CLASSIC ITALIAN STYLE PIZZA IN YOUR HOME OVEN
Classic Italian style pizza is one of my favorites, the crust has a thin crisp bottom layer topped with a wheat cloud that starts to dissolve on your tongue underneath the tomato and cheese. It can be made with either fresh or low-moisture mozzarella. Italian style pizza is usually cooked in a brick oven with an air temperature around 900°F and a baking surface temperature of 700-800°F, but with a few tweaks - adding Malted Barley Flour and Baker's Special Dry Milk to improve browning and moisture retention; using uncooked, strained tomatoes (passata) instead of whole peeled tomatoes to reduce water content - you can make Classic Italian Pizza in your home oven.
I'm using a BakePlate for a cooking surface, you could also use a PizzaPlate, pizza stone or steel. Hydration levels and cooking times will change with a pizza stone or steel. I use a wood peel to place pizzas in the oven. It's a personal preference, I think the dough slides off wood easier than aluminum. I do have an aluminum peel that I use to take pizzas out of the oven. The thin metal slides underneath the cooked pizza easier than a wood peel, and besides, the wood peel has another pizza on it waiting to go in. I have a 2 quart round plastic container half filled with a 50/50 mixture of semolina and 00 pizza flour that I use for dusting the peel and the work surface and a wire rack to place the pizza on to cool.
CLASSIC ITALIAN PIZZA DOUGH
Makes 5 dough balls 255g (10-12 inch pizzas) or 4 dough balls 320g (12-14 inch pizzas)
780g (6 ½ cups) 00 Flour* 98.99%
Caputo Pizzeria or 50/50 blend of Caputo Classica and Caputo Chef’s Flour
8g (2 teaspoons) Malted Barley Flour* 1.01%
12g (1 tablespoon) Baker’s Special Dry Milk* 1.46%
22g (4 ½ teaspoons) Fine Sea Salt 2.79%
2.4g (¾ teaspoons) Instant Dry Yeast 0.003%
116g (4 ounces) 110-115°F Water 14.72%
349g (12 ounces) 40°F Water 44.28%
15g (1 tablespoon) Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1.90%
* See source links below recipe.
- Heat 116g (4 ounces) of water to 110-115°F (I use gallon containers of spring water, which I keep in the refrigerator at 40°F. 116g (4 ounces) of water at 40°F, in a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup, heats to 110-115°F in 30 seconds in my 1600 watt microwave). Use a thermometer to check the temperature.
- Mix the 2.4g (¾ teaspoons) of Instant Dry Yeast into the hot water (directly in the measuring cup).
- Put the 00 Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Baker’s Special Dry Milk, and Fine Sea Salt into a mixing bowl. Mix the dry ingredients for one minute with a whisk or the mixing paddle on a stand mixer.
- Add the 348g (12 ounces) of 40°F Water and the 15g (1 tablespoon) of Extra Virgin Olive Oil into the measuring cup with the hot Water and Instant Dry Yeast. Mix with the whisk.
- Add the Water/Instant Dry Yeast/Extra Virgin Olive Oil mixture into the mixing bowl of dry ingredients while mixing with your hand or with the stand mixer with a mixing paddle on the lowest speed. Mix for 2-3 minutes by hand or one minute with a stand mixer (you’re done mixing when there are no dry particles of flour in the bowl).
- Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap, or a damp towel, and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
- Put the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for 2-3 minutes or put the kneading hook on the stand mixer and knead for one minute on the second speed.
Cover the dough in the mixing bowl with the plastic wrap, or a damp towel, and let it rise for 90 minutes at room temperature.
- Divide the dough into 4 or 5 equal pieces. Shape the dough into balls and place them into lightly oiled individual 2 quart containers or onto baking sheets, leaving a few inches between each. Place the containers or baking sheets into the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Take the containers or baking sheets out of the refrigerator and put the lids on the containers or cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap.
- Place the containers or baking sheets into the refrigerator and let them proof for 24-36 hours.
- Remove the containers or baking sheets from the refrigerator two hours before making pizza.
Note: For same-day pizza dough, reduce the yeast to 0.8g (1/4 teaspoon), eliminate the 15 minutes of refrigeration in Step 8 and leave the pizza dough at room temperature about 6 hours after Step 9.
You can replace the Baker's Special Dry Milk with another 4g (1 teaspoon) of Malted Barley Flour but the dough will be a little sticky. You can also leave out both the Malted Barley Flour and Baker's Special Dry Milk, but the crust will be take longer to brown.
This dough is too stiff to knead on a tilt-head stand mixer.
Makes enough for 5 pizzas 10-12 inches or 4 pizzas 12-14 inches.
Classic Italian Pizza sauce is usually just tomatoes and salt. I add a little spice to compliment the tomatoes. Leave them out or change them as you wish.
400g (14 ounces) can Italian Passata (tomato puree)*
5g (I teaspoon) Fine Sea Salt
2g (1 teaspoon) Granulated Onion
2g (1 teaspoon) Granulated Garlic
2g (1 teaspoon) Black Pepper
Mix all the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl just before you’re ready to make pizza. Adjust or eliminate the spices to taste. The sauce can be refrigerated, but should be at room temperature when making pizza.
* Passata is product made by pureeing and straining tomatoes, giving you a slightly thicker, uncooked tomato sauce.
Makes enough for 5 pizzas 10-12 inches or 4 pizzas 12-14 inches.
900g (32 ounces) Whole Milk Low Moisture Mozzarella Cheese
Shred the cheese through the large holes of a box grater or food processor.
450g (16 ounces) Pre-Sliced Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
- Cover a rimmed half-size baking sheet with 3 layers of paper towels.
- Place the cheese slices on the paper towels in a layer.
- Cover the cheese slice with another 3 layers of paper towels.
- Place another half-size baking on top of the paper towels.
- Remove the baking sheets and cheese from the refrigerator. Cut the cheese slices into sticks about 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch (you want the ends to be square).
450g (16 ounces) Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
Pull pieces of mozzarella from the ball by pinching the skin. Place the skin side down on the pizza.
MAKING CLASSIC ITALIAN STYLE PIZZA
Makes enough for 5 pizzas 10-12 inches or 4 pizzas 12-14 inches
4 or 5 Classic Italian Pizza Dough Balls
411g (14 ½ ounces) Italian Pizza Sauce
900g (32 ounces) Pizza Cheese or
120g (1 cup) 00 Pizza Flour
120g (1 cup) Semolina Flour
Fresh Basil, Dried Oregano, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Fresh Peppers, Crushed Red Pepper and Mushrooms as desired (Italian Sausage needs to be cooked before using for pizza topping).
- Assemble 450g (16 ounces) of Pre-Sliced Fresh Mozzarella onto the baking sheets and paper towels as detailed in the instructions above and place into the refrigerator 3 hours before serving pizza.
- Place the BakePlate into the oven on a rack set about 5 inches below the top of the oven (the second slot from the top on my oven). The surface of the BakePlate should be about 3½ inches below the top of the oven. Pre-heat the oven and BakePlate for at least 1½ hours at 525°F before baking pizza.
- Take the dough balls out of the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature 2 hours before serving pizza.
- Mix 120g (1 cup) of 00 Pizza Flour and 120g (1 cup) of Semolina Flour together into a 2 quart container about 7” in diameter to use for dusting (you can substitute with120g (1 cup) of All Purpose Flour and 120g (1 cup) of Corn Meal but it’s less Italian, don’t use the VanEsch Pizza Mix, it will burn).
- Make the Pizza Sauce and leave at room temperature ½ hour before serving pizza.
- Grate 450g (16 ounces) of Whole Milk Low Moisture Mozzarella as detailed in the instructions above.
- If the dough balls are in individual containers, remove the cover and tip one into the dusting flour. If the dough balls are on baking sheets, use a spatula to remove the dough ball and place it into the dusting flour. Using your fingers, gently flip the dough ball in the dusting flour so each side is lightly covered with flour.
- Place the dough ball smooth side down onto a lightly floured work surface. The side of the dough ball that was the top while proofing, should be the bottom of the pizza. Starting at the center, push down with your fingertips and begin flattening the dough ball. Leave a rim about ½” wide around the outside.
- After flattening the dough ball, pick the dough ball up on the backs of your fingers and begin stretching the dough. Concentrate on stretching the outside, don’t worry about the center. If you hold the dough up to a light, you can gauge the thickness and see where you need to stretch to even it out. After dough is stretched to the correct size, place it on a lightly dusted pizza peel.
- Spread 80-100g (4-5 tablespoons) of Pizza Sauce onto the dough, starting in the center an working in a circular pattern with the back of a spoon. Spread the sauce out to the inside rim of the dough.
- Sprinkle 180-225g (6-8 ounces) of cheese over the sauce. The sauce does not need to be completely covered with cheese, especially with the Fresh Mozzarella. It’s okay if some of the sauce is showing through the cheese.
- Place any optional topping on top of the cheese.
- Turn the oven off then turn the broiler on (High if there is an option). Wait for the boiler to turn on.
- Give the pizza peel a little shake to make sure the dough isn’t sticking, then place the pizza onto the BakePlate.
- After 1 ½ minutes, using the pizza peel, rotate the pizza ¼ turn.
- The first pizza should be done in 2½ to 3½ minutes. The next pizza is going to take a little longer.
- Turn off the broiler and turn the oven on at 550°F while you make the next pizza.
PIZZA MAKING STRATEGY
When you start cooking pizza on the BakePlate or PizzaPlate, the first thing to finish cooking is the bottom of the crust and the last thing to finish cooking is the top of the crust. As you cook pizza, heat is lost from the Plate into the pizza, so the bottom of the crust starts to take more time. You can cook multiple pizzas, but you need to make adjustments. Whole Milk Low Moisture Mozzarella cooks faster than Fresh Mozzarella, but Whole Milk Low Moisture Mozzarella has a much longer holding time than Fresh Mozzarella. My first pizza is usually made with Whole Milk Low Moisture Mozzarella. My second pizza is usually made with Fresh Mozzarella.
After the second pizza you need to be a little more attentive to what’s going on in your oven. The bottom of the pizza is going to be the last thing to finish cooking, so you may need to turn off the broiler to keep the top from burning before the bottom is done. Unfortunately, broiler response time is slow. I find a ¾ size rimmed baking sheet (Chicago Metallic 41500) very handy. If the top of the pizza is done before the bottom, you can open the oven and place the baking sheet upside down over the pizza, shielding it from the heat until the broiler turns off. On the flip side, if the bottom of the pizza is done but the top need more time, you can lift the pizza with your peel, place the baking sheet upside down on the Plate, then put your pizza on the baking sheet under the broiler.
Every oven/broiler combination is different. You may need to raise the oven rack if the tops of your pizzas are undercooked, or lower the oven rack if they are getting overcooked. You can make this adjustment the next time you make pizza. DO NOT RAISE OR LOWER A HOT BAKEPLATE, STONE OR STEEL!