I was invited to a friend’s New Year’s Eve party this weekend (the same one, for those paying attention, to which I brought these lovely champagne cupcakes), and the marquee item on the menu was Neapolitan-style pizza. Let me tell you, folks, it was a wonder to behold.
I don’t know how many of you are pizza lovers like me, but I’d be willing to bet there are a lot of us. Everyone has their own preference on how they like their pizza (and there is no right or wrong answer to this, of course :)), but I personally love the thin crust Neapolitan-style. Nothing too fancy–some tomato sauce, good cheese, and of course, good dough. The key is in the dough, people. And more importantly, the key is in getting the dough to have that characteristic thin/crispy/tender texture that has you dreaming of walking the old streets of Napoli, listening to a mandolin serenading you…
But I digress.
As I said, it’s about the dough, and getting it to have that “perfect” texture. After observing my friend make several pizzas that night (and boy, did he crank out a lot!), I learned a few tricks that I can’t wait to try:
- Gluten is good. Ok, unfortunately, it isn’t good for those with gluten sensitivity :(. But to get the kind of magic consistency I talked about above, you do need a higher-than-normal gluten content in the flour you use. You can achieve this by using bread flour or, if you really want to go the extra mile, “00” flour.
- Heat is your friend. My friend had quite a creative way of achieving the heat that one would get only from a brick pizza oven: he used the self-clean cycle on his oven. No joke, this sure got the temps up there to what he termed as “nuclear” (which is about 700 degrees or so, if you’re measuring). 450-500 degrees is probably hot enough, though–just don’t forget to watch your smoke alarm :).
- Pizza stone, ftw! I have a pizza stone. Or rather, I had one. I tried to use it once and got disastrous results when my dough stuck to the paddle, and I failed to slide it onto the pizza stone. It was not pretty. However, my friend taught me a trick to this, too: dust the paddle with cornmeal, and the dough will slide right off. Easy enough, no?
I’ve now reclaimed my pizza stone from my mother (who had been keeping it for me this entire time, since I didn’t want it around as evidence of my pizza disaster–who needs that infamy hanging over her head?), and armed with these newly discovered secrets, I’m eager to try my hand at perfecting my pizza. I’d managed to make a pretty decent pizza even without the above tips, but now I think I can take it to the next level. We shall see.
Hey, as long as I don’t set off the fire alarm, I’ll consider it a success ;).
Pictures to come in the next few weeks, stay tuned…