The Best Pizza
Traditional Neopolitan or New York style crust topped however you please.
2 Large Pizzas
About this Recipe
Well over a decade ago, I made it my mission to master pizza making. I wanted to be able to turn out pizzeria-quality pies from my kitchen, and I wanted to be able to do it on demand. I wanted the results to be consistent and to make my picky kids declare it delicious.
Happily, after years of trial and error, I managed to do just that. This pizza recipe has a delicious New York or Neopolitan style dough that works up perfectly every time, and is SO flavorful from the long rest time in the fridge. And that’s the secret: you MUST make this dough ahead of time and let the flavors develop. At least 24 hours, but up to 72. After it’s done its slow rise in the fridge, you can freeze it if you make a double batch or end up postponing your pizza night. When you’re ready to make them, just let it defrost in the fridge overnight. When it’s time to stretch the dough, be generous with the flour! Put each dough round into a bowl of flour and turn it to coat it fully on all sides before you begin working it.
Next: Cheese. Use whole-milk mozzarella as your main cheese. Skim mozzarella doesn’t melt the same and will burn too quickly under the high heat necessary to crisp up the crust to perfection. I usually put down a light layer of whole milk mozz and then fill in with a 6-cheese Italian blend.
I usually make my own sauce too, so that’s part of the recipe, but if you’re running short on time, a jar of marinara or pizza sauce works just as well. If you make your own, remember to do so early in the day so it has time to cool. If hot, the sauce will melt the dough.
The final trick: preheat your pans along with your oven, especially if you’re using stones (recommended)! A hot pan gets the bottom of the crust crispy at the same rate as the top, eliminating the problem of uncooked, soggy dough in the middle of your pizza.
- Parchment paper
- Pizza peel
- Baking stones
For the dough
- 3 cups (398 grams) all purpose or bread flour
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (247 g) water
- ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
For the crust preparation
- Olive oil
- Garlic powder
- Italian seasoning
- Grated parmesan
For the sauce
- 1 29-ounce can tomato sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground oregano
- ¼ teaspoon basil
- ¼ teaspoon marjoram
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the toppings
- 4 cups whole-milk mozzarella
- 2 cups 6-Cheese Italian blend
- Other toppings of choice, like pepperoni, bacon, prosciutto, ham, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, onions, etc.
- 24-72 hours before, make the dough. Pour water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or, if mixing by hand, into a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar, and mix until a shaggy dough forms. Add the olive oil and then knead for 4-6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Divide into 2 equal pieces. Get out 2 quart-sized zipper bags and add a small amount of olive oil to each one, rubbing until the oil is covering the bag. Put a dough section into each bag, seal, and store in the fridge for at least 24 hours, or up to 72. After 24 hours, the dough can be frozen if you’re making ahead.
- At least a few hours before you’re making the pizza, prepare the sauce. Stir all sauce ingredients together in a medium sauce pan and simmer on low for 30 minute – 1 hour, until sauce thickens. Cool completely.
- Prepare your parchment paper. This makes transferring pizzas to the oven easy and keeps your stones clean. Trace out your pizza stones or pans on the paper and cut to size.
- An hour ahead of time, preheat the oven. Preheat to 450°F with the stones or pans in it. Preheating the pans or stones is crucial for getting a crust that isn’t soggy and cooks evenly, especially if you’re using baking stones.
- Stretch your dough. Get out a medium mixing bowl and put some flour in it. Take the dough from one of the bags and put it in the flour, turning to coat thoroughly. Turn out onto one of your pre-cut pieces of parchment paper. Shape into a rough circle with your hands, then form a crust by pressing with the fingers of your dominant hand while providing a wall with the palm of your other hand. Turn the dough, pressing in the crust line while you go. Once you return to your starting place, you should have an even circle. Now begin spreading the dough, using the tips of your fingers and starting in the center, then pressing outward with the fingertips. Flip the dough over. Pressing your palm into the center, stretch your fingers outward. Do this all the way around the pizza. If it’s still not big enough, give it a spin-toss in the air to stretch it more, or flip it over and stretch again. Repeat with the other piece of dough.
- Season your crust. Drizzle some olive oil onto the edges of the crust, spreading with a pastry brush or paper towel. Sprinkle garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and some grated parmesan over the crust edge.
- Top your pie. Pour some cooled sauce onto the pizza, spreading to a thin layer—you don’t want it too thick. You should have enough sauce to make 2 batches of this pizza; you can freeze the leftover for next time. Add cheese and whatever toppings you want.
- Bake. Use a pizza peel to transfer the parchment paper and pizzas onto the preheated pans. Bake the pizzas for 8-10 minutes, until cheese is bubbly. Watch them carefully! Depending on your oven, they could take as few as 6 minutes. When done, remove carefully from the oven, let them sit for a minute, then slice. Enjoy!
From the Books
In Shadowed Loyalty, Sabina and Lorenzo enjoy a few slices of cheese pizza from Pompei’s, a pizzaria still in operation today! Though these days “Chicago pizza” means deep dish, not so in the 1920s. They still would have been eating the classic Neopolitan crust that is now deemed “New York style.”
My characters in A Royal Tea enjoy a good pizzaria pie too!
A Louisiana favorite shines with fresh duck, making this a perfect recipe for hunters; you can tailor the spices to your tastes!
A fresh salad of parsley, mint, and green onions, with roma tomatoes and bulgur wheat marinated in a tangy dressing.
Belgian Hot Chocolate
If you love hot chocolate, you’ll fall in love with this rich, decadent drink of melted chocolate and creamy milk.