27 Sep 11 Steps to the Perfect Pizza
Have you already tried dozens of pizza dough recipes without finding one that impresses you? We worked under pizza master Guiseppe Anedda in Tuscany for a day and were let in on the secrets to the perfect pizza dough. We’ve tasted this pizza, and the recipe should become your standard. Giuseppe works as a pizza maker at the Trattoria Il Rosmarino in the Resort Castelfalfi; he has baked delicious Neapolitan pizza passionately for 40 years. Giuseppe’s first rule: “You must never stress the dough. Otherwise, no good pizza will come out of it.” You need a lot of time, because the dough should rest and rise for 24 to 48 hours. You need the following ingredients for a thin, crispy pizza dough (recipe download available at the bottom of the article):
- 600 ml water (fridge temperature)
- 800 g white flour, type 00
- 200 g fine semolina
- 25 ml olive oil
- 33 g salt
- 5 g dried yeast
- In addition, you will need:
- A food processor or hand mixer
Real Italian Pizza
These measurements result in 6 to 7 pizzas, approximately 30 cm in diameter. We mixed the dough with a food processor, which makes it fluffier than the hand stirrer, but either one works. If you have the good fortune to have a wood-burning oven, you can omit the olive oil. The oil provides a higher temperature in the dough and mimics the effect of a stone oven. The pizza is pretty crispy. You can find the flour type 00, which is particularly suitable for pizzas and pastries, and the fine semolina used to create the crispness of the crust, in a wholesale grocer or Italian deli. We had never seen such a fine semolina as the one Giuseppe used. It may work with commercially-available semolina. Just try it out.
Authentic Italian pizza recipe with semolina:
- Mix flour and semolina with the yeast and gradually stir in the water. Keep a sip of water for later. Now add the olive oil, and finally add the salt. Never mix the salt directly with the yeast, as this will cause the yeast to lose its properties and the dough will not rise. Stir the mixture for maximum 15 minutes. The dough absorbs a lot of air while you stir, making it nice and soft. When you finally pour in the rest of the water, the dough comes off the edge of the bowl and becomes beautifully smooth.
- Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Stir the dough again briefly, so that it absorbs some more air and becomes fluffy. When you pull on the dough, it should feel more elastic.
- Divide the dough into even portions of 250 to 300 g and let the dough pieces rest in a closed container at room temperature for 4 hours.
- Now comes the step that only a few know: The container with the dough pieces now goes into the fridge and stays there for the next 17 hours (for those who can wait that long). Giuseppe even leaves the dough in the fridge for 41 hours. The pizza master swears by this practice of giving the dough so much time because the low temperature allows the yeast to work in the pizza dough. The polysaccharides are split into simple sugars, making the pizza easier on the stomach. If you find a pizza hard to stomach, it’s probably because it’s made with “quick dough.” The yeast digests, so to speak, in the long refrigerator phase, so the pizza and the dough have time to mature. Make sure that the temperature doesn’t drop below 4 degrees Celsius, otherwise the yeast will die and the pizza dough will not rise.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest at room temperature for another 3 to 4 hours. Your pizza dough has now had a total of 24 or 48 hours to become perfect.
- Dust the dough pieces with flour and place a dough piece on a floured surface. The rolling pin can stay in the cupboard. Now, manual labour is needed, because the pizza dough does not want to be stressed! With the palms of both hands, flatten the dough piece in the middle and turn it at the same time. The result is the typical high pizza rim and a flat bottom in the middle. If you give yourself some time, you will gradually get the hang of it. When the pizza crust is spread out enough, gently lift it up (do not pull on the pizza rim!) and balance it between your hands, gently moving back and forth to shake off the excess flour that would immediately burn in the oven. Place your pizza crust on a baking sheet and pull it again so that it becomes even. Again, do not pull from the pizza rim; pull the pizza as a whole from the middle out.
- For the tomato sauce, Giuseppe uses ripe, very aromatic tinned Tuscan tomatoes. It doesn’t matter whether you use fresh or canned tomatoes. Either way, the tomatoes should be mature and have a robust taste. Remove the stalk and other hard parts of the tomato and mix with nothing but salt. Giuseppe uses 10 g of salt per kilo of tomatoes. Why not spices? Because they would only distract from the great flavour of the tomatoes.
- Giuseppe spreads 80 g of tomato sauce across a pizza with a diameter of 30 to 33 cm (omitting the rim), and tops it with 100 g of mozzarella. Either use dry, firm mozzarella, or let the moist mozzarella (even better: buffalo mozzarella) drain a couple of hours, because otherwise the pizza becomes soggy from the cheese. Cut the mozzarella into pieces and evenly cover the pizza base.
- The pizza takes 3 to 3.5 minutes in the oven, once it is preheated to maximum temperature. Check the pizza often. Naturally, it should not burn. Of course, the perfect setting and rack placement in your home oven will depend on your device. Presumably you will need a few tries to find the ideal settings. In the stone oven, the pizza does not even need a minute at 400 degrees (don’t forget to turn it!).
- Take the pizza out of the oven and top it with fresh basil, salami or ham, shaved parmesan, grilled vegetables, rocket, or whatever you like. If you were to bake these toppings before, they would burn and lose their flavour. The pizza now has enough heat to melt the topping and thus develop the flavour and aroma. Now, as they say: Buon Appetito!
Download the recipe as a PDF here: 11 steps to the perfect pizza
Did it work for you? How did you enjoy the pizza? We’re looking forward to your comments.