn’t enough to keep us from burning up; when the summer storms hit quick and we tried desperately and often unsuccessfully to keep the awning in place in 60 MPH winds; cutting and recutting stone to get it to fit and when it finally did the whole top would collapse; hands that were so dry from the concrete they would crack and bleed with any sort of movement–awwww I cherish those memories. Actually, now that it is all over, they make me smile (and realize I never want to build another one–EVER–in my lifetime) and understand how much of ourselves we gave to that oven. Now I LOVE it!
So this is how our pizza nights go here at the casa. I make the dough, roll out the crusts, and decide on and prep the toppings. During which time my hubby splits the wood, fires up the oven, and cooks the pizzas to perfection! I usually get things started about 1 or 2 in the afternoon and by 7ish we are eating pies! After-which, we turn up the tunes, pour another big glass of wine and/or beer and sit in front of the oven reflecting on the day and how lucky we are to be living our dream!
I thought it was about time to share the crust recipe that I most often use with you. It is from Forno Bravo–where we learned how to build our oven. I haven’t tried it in a conventional oven, so I don’t know the best cooking time. In fact, I don’t even know the best temp since conventional ovens do not get to 900 degrees like my pizza oven. My suggestion is to play around with it set between 450 and 500 degrees, watch it closely, and let ME know what works best! The best advice I can give you is to use MY pizza sauce recipe, go LIGHT on the toppings, use a high quality cheese (or cheeses), roll out a nice and thin crust, cook with a very hot oven, and serve immediately. This will get you closer to authentic pizza than about anything. Oh, and stay away from toppings that are high in natural juices or fat–during the cooking process they will weep out and ultimately cause the crust to get soggy. If you want to use something like pineapple or fatty meats cook them ahead of time! TRUST ME ON THIS–we have cooked a ridiculous amount of pies and sadly ruined a LOT of crusts experimenting!
- 4 cups Molino Caputo Tipo 00 or bread flour
- 1 ½ cups, plus 2 TBL water
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
- Fun ingredients to mix in with your dough–freshly ground pepper, chopped fresh rosemary, dried basil, dried oregano, chipotle pepper flakes, cumin seed or any of your favorite DRY herbs and spices!!
Throw all ingredients into your mixer. Mix it slowly for two minutes, switch to the dough hook and then mix it faster for 5 minutes, and slow again for 2 minutes. Check out youtube for videos on prepping the dough and rolling out thin crusts!
Cover the dough and let it rise for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until double. Punch it down and push out the air bubbles. Form the dough into a large ball, then cut it into 4 pieces.
To make your pizza balls, shape each piece of dough into a ball. Gently roll your dough into a ball, then stretch the top of the ball down and around the rest of the ball, until the outer layer wraps around the other side. Pinch the two ends together to make a smooth ball with a tight outer “skin.” Set your ball seam-side down where it can rest. Dust your pizza balls with flour, and store them under a damp towel, in a proofing tray, or under plastic wrap. This will prevent the outside of the ball from drying out and creating a crust, and becoming difficult to work with. The top of the pizza ball should be soft and silky.
Your pizza balls will need to rest for about an hour to become soft and elastic, so that they can be easily be stretched or rolled into a thin crust pizza.
If you won’t need your dough for more than an hour, refrigerate it until you are ready to start.