Great Italian Pizza, Baked in Your Home Oven

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Introduction: Great Italian Pizza, Baked in Your Home Oven

About: Programmer, maker and father, probably better in the reverse order.

Pizza is almost everyone's favorite food, and it's not hard to make a very good pizza at home.

You just need good ingredients and some time.

This recipe is for what in Italy is commonly called "pizza in teglia", it does not need to be cooked at high temperatures and you can find it in many takeaways all around the country. Teglia means "baking tin" and it's easy to understand that this recipe was born in house kitchens where you don't have a big and powerful oven or other kinds of special equipment.

The secret for making a good pizza in teglia is to give the dough enough time to rise. This will give you a pizza that is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Step 1: Ingredients and Tools

I will not risk starting a religious war, so I won't discuss fancy toppings, presenting only the recipe for the basic "pizza Margherita", feel free to add your favorite topping (and don't tell me if that is pineapple).

Ingredients for a good pizza are very simple:

  • Flour (it's suggested to use a "strong" four with high protein content)
  • Water
  • Yeast (I use fresh brewer's yeast, but you can use also dry yeast)
  • Salt

Those are the basic ingredients for the dough. Some people also add a bit of olive oil, to make the dough a bit more "elastic", but honestly I think that with the long rise time I suggest you can avoid this extra ingredient.

This is the amount I use to make two 40x30cm (16x12 inches) baking tins:

  • 700g (5 and 1/2 cups) flour
  • 560g (2 and 1/3 cups) water
  • 7g (1 teaspoon) fresh brewer's yeast (half the amount if you use dry yeast)
  • 15g (2 teaspoons) salt

For the dressing, we need sauce and cheese.

Those are the ingredients for the sauce:

  • 300g (1 and 1/3 cups) tomato puree
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • one pinch of salt

For the cheese, I am lucky enough to live close to a farm that makes fresh mozzarella. You can use mozzarella from the supermarket, of course. A mozzarella is 125-150g (1 and 1/2 ounces) and I use three of them for two baking tins of pizza.

If you don't like or can't/don't want to eat cheese you can avoid it and make marinara sauce, you'll just need some garlic (check the step about preparing the sauce for details).

Another very important ingredient that you won't see in the above picture is time.

Dough rising is a natural process, it takes time, and accelerating it (by adding more yeast or rising temperatures) is not a good idea because you'll accelerate only the action of yeast, leading to a pizza that is less tasty and much harder to digest.
I usually prepare the dough at least 24 hours before eating the pizza. The dough will have to rest 18-24 hours in the fridge and then 1 hour and a half at room temperature before cooking, do your planning and you will have your pizza ready for tomorrow's dinner!

It will take time, but I promise that the outcome will be worth the long wait.

You don't need any fancy tools to prepare this pizza:

  • One or more baking tins for your pizza
  • One large bowl that can be sealed with a cover or plastic film
  • One wooden spoon
  • An oven that can reach at least 215C / 420F
  • A surface where you can spread flour to work your dough

Step 2: Prepare the Dough

Drop the flour into a large bowl and add the salt.

Mix them well together with the spoon (yeast does not like salt, so it's better to dilute it inside the full amount of flour).

Put the yeast in the warm water and stir it until is fully dissolved.

Start dropping some water (1/4 of the amount) in the bowl, mixing it with the flour using a wooden spoon.

Mix it well until the water has been fully absorbed by the flour.

Add some more water and keep stirring, then add some more etc. until you mixed all the water in, keep stirring for 5' until the dough will be relatively smooth. It will be very wet and runny, that's normal. The high amount of water is what will make the inside of our pizza soft and "spongy".

Let the dough rest inside the bowl at room temperature for 15'-20'.

Step 3: Work the Dough the First Time

After 20' the dough will still be soft and wet, but hopefully firm enough to be manipulated.

Drop a good amount of flour on your work surface, the dough will be very soft and sticky. Put some flour also on your clean hands, this will reduce the amount of dough that will stick to them while touching it.

Drop the dough on the working surface and use your fingers to roughly shape it like a rectangle.

Roll it up like a burrito, this will incorporate some air into it.

Turn it 90 degrees and roll it again, shaping it like a square.

If the dough is still not firm enough to be manipulated, repeat the process, rolling it in both directions, this should help to make it firmer, letting it keep its shape.

Put it back in the bowl and let it rest again for 10'-15'

Step 4: Work the Dough for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th... Time

After the second rest time, the dough will look more firm.

Drop it again on the working surface and repeat the steps:

  • Shape it like a rectangle
  • roll it like a burrito
  • roll it in the opposite direction making a ball

Then let it rest again for 10'-15' and repeat the process.

I usually work my dough 3 times, sometimes 4 if it still feels wet and runny.

At the end, you can put it back in the bowl and seal it with a cover or with some plastic film.
The bowl should be 3 times the current volume of the dough, or it may overflow.

Step 5: Wait

Now it's time to let your dough rest and slowly rise. Put it in your fridge or in a place where the temperature is between 4C-39F and 10C-50F. Many recipes suggest to leave the dough at room temperature or even in a warm place to speed up the process, but we don't want just rising. During the time in the fridge, the dough will slowly rise but the proteins inside the flour will have time to build a stronger "net" to trap the air bubbles that will make your pizza soft and tasty.
Trust me, it's time well spent.

Step 6: Split the Dough

Take the bowl out of your fridge and let it rest for at least 10' at room temperature.

Once you'll open it you'll see that your dough will have more or less doubled in size and you'll also see some nice big air bubbles forming inside it.

Carefully drop it on your flour-covered working surface and split it in as many parts as the pizzas you plan to make (for me it's usually two).

Just cut it with a knife or a plastic tool, don't tear it with your hands, or your precious air bubbles will be destroyed, making such a long wait useless.

Now do the rectangle-burrito-ball process once on each part of the dough and let the dough balls rest at room temperature for one hour, one hour and a half.

I use a plastic box for this purpose if you don't have one just leave them on your working surface and cover them with a cloth.

Step 7: Prepare the Sauce

Drop the tomato sauce in a bowl, add the olive oil, a pinch of salt and some oregano.

Stir them together, the oil will probably come back on the surface, don't worry, just be sure to pick up some while you drop the sauce on the pizza.

You can just prepare the pizza with tomato sauce and no cheese or other toppings (great for our vegan friends), in that case, add some more oil to the mix and make 25% more sauce. This will prevent the top of the pizza from getting too dry during cooking.

If you want to make marinara sauce, add a bit of garlic to the sauce and let it rest for 30', then remove the garlic before cooking. I prefer to not mix marinara with cheese, but feel free to try what matches your preferences!

Step 8: Prepare Toppings

As I said in the introduction, I will just describe one of the simplest (and tastiest) recipes, pizza Margherita.
Just take mozzarella cheese (the one in the picture is fresh from my favorite farm, try to find a nearby farm if you want the best cheese!) and cut it in cubes of less than 1cm (1/2inch) side.

If there is some water/milk on the bottom of the bowl, just leave it there, don't drop that on the pizza. Fresh mozzarella will usually leak a lot of water, if your cheese seem to be very wet when you cut it you may squeeze it a bit, removing the liquid in excess.

Step 9: Prepare the Baking Tin

Spray the baking tin with some oil, to avoid that the pizza will stick to it.

Then drop one of the balls you prepared more than one hour ago on your work surface and gently use your fingers to shape it like a rectangle a bit smaller than the size of your tin.

Don't pull the dough too hard and try to distribute it equally, keeping all the same height.
Iif you just pull from the sides it will be too thin in the middle.

It's called "pizza in teglia", that means "pizza inside baking tin"...so now it's time to transfer the dough inside the tin!

Spread your left arm diagonally across the rectangle and use your right hand to gently pull the dough over your left forearm (or vice-versa if you are left-handed).
Then gently drop it inside the tin and spread it again using your fingers to cover the whole area of the tin.

Step 10: Final Touches

Drop the sauce over the dough using a spoon and then gently spread it using your hands (if you prefer using the spoon just be very delicate, not pushing down the dough or it may stitch to the baking tin).

Spread cheese and any other topping on the surface.

Now your pizza is ready for the oven!

Step 11: Cook It!

Pre-heat your oven to at least 215C/420F. You should wait until your oven has reached that temperature before putting the pizza in.

Cooking time may change, depending on the oven and the maximum temperature it can reach. Mine can't do much more than 215C, consider this when estimating your timings.

Ensure that the oven is heating from top and bottom.

Put the pizza on the oven floor and leave it there for the first 8', this will ensure that the base will be properly cooked and also help the air inside the dough heating and rising.
After 8' move it to one of the middle racks and cook it for 12-17' minutes (20'-25' in total, depending on the maximum temperature reached by your oven).

When you see signs of burns appearing on the crust (usually on bubbles where it's very thin), your pizza can be pulled from the oven and it's ready to be eaten!

Step 12: Taste It!

When your pizza is ready, its crust should be crunchy and hard enough to let you easily slide it out of the baking tin. Cut it in slices and share it with your loved ones!

All the time spent in the fridge gave you nice big bubbles inside the dough, making the inside "spongy" and soft, you should hear a nice "crunch!" when you bite the crust and then feel the warm soft inside.

Enjoy your pizza and let me know if you like the recipe and have ideas about how it can be improved (being Italian I may not be too positive about improvements that include pineapple!).

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