Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pizza Stone Pizza with Prosciutto and Buffalo Mozzarella.

How can you have great pizzaria oven or wood fired pizza taste at home without spending hundreds of dollars on the oven set up? Easy. A $20 pizza stone. The key is to put the stone in a cold oven and crank up the heat in your oven to heat the pizza stone for 30-45 minutes at a high temperature.
The pizza stone is a thermal mass that absorbs the oven heat, acting much like the brick-lined ovens used in pizzerias. Those ovens can reach temperatures of 600 to 1,000 degrees, but like anything folks, we have to work with what we have. You will need to figure out on which shelf to place the stone in your oven to turn out the best pizza. The middle shelf worked best for me. Want to save even more money? You can use terra cotta tiles from the home supply store in place of a pizza stone. Just remember, the stone is like a sponge. Don't wash it with soap as it absorbs it. Scrape it clean, wash with warm water and reseason with olive oil and store in your oven.
Stoned Pizza with Prosciotto, Buffalo Mozzerella and Herbs
Pizza Dough: Makes enough dough for two 10-12 inch pizzas
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (105°F-115°F)
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) of active dry yeast (check the expiration date on the package)
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour ( bread flour will give you a crisper crust, but you can use regular)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
Pizza Ingredients
  • Olive oil
  • Sauce
  • Toppings (see below for suggestions and amounts)

Making the Pizza Dough

1 In the large bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer add the warm water. Sprinkle on the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Stir to dissolve completely if needed at the end of 5 minutes.
2 Attach a mixing paddle to the mixer. Mix in the olive oil, flour, salt and sugar on low speed for about a minute. Remove the mixing paddle and replace with a dough hook. Knead using the mixer and dough hook, on low to medium speed, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If you don't have a mixer, you can mix and knead by hand, I did.
3 Place ball of dough in a bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil. Turn the dough around in the bowl so it is evenly oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place (75-85°F) until it doubles in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. If you don't have a warm spot in the house you can heat the oven to 150 degrees, and then turn off the oven. Place the bowl of dough in this warmed oven to rise.
You can freeze half the dough in an airtight container at this point for up to two weeks if you are making just one pizza. It makes good calzones or other dishes after thawing and rising again (it will take longer to rise after it's been frozen once).

Preparing the Pizza

1 Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour.
2 Remove the plastic cover from the dough and punch the dough down. Divide the dough in half if you are making the full recipe (two pizzas). Place the dough in one bowl per pizza, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes.
3 Working one ball of dough at a time, take one ball of dough and flatten it with your hands on a slightly floured work surface. Starting at the center and working outwards, use your fingertips to press the dough to 1/2-inch thick. Turn and stretch the dough until it will not stretch further. Let the dough relax 5 minutes and then continue to stretch it until it reaches the desired diameter - 10 to 12 inches. Use your palm to flatten the edge of the dough where it is thicker. You can pinch the very edges if you want to form a lip.
4 Brush the top of the dough with olive oil (to prevent it from getting soggy from the toppings). Use your finger tips to press down and make dents along the surface of the dough to prevent bubbling. Let rest another 5 minutes.
Repeat with the second ball of dough if you're making two pizzas.
5. Prepare your toppings. You don't need much. Too much will give you a soggy pizza. Per pizza: About a soup ladle full of tomato sauce (see sidebar for some pizza sauce recipes), 3 ounces of sliced prosciotto, 1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) of sliced buffalo mozzarella, and a sprinkle of basil and or oregano, throw on some thinly sliced onion if you like. Toppings should be thin.
6 Lightly sprinkle a flat baking sheet with corn meal. Transfer one prepared flattened dough to the sheet. If the dough has lost its shape in the transfer, lightly shape it to the desired dimensions.
7 Spoon on the tomato sauce, sprinkle with cheese, and place your desired toppings on the pizza.
8 Sprinkle some cornmeal on the baking stone in the oven (careful - the oven is hot!). Gently shake the baking sheet to see if the dough will easily slide, if not, gently lift up the edges of the pizza and add a bit more cornmeal. Slide the pizza off of the sheet and on to the baking stone in the oven. Bake pizza one at a time until the crust is browned and the cheese is golden, about 10-15 minutes. If you want, toward the end of the cooking time you can sprinkle on a little more cheese.
9. Tell your $7 tiny little Wolfgang Puck pizza to take a hike.