I recently was making homemade pizza with my family in Maine. No big deal, right? Well, my boyfriend Facetimed me as we were finishing our little creations, and started getting really serious, asking relentlessly about the crust, consistency of sauce, and even the type of toppings we chose.
He divulged that he worked at a pizza shop in high school for 3 years, where he honed his pizza making skills and more importantly, his love for concocting the perfect pizza. I could tell as his voice was quivering with joy and some drool began to form, that he was more than just a connoisseur. He was a full blown pizza extremist*, and today he’s sharing his secrets with us to craft the most delectable Italian-inspired dish topped with cheesy, tomatoey goodness. Read on…
Tip #1: If you’re not using self rising flour, you’re not in the game
Tip #2: The dough is the most important part, then the sauce.
Tip #3: The sauce has to have a strong consistency.
*”The best pizza in the world is Naples, Italy. I only had two days in Italy and I took a train all the way to Naples and walked through several back alleys to go to a pizza shop. I was first in line to get seated.” – Michael
Anyways, Mike’s invasive questions about our pizza party made me laugh, and I hope you were able to find some humor in it too. Although his tips aren’t too profound, I’m just going off of a few texts from him before his phone died. So as soon as his battery is back up, I’ll ask more strategic questions to get to the bottom of what it really takes to make a pizza truly special.
Here’s my brother’s recipe…I hope you enjoy. It was amazing!!
Garlic Butter Recipe:
Fresh Garlic, at least 2 entire Bulbs (3 for stronger flavor)
1 stick (8 T) softened salted butter (e.g. Kerrygold)
1T olive oil
(Seasoning amounts are estimated. I add them to taste, feel free to do the same.)
-1 1/2t Paprika
-1 1/2t Italian herb mix
-1/2t Oregano (optional)
-1/2t Parsley (optional)
-Pepper to taste
-1t Lemon juice (optional)
Prepare in small electric food processor / chopper.
Soften butter at room temperature before mixing for best results.
Peel garlic cloves then chop in food processor.
Add oil, seasonings, and half of the butter to processor and mix thoroughly.
Add remaining butter and keep mixing until you have a smooth, uniform spread.
Store in refrigerator or freezer.
Pizza Dough Recipe:
Yields 4 12″ pizza crusts (~250g each)
625g bread flour (e.g. King Arthur brand)
12g sugar and/or honey (e.g. 8g honey, 4g sugar)
31g olive oil
1 small pinch Active Dry Yeast (e.g. Fleischmanns brand)
At least 1 day before cooking, prepare in large covered bowl or pot with lid (e.g. stainless steel). Rising dough triples in size!
These instructions are for mixing by hand.
Start with a poolish, which is a wet fermentation of flour, water, and yeast. It adds flavor and texture to the dough.
Add 300g water, 300g flour, and yeast* to bowl.
*Very little yeast is required, and too much can result in over-rising dough.
Mix thoroughly with spoon, 1-2 minutes. Scrape remainder stuck to spoon back into bowl.
Cover bowl and let sit at room temperature at least 8 hours.
Add to bowl: remaining water (56g), 100g flour, and all other ingredients (salt, sugar, oil).
Mix with spoon until poolish loosens and mixes with everything else, about 1-2 minutes.
Add remainder of flour (225g) in batches of 75-100g at a time, mixing with spoon between batches.
When dough is too thick to mix with spoon, add all remaining flour and thoroughly mix by hand, about 15-20 minutes.
Keep stretching and folding the dough on top of itself (but do not tear) when mixing.
Dough may be sticky, but try to mix as much as possible, adding 1-3T extra flour only as necessary.
Form into ball, place in covered bowl, and let sit at room temperature overnight (or 1-3 days in fridge) before cooking.
Spread thin layer of flour (1-2T) on aluminum foil or countertop.
Tear dough into 4 250g dough balls (for 12″ pizza crusts) and place them on floured surface.
Cover dough balls with flour, and with dry hands, gently flatten and spread them into round crusts. Add more flour if dough becomes tacky.
Cook on lightly greased aluminum foil (12″ square sheets) in 460 degree oven, preferably on a preheated cast iron pan or pizza stone.