Classic Pizza Margherita
(Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Pizza)
Thin, crisp crusts like this one are the hallmarks of much Italy's pizza.
Another vital element is not overloading the pie with toppings - less is definitely
more on pizza. This dough goes together quickly and can be used after a single rising.
If time is very short, blend, knead, rest for 30 minutes, and roll out. No baking
stone is needed, since you slip the crust out of the pan and crisp it directly on
the bottom rack of the oven during the last two minutes of baking. Use stone-ground,
organic flour if possible.
Neapolitan Style Pizza Crust
- Generous 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (about 100 degrees F)
- 1 teaspoon all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 to 1 1/4 cups organic, stone ground all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Additional flour
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, minced
- 1 sprig parsley, chopped
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
- 1 1/2 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes
- 1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn
- 3 ounces fresh mozzarella (in liquid), thinly sliced
- 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly-ground black pepper
- Neapolitan Style Pizza Crust: In a medium mixing bowl or food processor, blend
yeast, water and teaspoon of flour. Foam should form on surface in about 8 minutes
(if not, yeast is past its prime; find fresher).
- Blend in rest of flour and
salt, forming a smooth, quite soft, slightly sticky dough. Blend in food processor
no more than 30 seconds (then knead 5 minutes by hand); in mixer blend for about
5 minutes; by hand stir to blend and knead 5 minutes.
- Place in a large oiled bowl, cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand in a cool
place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours). If not ready to bake, keep dough
covered and hold up to 8 hours.
- About 20 minutes before baking, punch down, knead
a minute or two and then form into a ball, cover.
- To make pizza, lightly oil a 14- to 16-inch pizza pan. Heat oven to 500 degrees
F, setting rack as low as possible in oven.
- Roll out dough as thin as possible to
about a 16-inch round (no more than 1/16-inch thick). Spread over pan, rolling in
edges to form a rim. Let rest 10 minutes.
- Top as desired or suggested below and bake for 10 minutes.
- Using a spatula
and thick oven mitt, slip the pizza off the pan directly onto the oven rack by pulling
out rack, grasping pizza pan firmly with protected hand, and using spatula or pancake
turner to slip pie off pan and onto rack. Slide rack back in place and bake 2 minutes.
Slip pie back onto pan, remove from oven. Cut and serve.
- Margherita Topping: In a 10-inch skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium high.
Sauté onion and parsley to golden, then stir in garlic and oregano for a few seconds.
Add tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pan (do not substitute crushed tomatoes).
Boil, stirring, 5 minutes or until thick.
- Spread sauce over rolled out crust, sprinkle with basil, mozzarella, and finally
the oil. Finish with generous black pepper and a little salt. Bake as directed above.
This makes one 14- to 16-inch pizza; serving 4 to 6.
Variation: In Naples, fresh or canned tomatoes often replace tomato sauce on
pizza. Make sure tomatoes have big, rich flavor and use them judiciously.
More Variations: Use any of the following flavorings sparingly, but only enough
to flavor, not overwhelm: Sliced red onion, pitted olives, pepperoni, anchovy, sliced
mushrooms, steamed broccoli or cauliflower, salami, prosciutto, roasted peppers,
shrimp, cooked Italian sausage, hot pepper, fresh herbs such as marjoram, oregano,
mint, garlic, rosemary or sage. For "Americanized" pizza, use tandoori
marinated chicken breasts, oven roasted vegetables, salsa and anything else you