October 5, 2009
Peach pizza photo courtesy of Brian Steinberg
Ever wanted had a taste of good New York style pizza without heading to the Big Apple? You can make it at home and it’s not delivery or DiGiorno.
Recently Brian Steinberg, who blogs at lastoneeating.wordpress.com, recently taught a pizza making class at Hollander’s, which recently launched cooking classes. The pizza class was the third one Hollander’s held, and it was well attended with about 20 people there. It was also the first class that a large mirror hung over the cooking area was used, allowing for audience members to check out the action as if they were watching Food Network.
He made several pies, including a traditional cheese pizza, an apple and feta cheese pizza, a romesco pizza, a pepperoni pie and finally a peach pizza.
Yes, that’s right: apple and feta cheese as well as peach pizzas. Steinberg said during the class, “Pizza can be more than red sauce and cheese.”
For sure, these dessert pizzas were just as hearty and delicious as a traditional slice of pepperoni and cheese.
The mozzarella came out just like what you’d find in a New York pizzeria: thin, foldable and greasy (in the good way). The romesco sauce (a savory sauce of roasted tomatoes, red peppers and nuts) had a fiery kick to it. The apple pie was just as good as any old-fashioned traditional pie but with a savory side.
Overall the class was really helpful and took out the drama and intimidation that comes with tackling a pie at home.
Here’s Steinberg’s recipe for basic pizza dough, which makes three medium pizzas. If you make these ahead of time, you can have pizza faster than it would be to dig out that menu from the kitchen drawer. He suggests using a high-gluten flour instead of the bread flour but cautions it can be hard to find.
Adapted from recipe by Brian Steinberg
1 ¾ cups of water
2 ¼ teaspoons of SAF yeast
4 cups of bread flour plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of honey or sugar (optional but Steinberg says he feels like New York style pizza has a sweetness to it, hence the honey or sugar)
1 ½ teaspoons of salt
Semolina flour for dusting peel (wood board with handle)
Place the flour, yeast and salt in the food processor and pulse to mix. While the processor is running, slowly add the water, olive oil and honey, if using. Mix the dough for 30 seconds. The dough should be sticky and moist.
Dump the dough on a floured surface. Flour your hands and roll out the dough into a ball. Place the dough into a bowl with a little olive oil to very lightly coat the dough. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic and set out for 2 hours to rise.
After 2 hours, punch down the dough to release air. Using a scale (if you have one) measure out three equal pieces of dough and gently form them into balls. They should be about 12 ounces of dough per pizza. At this point you can: Let the dough rest covered in a damp cloth for 10 to 30 minutes at room temp before shaping and cooking; put in a zip top bag and freeze for later; or set the dough with a little oil in a bag and put it in the fridge overnight to develop flavor. Before baking, take the dough out two hours before baking it. If it is frozen, set it out first thing in the morning and it will be ready for dinner.
Baking your pizza
Remove the upper racks from the oven, leaving the bottom rack. Place your baking stone on the bottom rack and crank the oven to 500 degrees and heat for 30 minutes before cooking.
Shaping the dough
Gently flatten the dough into a round disk. Cover both sides with semolina flour. On a floured surface, gently press the dough flat. Grab the edge of the dough and pull to stretch. Spin the dough and continue to stretch until you have a nice size circle. Now the fun part: Top the pizza.
Bake for 7-12 minutes. Steinberg says he sets the timer for 9 minutes and then checks. The pizza is done when the crust is golden brown and the cheese is slightly brown and boiling.
Here are some great tips on making flavorful, delicious and oh yes even greasy pizza at home. (And home cooks rejoice! Throwing it in the air is not necessary! Steinberg says centrifugal force does not account for pizza on the floor.)
Use a pizza stone. If you don’t have one, a baking sheet lined with parchment is a suggested substitute. Speaking of baking sheets, they can also be used to slip the pizza on and off the pizza stone. Handy little gadgets!
Don’t overwork the dough or it will get tough. If it gets tough, Steinberg puts the dough aside for a while and covers it with a towel. It should be ready to work with again in a few minutes.
When you’re putting the pizza into the oven and while it’s on the board, make sure it can move around and that it doesn’t stick. Steinberg emphasizes the importance of this.
Slices of mozzarella cheese work will result in a more even distribution of cheese. And isn’t the even distribution of cheese totally important when it comes to pizza?
To get that greasy quality, Steinberg brushes olive oil on top.
Don’t worry if the pizza ends up being an abstract shape. It will still taste good!
Check out Chef Brian's post on the class here.