Every self-respecting Italian pizza is made from dough that was made the day before. The long rise brings out flavors in the dough that aren’t there when fresh, and allows the dough to be pulled amazingly thin. What’s changed is the gluten – the protein in the dough that allows the stretch.
To see the difference, I made pizza two days in a row: Quick and Delicious Pan Pizza one day and this one the next. The recipes, except for the amount of yeast, are the same. The end results were remarkably different. While the Q and D pizza was good in a big, fresh yeasty way, the Pizza Time Pizza crust developed a chewy pull with a thin, crispy outer layer. No smell of yeast lingered; it had given way to a slight nuttiness.
Don’t let the simplicity of this recipe fool you. Make the dough the day before, stick it in the fridge overnight and bake your pizzas directly on quarry tiles or a pizza stone. And smile, because you’ve made a pizza that can stand with the best of them.
Right then, let’s make pizza!
Pizza Time Pizza
24-hour rise dough
Makes 5 – 12” pizzas
4 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (23 oz by weight)
2 cups water at 100º
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup extra flour for benchwork
Olive oil for mixing bowl
15 ounces Contadina pizza sauce
8 ounces no-salt tomato sauce
16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
Salami, pepperoni, black olives, mushrooms, anchovies, red peppers as desired
Oregano for sprinkling
6 quarry tiles or a pizza stone
Make the dough: Dry mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large bread bowl. Add 1½ cups of the water and, using the handle of a wooden spoon as a stirrer, mix and scrape down the sides toward the center to incorporate. Pour the rest of the water around the sides and over the flour, pull towards the center again with the wooden handle to make a ball. Scrape the bowl with a plastic scraper or spatula to get all the bits.
Knead the dough: Turn the dough ball out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 10 minutes, using small amounts of flour as needed to keep the ball from sticking. Using the palm of your hand, thrust downward to develop the gluten as you knead.
Long rising: Clean and dry the mixing bowl. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons olive oil into the bowl, put in the doughball an turn to coat. Cover with a piece of plastic and a towel.
Since this dough is going to sit overnight, you have to think just a little about your options. You can put it into your refrigerator, providing it’s no colder than 40º. If the outdoor temperature overnight is in the 40-50º range, you can put it out in a cooler. I put mine in my basement garage last night where the temperature was about 48º, with good results. The trick here is that the dough has to be cold enough to retard fermentation without stopping it altogether.
About 6 hours before dinnertime, take the bowl out of your cold environment and set it somewhere that’s a bit colder than room temperature. I have a workspace in my basement that is suitable for this, where the environment is about 60º.
About 3 hours before dinnertime, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes to degas. The dough should feel cold. Return it to the bowl for further proofing.
Making the pizzas
- About 1 hour before you will be baking your pizzas, divide the dough into 5 equal pieces. Press lightly to remove some of the gas, and form into balls. Space a few inches apart on a lightly floured surface and cover with a cloth topped with plastic wrap.
- Okay, now we’re cookin’. We’ve got the dough balls resting, just like in a real pizza place. I just put on some Italian music and my kids are looking at me funny. It gets better from here: we’re going to turn the whole place into a pizza kitchen.
- Put the pizza stone or the quarry tiles on a center rack and preheat your oven to 475º. Mix the two cans of sauce together in a bowl and have the other toppings handy. You’ll need something to ‘slip’ the pizzas into the oven, and now is a good time to figure that out. I have wooden peels, but thin cookie sheets or 12”x18” pieces of thin plywood would work as well.
- Take two dough balls out and spread them with your fingers into 6” discs (don’t use a rolling pin for this – it squeezes too much air out of the dough). Sprinkle some flour onto the top and let them rest for a minute or two.
- Spread the discs out farther with your fingers. Now, pick each one up and, draping it over your hands, stretch it from the middle and out to the edge. Run the rim through the gap formed by your thumbs. If one spot in the dough becomes translucent, it is getting too thin. You should end up with a ‘pizza blank’ 12” in diameter, which is the largest our quarry tiles can handle.
- If you have some bread flour, durum flour or semolina, these are the best flours to put on the peels, cookie sheets or plywood to allow the pizzas to ‘slip’ into the oven. There’s nothing worse than creating a beautiful pizza only to watch it collapse onto itself as you try to get it off the peel. Lightly coat your peel (if using all-purpose flour, put on a little extra and it will work fine) and put the pizza blank onto it. Push it once to make sure it slips before continuing.
- If you like, drizzle a bit of good olive oil on the pizza blank. Spoon half a cup of sauce onto each pizza, and top each with 4 ounces of cheese. Distribute other toppings as you prefer either under or over the cheese. Sprinkle with oregano.
- Slip one pizza directly onto the quarry tiles or pizza stone and bake for 5 minutes. Turn the pizza around with a metal spatula, and cook for a further 3 minutes. Baking times vary depending on toppings and your oven.
- Congratulations! You have made some fine pizza. To make it even better, you can change the sauce or use your imagination when garnishing with toppings. Enjoy!