Is there anything better than a good – a really good – pizza?
Well, I don’t think so. It would be my treat du jour on a desert island. If I were parked on Death Row, my last-meal request would be a large excellent mushroom pizza with an ice-cold jumbo glass of Coca-Cola. I’d die happy.
The other day, a Sartell resident, Jane Hoffmann, asked if I’d publish my pizza-dough recipe in the newspaper again. She had misplaced the clipping.
“But I have a new one now,” I said. “An even better one.”
“Oh, good,” she said. “Well, put that one in, then.”
And so, here you are, Jane, and any other pizza lovers in Reader Land.
Six months ago, this recipe was in the New York Times. It is based on the recipe used at Roberta’s in Brooklyn – a restaurant famed for its hole-in-the-wall rustic style and its sensational pizza.
Roberta’s Pizza Dough
1 cup all-purpose flour.
1 cup double-zero flour (known as 00 flour).
2 Tbsp. corn meal (this is my own addition).
¾ tsp. active dry yeast.
1 tsp. fine sea salt or kosher salt.
1 tsp. olive oil.
A tad less than 1 cup lukewarm water.
(Note on the recipe: You can use two cups of all-purpose flour. Double-zero flour, so favored by purists, is a very fine-ground flour from durum wheat, and I’m told there is something special about its gluten and elasticity. Italians get very scientific about their flours; I’m not Italian. I’ve used both kinds of flour; both worked fine.)
OK, ready? In a large bowl, mix the flour(s), corn meal, salt. In a medium bowl, mix water, yeast, oil. Pour the liquid into the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. When dough sticks together, sprinkle extra flour on it and knead for 3 minutes. If dough is too sticky, keep dusting with flour while kneading.
Cover dough in the big bowl. Let rest for 15 minutes. Knead again for 3 minutes.
Divide dough in half and roll each half into a ball. Place balls on a cookie sheet dusted well with flour. Cover with a slightly damp towel and let them rest, rising, for 3 to 4 hours.
Each ball makes a round pizza about 12 to 13 inches wide. You can use just one ball and place the other in the fridge. Just rub oil all over the ball, then put it in a covered container and pop into the fridge. It keeps for a week. Before using it, take it out of the fridge and let it sit for 40 minutes.
Now you’re ready to bake. Turn the oven to 450 degrees and place your pizza stone (tile) on the very lowest shelf. Leave the oven on for 30 to 40 minutes so the stone gets very hot.
On a kitchen counter, sprinkle flour and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a circle. Then use fingertips to make dimples all over the dough. Instead of a rolling pin, you can act like an Italian and use your fingers to spread out the dough, and if you feel really Italiano (and coordinated), you can toss the dough into the air round and round while singing a Puccini-opera aria. I tried that once. Oops. Never again.
Now, dust your pizza peel all over with corn meal. Place your rolled-out dough on the peel, then put your toppings on. Open the oven, tilt your peel at a slightly downward angle, give it a slight backward jerk or two while letting the pizza slide onto the hot stone.
Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool awhile before cutting.
I like to sprinkle some parmesan cheese over each slice, the kind that comes in a green container. I can just hear a Neapolitan pizza-maker screaming at me, like a character in a Fellini movie: “Che schifo! Sei pazzo?! ” (How disgusting! Are you crazy?!) Italians abhor parmesan in a cardboard canister. It’s probably a misdemeanor, if not a felony, to use that stuff in Italy. Well, bully for them; I happen to think it’s tasty on pizza and spaghetti.
Since I don’t intend to end up on Death Row any time soon, I’ll be able to make and eat as many pizzas as my heart desires. Delizioso!
I hope you enjoy Roberta’s Pizza Dough. Next week, I’m going to write a column about the vital necessity of using a pizza stone and a pizza peel, and I will share a couple favorite recipes.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.