Sunday, 30 May 2010

Pizza Napoletana – May’s Fresh from the Oven Challenge.



I know this post is slightly later than expected, but having been away with 58 Year 6s for 8 days in Liege, I think I can be forgiven for not writing in the last week or so. Anyway, during that time, I realised I should have already posted my entry to this month’s Fresh from the Oven challenge, hosted by Lauren from Coffee Muffins. So, upon returning, decided that it would be better late than never, so got on with the initial stage of dough making. The recipe is taken from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice and makes 6 9-12 inch pizzas so the recipe below has the amount for 1/3 quantities given in brackets.

  • 4 1/2 cups or 20.25 ounces (6.75 ounces) of unbleached high-gluten bread flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons or 0.44 ounces (0.14 ounces) of salt
  • 1 teaspoon or 0.11 ounces (1/3 tsp) of instant yeast (if using active dry yeast you will need to increase this by 25%)
  • 1/4 cup or 2 ounces (0.67 ounces) of olive or vegetable oil, optional
  • 1 3/4 cups or 14 ounces (4.67 ounces) of ice cold water

Stir together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a large bowl. Then stir in the oil and water until all the flour is absorbed. Mix by either hand or a mixer with dough hooks and you should end up with a smooth dough which is a little sticky. It should clear the sides of the bowl but not the bottom. If it isn't clearing the sides then add a little more flour and mix again. If it clears the bottom then add a couple of drops of water, and mix again. This was a tip I hadn’t heard before, but worked a treat.


The finished dough should be springy, elastic and sticky but not tacky. If you use a thermometer it should register somewhere between 50 to 55 oF.

Now prepare a sheet pan with baking parchment and spray oil. Flour your counter and remove the dough on to the counter. Using a metal dough scraper (or your hands) create 6 equals sized pieces of dough. Or 2 if you’re using third quantities.

Flour your hands and shape each into a ball, if your hands stick add more flour and try again. Place each ball onto your sheet pan, spray each piece of dough with oil. Once all pieces of dough are on the tray, enclose it in a food-grade bag and pop it into the fridge, or spray the inside of separate bags and place one ball in each.


The next day, a couple of hours before you want to cook them, remove the dough from the fridge. Dust your counter with flour (and your hands) then spray oil on top. Place each ball on the counter and gently press each into a flat disc about 1/2 inch thick. Top each with a little flour and oil and cover with another bag. Let rest for 2 hours.


At least 45 minutes before cooking put on your oven on at it's maximum temperature up to 800oF. If you have a baking stone put it in the oven now. If you don't have a stone then you can use a normal baking sheet, just don't preheat it first.

Now comes the tricky part: stretching out your dough, dust your peel or sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal. Coat your hands in flour including the backs and your knuckles. Gently lay the dough on to the top of your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion. As it starts to spread out you can move to the full toss method. If it sticks to your hands at any point lay it out flat and re-dust your hands, continue stretching until it is the desired width.


Once you have reached the desired width, place the stretched dough on the peel or baking sheet, top with your preferred ingredients and flavours (I made a tomato frito to use as the tomato base, then topped with thinly sliced chorizo and cheddar cheese), and transfer the pizza to your oven.


It should only take between 8 and 10 minutes to cook. You might want to turn it 180 degrees after 2 minutes, if you think it might over cook on one side.


Despite the oven being on its hottest, my dough was, unfortunately, not cooked properly in the middle, while the topping was bubbling and close to burning. I covered the tops and left them in for another 5 mins or so, but couldn’t quite get it right. Like I said, it may have been to do with the oven not being hot enough, or the fact I topped them, then waited 15 minutes before putting them into the oven, so the base had the chance to get a bit soggy. Whatever the reason, the pizza was still tasty, with crispy, crunchy edges, and I’ve eaten worse than uncooked dough!  

     SDC12272  SDC12276

Jules is posting the round-up shortly, so don’t forget to go Fresh from the Oven to check it out.


  1. I could imagine a great game of working out what countries your pizzas could be! This recipe makes for non round bases doesn't it? I think I may get one of those holey metal pizza cooking things to get a super crispy base if I try this again.

  2. Nice--your pizzas look lovely. I really like the rustic shapes. :)

  3. Rustic shapes more by chnace - couldn't get them round!


Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!
Merlotti x

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