Margherita Pizza

dough ingredients:
500 grams bread flour (or all purpose flour)
325 grams water (65% hydration)
7 grams salt
7 grams yeast

olive oil
fine chopped garlic
whole mozzarella cheese
tomato slices
fresh basil leaves
grated Parmigiano Reggiano
salt and pepper

other tools and ingredients:
digital kitchen scale that can weigh in grams
baking stone
pizza peel
cornmeal (or for more challenge just use a tiny bit of flour)
stainless steel mixing bowl
plastic wrap for covering

Add the yeast to the bottom of a large stainless steel mixing bowl, then the water, then the flour, then the salt.  Use a fork to mix the ingredients well, so all flour particles come into some contact with water. Knead into a ball for a few minutes. Excess kneading is unnecessary and dries out the dough. Instead of kneading, this recipe uses time to achieve a great dough. Sprinkle a few drops of water onto the dough, then let it sit for many hours covered (at least 3 hrs if you are in a rush), or ideally overnight! Colder kitchens will work but are not best for this, so warm your kitchen to 70ish degrees. This dough can make two 14”, three 11”, or four mini pizzas depending on your needs. Refrigerate if needed, well covered, and it will become even better for up to a week. If using a refrigerated dough, take it out of the refrigerator hours ahead of time so it becomes room temperature. Minimally re-knead it to get the puffy risen dough back into a ball shape. Once a ball, flip it and let it sit again as it comes to room temperature and rises a little more. Proof! Is the dough ball risen, room temperature, and ready to go? Time to preheat the home oven, prepare the toppings, and form some dough into a pizza!

Place the baking stone into a cold oven on the center rack. Turn the oven on to 550° which is usually the highest setting. If you are lucky and have a real pizza oven that goes above 550° cook time will be shortened. Prepare all toppings at this time so when it comes time to build the pizza the topping process goes quick! The pizza does not like to sit around bored while being topped because it might stick to the pizza peel. When the oven is ready use a pinch of extra flour for your hands and shape some of the dough into a pizza. Lightly punch down in the center to get it started, then work the edges to make it even. Toss the dough, use a roller, or just do it by hand. The goal is a thin crust that light can pass through without any tearing, a.k.a. window paning. It’s time to prepare the pizza peel!

Sprinkle corn meal (and/or a tiny pinch of flour) onto the pizza peel and lay the flattened dough onto it. Apply toppings possibly in this order: olive oil, fine chopped garlic, mozzarella, tomatoes, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, a few more drops of olive oil, and optional salt ‘n pepper. Slip the pizza onto the baking stone and bake it for 9 or 10 minutes or until it has a  few good dark spots on the bottom. Remove the pizza onto a slicing surface then garnish it with the fresh basil using the chiffonade method. Add some more fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Cool the pie down for 5 minutes before slicing to make the slices’ edges look neat. Serve with water, IPA or red wine. Enjoy!

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