Rich's Pugh's Margherita Pizza from scratch (mostly) WITHOUT a dough mixer.
I wont give you the exact secret dough recipe because it's one of those things I just refuse to do... LOL... but I'll do the best I can.
DOUGH: (Makes for three, 10" pizzas)
16oz King Arthur BREAD flour (or just about any flour with a gluten level around 13%)
70% (11.2oz) warm liquid mix (consisting of water and other liquids... water only is just fine)
2-1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1-3/4 tsp salt
With 11.2oz of warm water or liquid mix (around 100 degrees Fahrenheit) in a container, add 2-1/2 tsp of dry active yeast and wait for a few moments until you see some yeast activity, i.e., bubbles. Then, drop a pinch of flour into the liquid/yeast mix (just about a teaspoons worth, not enough to skew the ratios) and mix/stir until yeast granules are all or mostly all dissolved.
In a large bowl, add the 16oz of KA Bread flour and the 1-3/4 tsp of salt and dry mix. Dig a hole in the center of the dry flour/salt mix and gently pour in the liquid mix. Slowly mix in the flour, stirring in from the outside. After about 4 "stirs" it's beyond the point of delicate mixing... so just mix the crap out of it using a stiff spoon or something, trying to get all the residue off the bowl's sides and into the mix.
After it's just friggin' impossible to mix with a hand held utensil, dig it out and plop it on a lightly floured, clean countertop. Fold it over and knead with the heel of your palm, repeating this step while rotating the dough all the while. If it gets sticky, lightly sprinkle a pinch of flour on the dough ball and continue kneading for 10-12 min or until it is generally smooth and well kneaded.
Form it into a nice neat round ball, plop it into a lightly oiled bowl large enough to allow it to double in bulk (after rising) and let rise out on the counter for 1 hour, in the bowl, covered by a towel and maybe even a plate on top of the towel.
It will be twice its original size after about an hour so just gently dig it out of the bowl, plop it on a lightly floured countertop, knead a couple times to remove the large air pockets, separate into three 9-1/4oz-ish parts, ball those 3 individually, stick em on a lightly floured plate, sprinkle some flour on the tops of the 3 balls, cover with plastic wrap and let cold-rise overnight in the fridge (you might want to even put some plastic wrap between them so they dont rise into each other).
SAUCE: (makes enough for about nine, 10" pizzas and keeps in the fridge for about a week... so maybe make 3 batches of dough this week haha)
One 35oz can of Whole Peeled italian plum tomatos packed in basil and juice (San Marzanos or DOP SM is ideal but not imperative)
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A few fresh grinds of the pepper mill
A few pinches of sea salt
A few shakes of crushed red peppers (adjust to level of heat desired)
Forget seeding the tomatoes or anything... All together, in something like the Ninja Master Prep (which my girlfriend got for christmas and its awesome!) or a standard blender, processor or even with an immersion blender... simply "Blip" the processor momentarily several times to get the consistency of a sauce without chunks but with some tomato texture left. Do Not Cook this sauce. it will cook in the oven, ON the Pizza!
I have been using a small block of low moisture, part skim Mozzarella. I slice the block into 1/2" pieces, then cube those slices out into about 1/2" x 1/2" cubes, more or less. You can use fresh mozzarella that was packaged in water but you will want to dry the balls or pre-cut slices before you cube them and surely before you top your pizza and bake it.
The Cheese, The Sauce, EVOO, Sea Salt, Fresh Basil Leaves (no stems please!)
The most important thing is if youre putting the basil leaves on prior to baking (which I usually do), that you get them moist either with the tomato sauce and/or with a generous drizzle of the olive oil. This keeps the basil from burning in the oven.
Building the pizza for baking:
Bring the dough(s) out of the fridge maybe 30 minutes before youre ready to cook them to get to room temp. Take a "Ball" and plop it down on a lightly floured countertop and sprinkle a pinch of flour on the top too. "Punch" down the ball into a fat disk, leaving the edge of the disk shell with some thickness. You just want to either hand/finger press or fist press it flat and lightly spread the dough until you've reached about a diameter of a standard dinner plate.
Spoon on 3-4 tbsp of sauce and spoon spread it around the dough until its covered, leaving a halo for the crust. More of less sauce is personal preference.
Place the cheese on sparingly (I used a bit much on this one) and feel free to use shredded cheese as long as you dont completely opaque out the sauce with it.
Place a few fresh leaves of basil on top. Please no stems!
Drizzle a generous bit of EVOO all over the top of the pizza, except for the crust halo, making sure to get the basil leaves wet.
Sprinkle some sea salt on the entire pizza... just a pinch is ok.
In a crappy, 30 year old electric oven, crank that POS to 550 or as high as it gets, and if you dont have a pizza stone (which I do not) or a perforated pizza pan (which I am using here), you can use a pre-heated cookie sheet. In any other oven besides a gas fired, bakers pride commercial deck pizza oven, I have no experience baking this pizza LOL
Should turn out something like this...
It's an iPhone pic so the browning looks darker than it really is. It's about as good a char as I could get from my dough and my oven combo LOL
Modified by RichPugh at 2:53 AM 1-15-2010