It’s pretty simple logic: people love pizza. Like, really, really love it. And there are few more effective ways to impress a date than to concoct a gorgeous pie.
Like fresh bread, handmade pizza is comforting, familiar, and delicious, but there’s a dogged perception that it’s challenging to make. Here’s a secret: it’s not. Once you figure out how to make the perfect dough, you’re pretty much just adding toppings.
Here’s a recipe for the classic, Neopolitan style pizza that every date will love. Red sauce, mozzarella, and fresh basil — there’s really no other secret.
Strategy: Dough leavening takes a few hours. Plan ahead and take care of all sauce and toppings prep while dough rises. When your special guest arrives, the only thing left to do should be rolling out the dough, spreading delicious stuff on top, and baking.
Neopolitan Red Sauce Pizza Recipe
Makes: 4-6 medium pies (8-10 inches)
4 cups white flour
1 packet dry yeast
2 tablespoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of oilve oil
1 teaspoon of salt
Red Sauce ingredients:
1 16 oz can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
2 tablespoons of oregano
1 bunch fresh basil leaf
1 teaspoon of black pepper
salt as needed
1 lb Fresh made mozzarella
(Go with the freshest balls possible — nothing from the processed cheese aisle. It’s a bit pricier, but worth it. Trust me.)
1/4 lb Parmesano Reggiano. (Get the real stuff — from Italy, not Wisconsin.)
Let’s get started:
Dough Preparation: 2-3 hours
Step 1: Yeast starter (5 minutes)
Put dry yeast in 1 cup of water with sugar in a pot on stove. Bring slowly to luke warm. Be careful not to overheat. You will see the yeast start to react and transform into a white yellow film on the surface Congratulations, you have just awakend life!
Step 2: Dough mixing (10 minutes)
1) Place 3 cups of flour in a bowl add yeast starter, olive oil and salt and then mix in one direction vigorously. Slowly add about 1/4 cup of luke warm water or enough until the flour becomes sticky.
2) Add flour until dough becomes non-sticky and pliable.
Step 3. Kneading Dough
Sprinkle flour on a cutting board or clean surface. Put dough on board, add flour and ball up. Fold it over on to itself while adding flour if it becomes sticky. Push down with your fists. Do this about eight times until you have a mound of dough that you can push your finger into and it will regain its shape.
Step 4. Leavening Dough (2-3 hours.)
1) Coat sides of a mixing bowl with olive oil. Drop dough inside. Cover bowl with Saran wrap or cloth, and set it somewhere not cold for around 90 minutes.
2) Dough should have doubled in size. Drop dough onto board, sprinkle flour and cut into 4-6 balls.
3) Kneed and flip each loaf unto itself 3 times. Add flour to keep it from sticking to surface.
4) Cover board with cloth or covered baking sheet. Let sit for another 45- 60 minutes.
Note: The longer you let the dough sit the larger it will expand.
Cooking Red Sauce:
This process is very easy. You are making a well-balanced sweet tomato sauce to act as a palate for the cheeses, fresh basil, and crust.
1) Put whole tomato and paste into sauce pot.
2) At medium heat reduce water out of sauce, add chopped or dry oregano, salt and pepper to taste.
3) Chop a tablespoon worth of basil leaf and add towards the end of simmmer. After around 30 min let it sit to cool.
Slice and dry out your mozzarella.
Fresh mozzarella is heavy with moisture. I like to slice it ahead of time and dry it on paper towel. It yields a better product.
Time to Bake:
1) Pre-heat oven at 500 degree. 45 minutes ahead of time.
2) Put a handful of flour and lightly dust baking tray or pizza stone.
3) On a clean surface, roll out your dough balls ahead of time into 6-8 inch circles. Add some olive oil to the dough. Pick the dough up with your hands and pinch the edges in a ciruclar motion so that the dough can stretch as you evenly rotate it.
Note: This might be the most important thing you do all night. Make a noise or yell “Andiamo!” It is at this point that you want your date to watch you roll out the dough. It makes you look more like a pro than you really are. Maybe roll up your sleeves and show off you guns.
4) When dough is about 1/4 inch thick pre-bake for about 2 minutes.
5) Pull out of oven, layer sauce, mozzarella and shave reggiano on top. Put back in oven for 10-12 minutes. Garnish with basil and for the last 2 minutes turn on your broiler to get some open flame action. This will crisp things up.
6) Pull out of oven. It’s done when dough is golden brown and cheese steaming. Let cool for a minute. Slice and serve with copious amounts of Chianti or your favorite big body red.
Read more from Ben at BK + MTL Kitchens.
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