This one is a regular favourite at our house.
This is my modified version of Jeff Varasano's highly detailed and fairly obsessive approach to pizza, aiming to reproduce an archetypal pizza Napoletana.
Start before bed the night before making the dough. Dissolve 30g of sourdough starter into 190g water. Mix in 150g strong bread flour, then leave for 10-18 hours. Bubbles on the surface indicate the sourdough levain is ready to use.
Before starting the dough, remove 30g of the levain to go back into your storage starter.
Add 430-445g water, mix thoroughly to disperse the sourdough.
Add 570g strong white bread flour, or a mixture with ‘00’ flour, or even all-purpose flour
Set aside 195g flour for use after autolyze step.
Mix together evenly in the bowl, then leave to autolyze for 20 minutes
After autolyzing, being mixing slowly, using a scraper by hand, or with a dough hook, for 5 minutes.
Then, slowly begin adding the remaining flour and 20-35g salt, while working the dough in the bowl, still slowly, for a further 3 minutes, approximately.
Rest for 15-20 minutes.
Divide into 3-4 balls (each one will make a medium-sized pizza), rest for 15 minutes.
Rub a couple of drops of olive oil inside a plastic, lidded container to store each ball of dough in the fridge to rest for 1-3 days [note: Varasano suggests up to 6 days, but in my experience, the dough consistently starts to lose some elasticity beyond 3 days, which tends to make it tear when you form your bases]
The dough can also be frozen for later use. Normally, I make 4 balls, and we eat them one at a time, unless we’re eating with friends and feeding a bigger group.
As for baking, remove the ball(s) of dough from the fridge 60-80 minutes before to let them come to room temperature.
Preheat your oven to its hottest temperature. I can’t necessarily recommend Varasano’s advice to defeat the safety mechanism that prevents an oven being opened during the cleaning mode, so as to bake pizza at an even higher temperature without a commercial oven, but you do want it hot. Ours goes up to 300C, and this bakes a pizza in about ten minutes, but your mileage may vary.
The easiest way is probably to stretch the dough out onto a simple baking tray, with ample dusting of semolina underneath. Proper pizza tossing uses the outside of both forearms and wrists to extend the dough slowly and evenly into a circle, but if you’re using a rectangular tray, just stretching it into shape works fine. It will be pretty wet, but shouldn’t tend to tear if you’re careful.
I generally top the pizzas with just chopped organic tomatoes and mozzarella, though Varasano offers a whole section of pointers on specific tomato varieties and a method for reducing the acidity by straining off the liquid. See his website for details.
In wild garlic season, using it for pesto pizza tastes awesome! Don’t bake the pesto, though--it’s best to add that kind of topping after the pizza’s baked. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Added by: Marlon Jones
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