Who knew that such a small tweak to my usual pizza recipe could make such a difference? Apparently, Mario Batali did.
Years ago, on a whim, I bought this kind of pizza griddle made by the Batali line of cookware, more for the pretty way it looked than anything else. I used it a few times, shoving it in the oven, generally unimpressed at the results. If it came with instructions, I clearly didn’t read them as I am known to do. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I was reading about different methodologies of making pizza at home. By now, you all know how obsessed I am with pizza and with trying to have the real thing whenever possible. It turns out that the pizza griddle I own was never meant to be put in the oven but, rather, used to par-bake the dough on the stove and then top it and finish the pizza under the broiler. Why didn’t I think of it?
I took up the challenge and made my usual dough. I let it rest in the fridge overnight and then I rolled it very thin. I heated the griddle on the stove for a few minutes and I par-baked the dough until it started to bubble and get brown splotches here and there.
I then slid it on a pizza peel and topped it with my homemade sauce and fresh mozzarella. In it went under the broiler (about 4 to 6” from the heat) and, in about 3 minutes, I had a pizza that very much resembled one from a wood burning oven. I swear. The crust was charred in places, the mozzarella had melted in pretty pools and it was thin with a bit of bite to the outsides. It was so good I had one and a half pizzas – 10” round….I am never going back to baking pizza in a 500 degrees oven or using a pizza stone. Try it and see if I am lying. And why didn’t I think of it?
DOUGH RECIPE – yields 3 10” pizzas
I like to use a combination of bread and AP flour to get more gluten in the dough but if you only have AP handy, it’s fine (if you are in Europe, use 00).
1 1/2 packets of dry yeast
1 cup AP Flour
1 1/2 cup Bread Flour
1 1/2 ts Salt
1 T Honey
1 T Olive Oil
- Place the yeast and 1/4 C of lukewarm water in the bowl of a standing mixer and let sit for about 5 minutes, until the yeast appears bubbly or creamy.
- Add the olive oil, the honey, half the 2 flours combined and the salt. Using a dough hook attachment mix until combined. Add the rest of the flour and let knead for about 5 minutes. The dough should come together, detaching from the sides of the bowl. If it appears too wet or too dry, adjust accordingly by adding more flour or water.
- I make my dough in the mixer because I am lazy and because it works well but it can obviously be done by hand in a bowl, using a wooden spoon to get all the ingredients together and then kneading on a floured board for 10 minutes (it’s a good work-out).
- Once the dough looks done, transfer it from the mixer to a slightly floured board and knead with your hands for a few minutes. You will know the dough is ready when, if lightly pressed with a finger, it springs back, leaving no mark.
- Either let it rest in an oiled bowl, under a cotton cloth for 90 minutes to two hours or place it in the refrigerator overnight, on an oiled cookie sheet. Brush an “x” with olive oil on top and cover it loosely with plastic.
- When you take it out of the refrigerator, let it rest for a few minutes or it will be too hard to stretch. Then divide it into three and stretch it very think with your hands or using a rolling-pin.
GENERIC PIZZA TIPS
- I like to make my own sauce, not spicy but rather tomatoey so it won’t overpower the other ingredients (I only put onion, carrot, olive oil, canned tomatoes, salt and pepper and then blend smoothly once cooked).
- Don’t overload the pizza with sauce or it will get soggy.
- Use fresh mozzarella or, even better, buffalo mozzarella. Slice it and place it here and there – Italian pizza is not covered with cheese.
- Any fresh ingredients such as basil, arugula, prosciutto etc. are added once the pizza comes out of the oven.
- In the absence of a Batali griddle, any other griddle or a cast iron pan will probably do. Let me know.