Sunday, January 22, 2006

Neo-Neapolitan Pizza Dough

Source: American Pie by Peter Reinhart

The Family of Doughs
This is the dough for making New Haven—style pizzas and pizzas in the style of Lombardi’s,Totonno’s,John’s Grimaldi’s, and Taccondllis. It makes a thin, crisp crust with airy pockets in the crown. It’s a little sticky and a touch tricky to handle, but the payoff is in the snap when you take that first bite. This dough stays crisp better than Napoletana dough, which softens under the toppings. Neo-Neapolitan dough requires high-gluten flour (about 14 percent protein), or strong bread flour if you cannot get high-gluten, rather than the all—purpose flour used in Napoletana. if you do not have a retail resource for high—gluten flour, ask a local pizzeria that makes its own dough or a local bakery if you can buy a few pounds.

Makes four 10-ounce dough balls
5 cups (221/2 ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour (I used bread flour)
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
2 teaspoons table salt or 3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil or solid vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon room-temperature water (70°F)

1. With a large metal spoon, stir together all the ingredients in a 4-quart bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer until combined. If mixing with an electric mixer, fit it with the dough hook and mix on low speed for about 4 minutes, or until all the flour gathers to form a coarse ball. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then mix again on medium-low speed for an additional 2 minutes, or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and sticks just a little to the bottom. If the dough is too soft and sticky to hold its shape, mix in more flour by the tablespoonful; if it is too stiff or dry, mix in more water by the tablespoonful. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see page 105). If mixing by hand, repeatedly dip one of your hands or the spoon into room—temperature water and use it much like a dough hook, working the dough vigorously into a coarse ball as you rotate the bowl with your other hand. As all the flour is incorporated into the ball, about 4 minutes, the dough will begin to strengthen; when this occurs, let the dough rest for 5 minutes and then resume mixing for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until the dough is slightly sticky, soft, a supple. If the dough is too soft and sticky to hold its shape, mix in more fl by the tablespoonful; if it is too stiff or dry, mix in more water by the teaspoonful. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see page 105).

2. Immediately divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Round each piece into ball and brush or rub each ball with olive or vegetable oil. Place each ball ii its own zippered freezer bag. Let the balls sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then put them in the refrigerator overnight or freeze any pieces you not be using the next day. (Or, if you are making the pizzas on the same day let the dough balls sit in the bags at room temperature for 1 hour, remove them from the bags, punch them down, reshape them into balls, return them to the bags, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.)

3. The next day (or later the same day if refrigerated for only 2 hours), remove the balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan to roll them out to off the chill and to relax the gluten. At this point, you can hold any balls you don’t want to use right away in the refrigerator for another day, or you car freeze them for up to 3 months.
Note: I do not have a stand mixer, so used my hand the way he described. It works great!