It’s time to cook a classic at-home pizza using 4 simple ingredients.
So, is there anything better than pizza? I’ll wait.
In this classic recipe I will be combining a few of my favorite ingredients in Italian food: mozzarella and basil. I’m a sucker for that fresh, bouncy and almost pillow-soft mozzarella cheese. In New Jersey, it’s called ‘mutz’ but if you were to ever say that to a real Italian….buona notte! Leafy green, long and sturdy basil is another favorite of mine. I always try to keep a basil plant in my kitchen, however, if you don’t have direct sunlight I recommend getting a grow light for basil. They need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day as well as regular watering.
But for now let’s get into the heart of the matter today, la pizza!
Ingredients (FOR TWO 12 INCH PIZZAS):
2 cups of Farina ’00’
1/2 tsp of rapid-rising yeast
3/4 cups of water
1/2 tsp of salt
14.5 oz of Cento tomato puree (for the sauce)
3-4 Basil leaves
Fresh mozzarella (sliced thick)
Sprinkle of dried oregano
1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
You may be wondering, what is Farina ’00’? Refer to the picture below. Farina ’00’ or Flour ’00’ is the only type of flour you should ever use if you’re trying to cook pizza or pasta. It is the ultimate flour most necessary for Italian cooking, but it can be on the pricier side and hard to find. The ’00’ means that the flour is the most finely ground with ‘Farina 2’ in Italy meaning that the flour is the most coarsely ground. If you want a chewy yet crispy crust that melts in your mouth then I highly recommend going the extra mile for this ingredient. It’s also been reported that this flour is easier to digest because of how it’s ground. Meaning you can eat your pizza without that bloaty-and-tired feeling afterward.
The first step to cooking pizza is to pour your flour into a medium-sized mixing bowl. If you have a Kitchen Aid, even better! Your arm will be less sore from the stirring. Now, in order to make the yeast work properly you’ll need to get lukewarm water (I recommend between 105-115 degrees) first and then add the yeast. When you get the water just right, add the yeast and stir vigorously with either a small whisk or fork. If you see bubbles appear as pictured below, then that means the yeast is active and ready to go!
*If you don’t see these bubbles, you’ll need to re-do this process with the right temperature of water. I know–it’s complicated BUT without these bubbles your dough won’t rise!*
Ok, so now you have your flour and your yeast ready to go. As soon as you see the bubbles forming, it’s time to start adding slowly to your flour. Little bit of yeast, little bit of the rest of your 3/4 cup of water. Adding both slowly and stirring throughout the process. If you’re using a Kitchen Aid, you’ll want your setting on 2 using the dough hook while you add the ingredients.
Once this is added, add your salt and continue to stir until your dough is no longer too sticky. You may need to add a little bit of water or flour here and there in order to make sure your dough isn’t sticky (or just make sure that when you touch it it doesn’t leave a residue). Don’t worry about exact measurements here, just a sprinkle of both is fine (or go 1/2 a tsp at a time).
Once your dough is no longer too sticky, take it out of your bowl and roll into a ball. Grab a medium to large sized bowl and lightly grease it with olive oil. You can do this by taking a napkin or cloth and pouring some oil onto it and then rubbing your bowl. After your bowl is greased, add the dough and cover with a dish cloth. The best place you can keep your dough while you wait for it to rise is in your oven (as long as your oven is off). The temperature in your oven will stay the same all day which is great for rising dough. Humidity in your space can affect your dough rising, that’s why the ovens enclosed space is best. You’ll want the dough to rise for 4-5 hours.
After that, take your dough out and knead out any air bubbles. This part is the most fun where you’ll feel like a real chef. Twist, roll and knead your dough into a round 12 inch pie. You can flip it into the air (just watch out for your fan!) and pull apart the dough to shape. This may take a minute, so if you have a dough roller it might save you some time. Once your dough is rolled out, add your toppings!
A classic margherita pizza has tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. But the toppings I listed before is what I add for that extra amazing flavor.
One secret to making margherita pizza is the timing of the mozzarella. Above, you’ll see my pizza right before I put it in the oven. I set my timer to 8 minutes and then took the pizza out, added the mozzarella and put it back in for about another 6-7 minutes. Theres something about a slightly melted cheese that makes all the difference.
I hope you’ve gotten sufficiently hungry and are feeling confident in your pizza endeavors. Remember, pizza is simple. It shouldn’t be complicated or ornate. The less ingredients, the better the flavor. Let me know how your pizzas turn out in the comments below!