The first time somebody kissed me, I thought, “I don’t get it. Why in the good Lord’s name, would anyone want anyone to do that?” A smash of lips, near suffocation and then a pat on the shoulder. Then a year later, the goalie of the soccer team took me completely by surprise and kissed me at a Halloween party, and my feelings changed. I understood how a mere kiss can transform, transport and change forever the life that you have been living. The same with pizza. Pizza made with no hope or interest and a rubbery cheese does the job of filling you up. Pizza made with a beautiful flour and a sauce of San Marzano and a little secret this and a little secret that, will burn itself into your memory of love forever.
The good news is, I have figured out some pizza secrets.Â The other new is, it’s important not to give up.Â It doesn’t always work outÂ the first time, but if it works out for you the second time, it’s only going to get better.
Start the day before with 3 cups of bread flour, or high gluten flour, 1 cup of wrist temperature water, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of yeast.Â Proof (test) the yeast in the warm water with the sugar.Â Let it sit for 5 minutes.Â Do not use rapid rise yeast.Â Add the oil.Â Stir the salt into the flour in a large bowl, and then dump in the water mixture.Â Mix together with your hands until it all comes together as a dough, and then knead for 5 to 10 minutes.Â Let the dough rise for just over an hour, or until double.Â Grease the bowl it is rising in, and cover with a damp cloth.Â Find a warm place to let it rise.Â Press the dough down, give it a couple of kneads, then place it in individual balls on a greased sheet, covered with plastic wrap, and set the sheet pan into the fridge overnight (12-24 hours).Â This slow second rise is what gives elasticity to your dough and transforms a nondescriptÂ and spongy crust to a YES!!!Â So try it.
For the sauce, strain a can of San Marzano tomatoes and open them up with your hands to strain them of their juice inside as well.Â Squish them with your hands.Â Color one very thinly sliced clove of garlic to golden in the best olive oil you can find.Â Right before it swells to gold, add four or five fresh basil leaves and a few red pepper flakes.Â Turn off the heat.Â Sprinkle with salt, and add the tomatoes without the juice.Â Taste again for salt.
When the dough is ready, roll out the balls to 1/4 inch thickness.Â Transfer the dough to your sheet or stone that has been covered with a dusting of cornmeal.Â Brush the top of the dough with your beautiful olive oil.Â Lightly spread on some sauce, and sprinkle on some fresh mozzarella, but not too much, so that the dough cooks evenly.Â Sprinkle on just a tiny bit of kosher salt, another tiny drizzle of olive oil and bake at 475 degrees, preheating a stone or tile if you have one. Â Bake with a watchful eye until it is golden around the edges and looks done.Â You’ll know.