Thursday, February 5, 2009

BASIC PIZZA DOUGH LIKE DELORENZO'S

Always searching for the best pizza dough recipe, I stumbled on this recipe posted on the Fabulous Foods website, where blogger Cheri says that her friend, Mitch, the author of this recipe, claims to make the world's best pizza dough. With that kind of a recommendation, I gave it a try.

Pizza is a regional food. There are as many variations of pizza in this country as there are states. If you try to trace the origin of pizza in the U. S., you'll find a complicated trail; but my hubby's hometown, Trenton, New Jersey, is claimed by some to be the birthplace of the Tomato Pie. As my hubby will tell you, a Trenton tomato pie is superior to any other pizza anywhere in the world, and DeLorenzo's is the best of the best. I have neighbors from Chicago who would disagree (they pay big bucks to get deep dish pizza delivered to their door from the windy city).

But Guy is the one I live with. And I make pizza to please him, except, of course, when I make white pizza for myself. (No tried and true Trenton traditionalist would ever touch a pizza with anything other than tomatoes, cheese and traditional Italian toppings like sausage, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, anchovies and the like. Ham and pineapple pizza? No way, Jose -- at least not for Guy.) For Guy, memories of DeLorenzo's pizza are somehow imprinted with overlapping recollections of growing up. To alter any part of the formula would be changing his past. I can respect that, and I do.

Guy gives this recipe two thumbs up, way up. Since, in this household, we focus on thin-crust pizza, I can't comment on how this dough is if it's rolled out thick. But it's tender, light, crisp and flavorful when it's rolled out thin. And Guy is happy because it's "almost DeLorenzo's."

One more comment: if you're limiting yourself to non-rise pizza doughs, you'll never know the joy of tasting the full flavor of a risen dough cured overnight in the fridge. Do yourself a favor: try this one time and see if there isn't a difference. This dough is soft, supple and very easy to work with. What more could you want for making the best tomato pie?


Basic Pizza Dough
Adapted from fabulousfoods.com
Rating: 9 out of 10

INGREDIENTS: 3-1/2 cups bread flour (or part bread flour, part white whole wheat)
1 cup warm water (between 95 and 115F; it should feel comfortable on your wrist.)
1 packet active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt

In small bowl, stir water and honey till honey dissolves. Sprinkle yeast over water; stir; let sit 5 minutes till it bubbles. Place 1-1/2 cups flour in work bowl of food processor with salt; pulse to combine. Pour yeast mixture over flour; pulse several times to mix. Add oil and pulse till incorporated. Add remaining flour and pulse till dough forms, adding more water or flour as needed to get the right consistency. You want a soft dough, but it shouldn't stick to the work bowl. Place the dough on a floured board and knead for about a minute to build the gluten. Place the dough in a greased bowl; turn to coat both sides; cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for about 45 minutes, or till doubled. (I usually put my dough in the microwave, turned off, of course, because it's a nice warm spot. Test for doubling by pushing two fingers into side of dough. If dent remains, dough has doubled.)

Punch your fist into the center of the dough and smack it around to deflate the bubbles.

Now you have some options:

1. Let the dough rise again now -- back to the microwave. The second rising will be shorter, maybe 25-30 minutes. Check the dough by pressing two fingers near the edge. If dent remains, dough has risen enough. Punch it down again and shape it. Put sauce and toppings on and bake.

2. Let the dough cure in the fridge -- separate it into 4 balls. Flatten to discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in coldest part of fridge (lower back). This will slow the yeast down so the dough won't over-rise in the fridge. You should be able to leave it there for a few days, but I usually take it out the second day and punch it down, then put it back, just to be sure it doesn't over-rise. You do not need to let it rise again when you take it out to use it, but bring it to room temperature before rolling it. It'll roll much more smoothly then. Note: Do not put the entire ball of dough back into the rising bowl into the fridge overnight. It will rise too quickly and your dough will not be good. You must flatten the individual balls of dough and put them in the back of the lower part of the fridge to get them cold quickly and slow down the yeast.

3. Freeze the dough for future use -- It'll be ok for at least a month. Just wrap it in plastic wrap, put it in a freezer bag, and freeze. When you're ready for it, take dough out, and bring it to room temperature before you try to roll it. That may take a few hours, so plan accordingly. And don't worry if it starts to rise again. When you're ready to put the sauce & toppings on, just punch it down first and then roll it to shape. Yeast dough is a funny thing: the more you handle it, the better it is.

Some more info: A rolling pin is the best way to get the dough rolled thin. Each of the 4 pieces should roll to a 10" - 12" crust. I was able to get four 12" pizzas, but it will depend on how thin you roll the dough. Put your sauce, cheese and toppings on and bake in a preheated oven on a preheated pizza stone. I like to place my pizzas on a circle of parchment paper on the pizza stone. And how hot is hot? I've experimented -- to get a crispy thin crust, first of all, don't overload the pizza with sauce and toppings. Make them thin, too. Preheat the oven to 550F, then turn down to 400F as soon as you put the pie in the oven. The crust should puff up quickly, and the center and the toppings should also cook quickly but not burn. This is the DeLorenzo way.

18 comments:

Donna-FFW said...

Hi Judy- Since your husband is from Trenton, I am wondering if he's ever tried the thin crust pizza from Pete n Eldas in neptune, NJ? SOOOOO good. Love thin crust. I must give this a try on a weekend.

Elyse said...

Oh wow, that pizza looks divine! I'm usually more of a dessert girl myself, but pizza is my one regular-food weakness (maybe that and good lasagna). I can't wait to try to make this! My boyfriend is originally from NY and is quite picky about his pizza; I have a feeling this one is going to impress him!

Barbara Bakes said...

Sounds like a great recipe!

Judy said...

Donna - No, Guy has not tried Pete n Elda's pizza. Neptune was not in his path.
Elyse - Hope it works for you. Please let me know.

Amanda said...

Cheri and Mitch are friends of mine and I agree, this dough is the best

I make pizza about once a week now with this dough and everyone in this family loves it!

Cheri Sicard said...

Hi Judy,

This is Cheri from FabulousFoods.com. I'm happy you enjoyed the recipe.

Since it was first published, I have made an improvement that even Mitch admits is better than his original. Substitute 1/2 cup semolina flour (a whole grain flour that really improves pizza and pasta taste and texture)for 1/2 cup regular or bread flour. You can usually find semolina in the flour section of the supermarket. Bob’s Red Mill is one brand that is usually readily stocked in a lot of areas.

Judy said...

Cheri, Thanks so much for the tip about semolina. I've never tried it and didn't know it was a whole-grain flour. I'll definitely look for it next time I go to the store.

Hairball said...

Judy, I printed out a copy of this to try. Mr. Hairball and I used to have homemade pizza on Friday nights but, I have gotten out of the habit.

Now I just need to go buy some pizza toppings!

Tom said...

Hi Judy...

I am currently making your recipe here in Wilmington...the dough is doubling right now in the microwave.

I am little confused as to what to do next. You wrote:

"Punch your fish into the center of the dough and smack it around to deflate the bubbles. Let it rise again (or separate it into 4 flat discs and wrap each separately in plastic wrap and put in the coldest spot of the fridge overnight)."

So once I take the dough out of the microwave, I can:

1) Let it rise again...Where - in the fridge overnight? For how long - another 45 minutes or overnight?

2) I can slice it into 4 discs and freeze them. Can I keep them frozen until I need them? I only plan on making one pizza tomorrow.

Thanks Judy!

Tom Nagle

Tom said...

Hi Judy,

Once I take the dough out of the microwave and punch it...

1) How long do I let rise again? Overnight in the fridge or another 45 minutes in the microwave?

2) You said I can cut it into fours, and freeze each separately in the freezer. How long can I keep them there? I only want to eat one pizza tomorrow.

3) After I take the pizza out and punch it, can I let it rise in the bowl (covered) in the fridge until tomorrow (without cutting it)? When I take it out, can I cut it into fours then?


Thanks Judy!

Tom Nagle

Judy said...

Tom: Since you are planning on making only one pizza, do this: Punch the dough down with your fist. Separate into 4 balls. Put one ball back in the rising bowl and let it rise again. Flatten each of the other 3 balls into a disc shape; cover each with plastic wrap and put in coldest part of fridge -- if you are going to use them within a few days. If not, put them in a freezer bag in the freezer. When you're ready to use one, take it out, let it thaw and rise, punch down, shape, put sauce & toppings on and bake. If I'm still confusing you, please let me know. Sorry I didn't answer this sooner. Every time I take an afternoon off, I miss something important. I hope you'll let me know how it turned out.

Judy said...

Tom - In answer to your second query, I can see why you're confused. There are some variables in this recipe. I made two pizzas one night, and two pizzas two nights later. This dough improves with age. You asked how long do you let it rise the 2nd time. The day you make the dough, you have the option of baking 1 or all 4 pizzas. The second rising usually is faster than the first. The dough is warmed up by then and the yeast is working well. You will have to check it, looking for bubbles and pressing your fingers in to see if the dent stays. You don't want to over-rise the yeast. When you put the dough in the fridge, it slows the yeast down. That's when you want to slow it down, so that's why you put it in the coldest part of the fridge (lower back).
Your dough should keep in the freezer for a month or so.
Can you leave the dough in the rising bowl in the fridge till tomorrow? I wouldn't. The reason you separate it into flat discs is to get it cold quickly so the yeast will slow down. If you keep the whole thing in the bowl, the yeast will be working too much and your dough may over-rise. If you have any other questions, please do write back and I'll do my best to answer. Good luck!

Tom said...

Judy...

Thanks for responses to both my posts. I didn't realize that you approved the posts, so I posted the question again - but both responses were helpful.

I have made the pizza dough twice in the last four days, and both times it turned out great. We had a party last night, and we made a lot of smaller, irregular shaped pizzas, loaded with various toppings: onions, peppers, kimchi, pine nuts, roasted peppers, pesto, mushrooms. It was a hit, so thank you.

I am going to try the recipe with 1/2 cup of semolina flour next go round, as was recommended on fabolousfoods..

I am from Philly and have been to DeLorenzos - it is so good!

Thanks for the great recipe.

Tom

Judy said...

Tom - Thanks so much for the feedback. I intend to try the semolina next time also.

Brianna said...

Just curious, did your husband go to the delorenzo's on hudson or hamilton because they are two very competitive pizza places in Trenton operated by distant relations in the same family and everyon around here has their favorites! If it is a crust based on the hamilton avenue delorenzo's then I'm all over it!

Judy said...

Brianna -- My hubby went to Hamilton Ave. DeLorenzo's. I've never been (or it's been so long I've forgotten). But I've found new pizza recipes that supposedly deliver even a thinner crust than this recipe. This recipe is good, but I'm going to be trying some new ones. Problem is after 16 years in the south, we finally got a decent Italian restaurant/pizzeria. Their pizza is New York style. While not the greatest, it's darned good and keeping us in pizza. So I haven't had the motivation to make my own. One of the recipes I'll be trying is on The Alcoholian website. One of the others we got from a pizzeria in Emerald Isle (Michaelangelo's) that makes the best pizza we've ever tasted. They gave us the recipe with no amounts for ingredients, but the secret seems to be bleached flour which produces a more tender crust. I tried Cheri's semolina crust and it's good, chewy, but I couldn't get it to roll thin enough.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Trenton as well. I found this recipe today and am eager to try it out!

Karen Kofoet said...

so any of u trentonites try it?? how close is it?? gonna by the semolina flour this week. A few times I've looked at the shoprite & the acme & neither have it.