Neapolitan Pizza Dough

I have a special interest in pizza making.  My brother, Steve traveled to northern Italy years ago to learn how to make authentic pie. Upon his return he opened his first restaurant, The New York Pizza Factory (which has since closed its' doors), serving brick oven pies with names like the Brooklyn Bridge and Empire State, each made with in-house mozzarella. Here are some pies he made for us while out on Long Island. He has since been busy opening his new restaurant in Tuxedo, NY; click here to see Steve's new restaurant.


There are few things better than a slice of New York style pizza. While living there I sampled many, but my brother's pies are special. His recipes are steeped in tradition, and reflect a skill level developed through years of hard work and travel.


Throughout the years I've had many mishaps, including the importance of fresh yeast (stale yeast = dough that doesn't rise) & proper dry measuring techniques (weigh your flour, don't scoop) while trying to emulate my brother's particular level of quality. I still reach out to him from time to time, most recently for advice on how to cook the proper sauce.


Here is a recipe for a basic dough that I developed with my brother. Inspired from The Complete Italian Cookbook 1953, it's easy to use and similar to his Neapolitan recipe without the use of semolina flour. The dough is basic and reliable, and produces a crust that has great bite and a bit of crunch. Not in the mood for meat or cheese? See below for vegan topping ideas.


Note: Make sure your oven is heated to it's highest setting (500 degrees). I prefer using a pizza steel instead of a stone (it gets hotter). I also make the pies directly on a pizza screen and then slide them onto the steel to bake off. The screen helps the heat to circulate through the pie and cook the crust properly.


Pie Crust Vegan


Ingredients:


-1 package active dry yeast (1/4 oz)

-1 3/4 cup warm filtered water (make sure it's not too hot or it will kill the yeast (between 110-115 degrees fahrenheit)

-1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

-4-4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

-2 teaspoons fine sea salt


Directions:


In an electric mixer bowl, sprinkle the yeast into 1/2 cup of water and mix at low speed. Turn off the mixer and let the mixture proof until it bubbles, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining water and olive oil and turn the mixer on at low speed. Add the flour, about 1 cup at a time on low speed to mix the ingredients.  After the third cup, add the salt. Turn the mixer to medium speed and add enough flour to make a dough that clings to the batter paddle.  Turn off the mixer and check dough; it should be soft, not sticky.  If the dough is too sticky, add flour, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the right consistency. If the dough is too dry, add a little water, 1 teaspoon at a time until it becomes soft and smooth.

When done, turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 3-4 minutes.  Form it into a ball and place in a large bowl sprayed with vegetable oil. Tightly wrap the bowl in plastic, and let sit in a warm place for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. Now you are ready to make your pizza!  Yield two 12" crusts.


Not Into Meat?

Here are some plant-based topping ideas:


-Cashew Cream

-Caramelized Onions

-Fresh Spinach

-Crisped Field Roast Italian Sausage

-Vegan Mozzarella (I like Miyoko brand)

-Capers (instead of anchovies)