Fear Not the Pizza Dough

I married a New Yorker and for 26 years I’ve been listening to his claims that one can only get good pizza in New York City. And I will say, there is some truth to that statement. I personally vote for the pizza at Mack & Manco on the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey. Whenever I go back to the Jersey shore, I make it a point to make a pit stop there and indulge my need for cheese and dough. Nothing is quite as nostalgic as salt air and fresh, hot, tomatoey pizza. So, in my mind pizza dough was something mere mortals like myself could never recreate. Would I be brazen enough to attempt such a feat. I think so. I’ve done everything else with dough, why not pizza.  I’m here to tell you that pizza is now a permanent feature in my repertoire.

I’ve had the pizza at several of Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants, and I love it. Especially the dough. So, when I decided to try my hand at making homemade pizza I went to one of his recipes. It’s really very easy to make, if you make it with love. There’s somewhat of a time commitment with the two risings, but you can bake some off now, and wrap the rest up to bake off the next day. The truth is, I like my homemade pizza so much, I never order delivery pizza anymore.

My kids like their pizza with marinara sauce on it, but I like to brush my dough with a mixture of olive oil, minced garlic and red pepper flakes because it let’s the other ingredients you place on it shine through.  This particular pizza uses pancetta (an Italian bacon, and what’s not good with bacon on it), Fontina, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, and sliced Shitake and Baby Bella mushrooms. It’s really a very tasty combination.

My suggestion to anyone deciding to make their own pizza at home is to purchase a pizza stone if you don’t already have one. It makes an absolute difference in the final product. The pizza stone makes the crust incredibly crispy and there is your key to a successful pizza. You can pick one up at Target starting at about $15.00 or any cooking supply store. In the recipe below I say you can use a cookie sheet with parchment, but if you have a pizza stone then that’s what you should use.

Pizza Dough

From Wolfgang Puck, “Pizza, Pasta & More”

Makes 4 small pizzas

1 package active dry yeast

1 teaspoon honey

1 cup warm water 105 to 115 degrees F

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and honey in 1/4 cup warm water.

In a food processor, combine the flour and salt. Add the oil, the yeast mixture, and the remaining 3/4 cup of warm water and process until the mixture forms a ball. The dough can also be made in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low-speed until the mixture comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand 2 or 3 minutes longer. The dough should be smooth and firm. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel and let it rise in a cool spot for about 2 hours.

Divide the dough into 4 balls. Work each ball by pulling down the sides and tucking under the bottom of the ball. Repeat 4 or 5 times. Then on a smooth, unfloured surface, roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the top of the dough is smooth and firm, about 1 minute. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest 1 hour. At this point, the balls of dough can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

I make 4 small pizzas, but you can make 2 larger ones if your oven will accommodate the larger size.

Baby Bella & Shitake Mushrooms

For 1 Pancetta, Mushroom, Cheese  Pizza

1/4 olive oil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup grated Fontina cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Baby Bella (crimini) and Shitake mushrooms thinly sliced

4-5 slices (very thin) of pancetta

Parmesan, Fontina & Mozzarella Cheese

In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, red pepper flakes and minced garlic together and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.  Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

I roll out my dough into a rectangle, or you can do a circular shape. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush the surface of the dough with the oil mixture leaving a 1/2″ border.   Sprinkle the cheeses over the dough, the mushrooms, then lay the pancetta slices on top.

Bake the pizzas until the crust is a nice golden brown and all the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.

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8 Comments on “Fear Not the Pizza Dough”

  1. wanda says:

    Hi Sheryl,
    Can we get Neil’s input on the pizza?
    If it taste as good as it looks, WINNER! LOL
    Such creativity in your writing. Always looking forward to seeing a new recipe.

  2. Beth says:

    I see a trip to Target for a pizza stone in the near future – and I even have a gift card to use!!!

  3. Kim Demshki says:

    Yummmmy ….. sounds muy delicioso! Can’t wait to re-create this fabulous dish. I think I’ll invite Snooki and the “Situation” for a quick bite, yah?

  4. Carol says:

    sheryl – this better be on the menu next time I visit LA! This looks delicious – all my favorite flavors!

  5. Eftychia says:

    This pizza looks delicious! Thanks for sharing!

  6. chowgals says:

    Was just looking through your blog — my fav pizza is Mack and Manco as well! My family has a house in OC, NJ :)

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