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This is a public document. Makes two 16-inch Neapolitan style pizzas. The dough and sauce recipes and processes below evolved from 1,000,000,000 experiments over the course of 1,000,000,000 “LaRossa Family Homemade Pizza Fridays” and a combination of the sources of knowledge and inspiration listed below. My recipes and processes are not an exact match to any of these sources. If you’re looking for my pre-2022 “sourdough starter” recipe you can find it here.  

Sources of knowledge and inspiration

  • Sam Sifton’s adaptation of Carlo Mirarchi, Brandon Hoy, Chris Parachini and Katherine Wheelock’s “Roberta’s Pizza” recipe. 
  • Joe Beddia’s book “Pizza Camp.” 
  • Noel Brohner’s “DEEP DIVE Online Pizza Class—Intermediate Level.”

Tools

  • A regular gas oven.
  • A food scale.
  • A food thermometer.
  • A pizza peel.
  • A pizza stone.
  • A pizza cutter.
  • A large glass jar for cultivating room temperature water.
  • Two 1.4 liter round tupperwares.

Dough Baker’s Percentages

Yes, the percentages below add up to 173%. You can read more about how baker’s percentages work here

  • 00 flour = 50%
  • Bread flour = 50%
  • Water = 65%
  • Olive oil = 1%
  • Sugar = 0%
  • Yeast = 1.6%
  • Salt = 4%

To convert the above percentages from Neapolitan style to New York style make the following changes.

  • Olive oil = 3%
  • Sugar = 2%

Dough Ingredients

  • A
    • 325 g “room temperature” water.
    • 5 g good extra virgin olive oil.
  • B
    • 250 g 00 flour (makes the crust crunchy).
    • 250 g bread flour (makes the dough extensible—if you use ap flour your dough will tear).
    • 8 g instant dry yeast (the kind that doesn’t need to be proofed before using).
  • Salt
    • 20 g of this fine sea salt.

To convert the above measurements from Neapolitan style to New York style make the following changes. 

  • A
    • 15 g good extra virgin olive oil
  • B
    • 10 g turbinado sugar

Making The Dough

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the “A” ingredients. Combine them well.
  2. In a smaller mixing bowl, combine the “B” ingredients. Combine them well. Then pour the “B” ingredients into the “A” ingredients. This combination order is very important. Mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. Once combined knead the dough in the bowl for 3 minutes. Note: at the end of 3 minutes it may look wrong. Trust me, it’s right. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes. This initial mix and resting period is also known as an autolyse. That said, I do believe a proper autolyse isn’t supposed to include yeast, but I find that including the yeast produces better results. I have read that sugar and olive oil make yeast more active and that salt makes it less active. I like to give the yeast, sugar (if making New York style), and oil a little time to hang out before introducing the salt.
  3. Once the dough has rested for 20 minutes, add the salt and knead it vigorously on a lightly floured cutting board for 3 more minutes. At the end of 3 minutes shape it into a large ball, cut it into 2 equal pieces, and reshape each piece back into a smaller ball. Brush each ball all over with good extra virgin olive oil, and then place them in their own tupperwares. The lids should be snapped tight. 
  4. If you’re making your dough (A) roughly 6 hours before you’re planning to make pizza, let the tupperwares rest on the counter until you’re ready to begin making your pizza. When you’re dealing with a short period of time between making your dough and making your pizza I find that letting dough rest at room temperature produces better results. This is also known as a bulk ferment. (B) roughly 24 hours before you’re planning to make pizza, place the tupperwares in the fridge. This is also known as a cold ferment or retarding the dough. Take the dough out of the fridge 1 hour before you plan to begin making your pizza.
  5. If you are in a more humid environment (e.g. Atlanta), regardless of how much time you have, I recommend the cold ferment (option 4B above). Otherwise the dough will become too sticky to shape. 
  6. Another important factor is the temperature of your dough, but that topic is too complex for a document like this. I recommend taking Noel Brohner’s intermediate class (mentioned above). I will say that the ideal dough temperature is 70-72 degrees, and, if you have a hot kitchen, you might need to refrigerate your “room temperature” water to get there if you’re doing a bulk ferment. 
  7. Temperature of the water aside, I still recommend keeping your water in a jar. Resting tap water lowers its PH and chlorine. I find that rested tap water produces better results. 

Sauce Ingredients

  • 28oz can of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes. A can of authentic San Marzano tomatoes will have two identifying marks: an emblem with the words Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese Nocerino D.O.P. on the label and a Consorzio San Marzano certification number on the bottom of the can.
  • 3-4 garlic cloves minced and mashed into a paste using the side of a chef’s knife and salt as an abrasive.
  • Generous amounts of fresh ground pepper to taste.
  • Generous amounts of this fine sea salt to taste.

Making The Sauce

  1. Pluck the whole peeled tomatoes from the can and place them in a bowl. Discard the remaining sauce.
  2. Crush the tomatoes with your hands.
  3. Add the other ingredients 
  4. Finish with a whisk, breaking things up and whisking until well combined.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Preparation

  • Cut the fresh mozzarella into small roughly fashioned pyramids.
  • Finely grate some good parmesan.
  • Pluck the basil leaves from their stems and place them in a bowl. 
  • Keep some cornmeal handy.
  • Fill a small bowl with good extra virgin olive oil and keep a brush handy.
  • Keep Pepperoni and/or any other toppings handy.

Making The Pizza

  1. Oven temps and cooking times vary depending on each individual oven. You’ll likely need to experiment and make adjustments to what’s described below. 
  2. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees for 1 hour with your pizza stone on the floor of your oven. Move all your oven racks to the top. Once the oven is preheated, move to the next step.
  3. Sprinkle your pizza peel with a light coating of cornmeal.
  4. Remove one of your dough balls from its tupperware, pat it dry of oil with a cloth, and place it onto a lightly floured cutting board. Then begin by gently pressing the dough down into a disc of even thickness. Then lift the disc and use your fingers to stretch it, then your knuckles, then your hands pulling around the edges (tossing if you’re able) to shape it into a circle. Don’t mess with the center of the disc, just work the edges. You don’t need to make a crust shape when you’re shaping it. Keep it flat. It will rise. Shaping a faux crust will lead to a dense crust. 
  5. If your dough is as extensible as it should be you’ll be able to stretch it very thin without tearing (like a window pane). Still, don’t stretch it too thin. The center needs enough structure to not flop down when you lift a cooked slice to your mouth.
  6. Place your stretched dough onto the cornmeal coated peel.
  7. Give the peel a solid jerk to ensure the pizza is not stuck to it.
  8. Brush the outer edge of the dough (the crust) with good extra virgin olive oil.
  9. Use a ladle to spoon sauce into the center of the dough and radiate out to spread it over the whole pie up to the crust.
  10. Give the peel a second jerk at this point, before adding any toppings that might fall off.
  11. Sprinkle the sauced dough with mozzarella pyramids, and any other toppings.
  12. Give the peel another, lighter jerk to ensure the pizza is not stuck to it.
  13. Open the oven and slide the pizza off the peel and onto the stone. The pizza will slide easily. If you slide it in too vigorously it will crumple against the back of your oven. Place the peel near the back of the pizza stone and give it a slight jerk so that the back edge of the pizza connects with the stone. The pizza will grip the stone and then you can gingerly pull the peel out laying down the rest of the pizza.
  14. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
  15. When the timer goes off, change the oven from bake to high broil and set another timer for 5 minutes.
  16. When there is 1 minute remaining open the oven and toss the basil leaves on top (if using).
  17. When the timer goes off, remove the pizza from the oven.
  18. Sprinkle with the grated parmesan if you want. Let the pizza rest for 5-10 minutes.
  19. Slice, plate, and enjoy! 

If you do try this recipe please send me a picture (@larossa). I would 💙❤️ to see the results!!

Author

  • Brian LaRossa

    Executive Art Director for Scholastic (Orchard, Branches, Acorn). Adjunct for The City College of New York (Design Criticism). Writer (Novels, Stories, Poetry, Criticism). He/Him. Born ATL. Live NYC. Antiracist.

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