I was dying for my favorite margherita pizza in Port Jefferson however, it’s Monday, it’s kind of yucky out, and I am just flat out too lazy to drag the kids there this evening. Instead, I decided to make my own! Granted, it’s not quite the perfection of my favorite place but it was pretty damn delicious. When the kids ask for thirds and your husband can’t stop eating it, you know you did good.
I found this recipe on Epicurious, it was the Pizza Margherita by Melissa Roberts and Maggie Ruggiero. I didn’t deviate at all from the recipe except to use San Marzano tomatoes in place of regular whole tomatoes. I also doubled both the sauce and the dough so that I could make two pizzas. I used my large, round pizza stone to bake the pizzas and they came out excellent. The recipe suggested to use parchment paper on the pizza peel and then transferring that directly to the stone. What a fantastic idea!! It made the transfer of the pizza from the counter to the stone to the cutting board a cinch. I was also able to assemble both pizzas at one time which was very convenient so as one pizza came out of the oven I was able to slide the next one right in. Easy peasy.
Overall, this recipe made a delicious pizza that was pretty easy to make. The only “trouble” you might encounter is when making the dough, getting it to be less sticky requires that you keep adding extra flour. That usually makes me a little nervous because I don’t want to end up with a brick in the end but if you don’t add a little as needed, you will have a giant, sticky mess on your hands. I used my stand mixer with the dough hook to bring the dough together and then proofed it in my oven as I have a “proof” setting. If you do not have that feature, just be sure to allow the dough to rise in a warm area free of drafts.
For the dough
- 1 (1/4 oz) package of active dry yeast
- 1 3/4 unbleached all purpose flour, divided (plus more for dusting)
- 3/4 cup warm water, divided
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbs olive oil
For the sauce
- 1 (14-15 oz) can of whole tomatoes in juice
- 2 large garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 4 basil leaves, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/4 tsp sugar
For the pizza
- 6-8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
In a large bowl, stir together the yeast, 1 tbs flour, and a 1/4 cup warm water (105 – 110 degrees). Let stand until the surface appears creamy, about 5 minutes. (If the mixture does not appear creamy, throw it out and start over with new yeast)
Add 1 1/4 cups flour, remaining 1/2 cup of warm water, salt, and oil and stir until smooth. Stir in enough flour (1/4 to 1/3 cup) so that the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. Dough will be slightly wet.
Knead on a floured surface or use the dough hook of your stand mixer and work the dough until smooth, soft, and elastic. About 8 minutes. Form a ball, place into an oiled bowl and dust with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a draft free place for about 1 1/4 hours. Dough should double in size.
While the dough is rising, make the tomato sauce. Pulse the tomatoes with the juice in a blender to make a chunky puree. (You can also just squeeze the tomatoes in their juices as well and avoid the blender.) Cook the garlic in oil over medium low heat until fragrant and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, sugar, and 1/8 tsp salt and simmer until thickened and reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 40 minutes. Season with salt as needed and cool.
At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, heat the stone in a 500 degree oven on the lower third rack.
While the stone is heating, shape the dough. Do NOT punch the dough down. Dust with flour and transfer to a parchment lined pizza peel or large baking sheet. Pat out the dough evenly with your fingers and stretch into a 14″ round.
Spread sauce over dough, leaving a 1″ border. Arrange the cheese. Keep the pizza on the parchment and slide right onto the hot stone. Bake until the dough is crisp and browned and the cheese is golden and bubbling, about 13-16 minutes. When the pizza is done, use the peel to transfer to a cutting board. Cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh basil, slice, and serve hot.