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Recipe: Neopolitan Pizza Dough

June 25, 2010

I don’t know what cookbook this originally came from as it was passed down to me years ago from my long-time friend Katie. It’s the recipe that her family has used for many years, and I remember first putting together calzones with her family when I was in high school.

This recipe is easy to experiment with (the dried herbs and whole wheat flour are my own additions), and makes two 9- to 11-inch pizzas or two calzones.

Neopolitan Pizza Dough

A Neopolitan pizza crust must be thin. If you prefer an extra crispy crust, roll the dough into a round 11-inch diameter, rather than the 9-inch specified in the pizza recipes. Note that these directions make enough for two crusts. Each recipe calls for half the amount. You can refrigerate the extra dough for up to two days or double the toppings and make two pizzas.

1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water (105ºF)
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup cold water
1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or half white whole wheat); plus extra for kneading
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder (optional)
1/2 tsp dried basil (optional)
1/2 tsp dried oregano (optional)
1/2 tsp dried rosemary (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, stir the yeast into the lukewarm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the olive oil and the cold water, and then whisk in 1/2 cup of the flour and the salt, stirring until smooth. Stir in the remaining flour and dried herbs (if using), 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough comes together in a rough mass.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and velvety, 8-10 minutes. It will be soft. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rest for 15 minutes.

Divide into two equal protions, knead briefly, then roll each portion into a smooth, tight round ball. To use the dough immediately, sprinkle a little flour on the work surface and set the balls on it. Cover them with a kitchen towel and let rise for 1 hour, then stretch top the dough as directed in each recipe.

(For short-term storage, resulting in more flavor, place the dough balls on a small baking pan lined with a kitchen t0wel, cover them with a second towel and refrigerate for up to 48 hours; remove from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before forming the pizza.)

For calzones:

Preheat the oven to 500ºF, placing the pizza stone on the lowest rack of the oven.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface (a pizza peel or baking sheet works great so it’s easy to transfer into the oven). Sprinkle a little more flour on the top of the dough and, using your fingertips, press evenly into a round, flat disk about 1 1/2 inches thick and 5 inches in diameter. Lift the dough and gently stretch it with your fingers and then over the backs of your fists, using the weight of the dough to allow it to grow in size.

While you are stretching the dough, gently rotate the disk. Continue stretching and rotating the dough utnil it is about 1/4 inch thick and 8 inches in diamter. Try not to let the center of the disk become too thin. Next dust the peel or baking sheet with more flour and lay the pizza in the center.

…now the improvisation…

We usually put sauce on one side of the dough. Often, we sautee vegetables (green peppers or onions) first. Sometimes we’ll add pepperoni or chicken. It’s really up to you. Fresh basil, oregano, garlic, or other herbs are great too! Be generous with the mozzarella (or other cheese of your choice). Either way, adjust the dough as you see fit.

When you’re all done, fold the dough over and crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Tear a stream vent about one inch in the center of the top with a sharp knife. Spoon tomato-basil sauce over the vent and spread it around for decoration. You can sprinkle parmesan on top as well.

Bake until the top is golden brown and the bottom is dotted with dark brown spots, 8-9 minutes. Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese, and voila, dinner is served!

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