Margherita Pizza (from scratch)

 

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This is a recipe for making a thin crust, NY style margherita pizza from scratch. As in, making the dough, sauce, and cheese on your own! I made two 14″ pizzas with this recipe, and there was a lot of extra sauce left over. You should make the dough the night before, the sauce the morning of, and the cheese about 1 hour before.

Dough

I used this recipe from seriouseats, and adjusted the recipe to make two pies. The dough has to rest for a day (ish) in the refrigerator, and then rest at room temperature for at least 2 hours before you plan to bake.

  • 3 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1-2 tbsp of dry herbs of your choice (e.g. oregano, basil, garlic powder, thyme, rosemary, etc.)
  1. Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and stir in the yeast
  2. Mix the flour, herbs, and salt in a bowl by hand. Add olive oil and water slowly and in parts. Mix well with your hands by gently kneading the dough.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, knead for about 10 minutes. You want a smooth ball. Don’t fold the dough over on itself.
  4. Windowpane test: Break off a marble sized piece of the dough. Try to stretch it out as thin as possible. If you can see through the dough without breaking it (like a windowpane?), you’re finished. The gluten from the wheat makes the dough stretchy and nice. You have to knead and massage until you get to this point.
  5. Divide the dough in half. Store each half in a covered container. Let it rise for 1 day in the refrigerator.
  6. Remove from the refrigerator about 2 hours before baking to allow the dough to rest at room temperature.

Sauce

I used this recipe from seriouseats as my starting point, and adjusted the seasonings as follows. You have to simmer this thing for 2-3 hours.

  • 1 can of san marzano tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh basil with leaves attached, ~6 in long
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 tsp sugar
  1. Use a food processor or blender to puree the tomatoes. It should be slightly chunky.
  2. Heat the butter and oil until the butter has melted.
  3. Add garlic, oregano, pepper, salt, thyme, and rosemary for about 3 minutes. Avoid browning the garlic.
  4. Add the tomatoes, basil, onion and sugar. Heat until the mixture is simmering.
  5. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and cook until the sauce is reduced by half. This should take 1-2 hours.
  6. Season with additional salt.

Mozzarella Cheese

I used this recipe from urbancheesecraft, and adjusted the seasonings as follows. There are great step-by-step photos on their site. It takes about an hour to make. You need a thermometer.

  • 1/2 gallon of whole milk
  • 3/4 tsp citric acid
  • 1/8 of a rennet tablet
    • These are enzymes for the cheese. Traditionally, they are found in the stomach lining of sheep and goats. You can get vegetarian ones from Amazon. Store the extras in the freezer.
  • 1/2 tsp of dried basil (or whatever other herb you want)
  • 1 tsp cheese salt (non-iodized salt works fine too)
  • 1 cup of chlorine free water, divided in two
    • You can dechlorinate tap water by boiling it for about 20 minutes. Allow it to cool completely before using.
  1. Dissolve the rennet in 1/2 cup of dechlorinated water. Stir, set aside.
  2. Dissolve the citric acid in 1/2 cup of dechlorinated water. Stir, set aside.
  3. Heat the milk and citric acid solution in a large pot to 90F, stirring to prevent scorching.
  4. Add the rennet solution and stir for ~20 seconds. Don’t overstir, as the rennet will not like this. Heat to 105F.
  5. The curds should be coagulating. You can slice them into 1 inch cubes at this point. Stir the cubes gently for another minute and take it off of the heat.
  6. Separate the curds from the whey by using a cheesecloth or a slotted spoon.
  7. Ladle the curds in a microwavable bowl. Heat them for about 1 minute.
  8. Use a spoon (or hands) to fold the curds over several times to distribute the heat. Drain the excess whey.
  9. Microwave again for about 30 seconds and gently knead the curd. The curd should be 135F to stretch properly.
  10. Add the salt and herbs. Knead them into the cheese. Stretch and fold the cheese about 10 times to mix well.
  11. You can shape the cheese into a ball, braid it, or whatever shape you like. I found that a ball was the easiest to slice for the pizza.
  12. The mozzarella is ready to use! I used 1/2 of the ball for each pie. If you have extra, it will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Putting the Pizza Together

  1. Place the 14.75 inch pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to the highest temperature possible. On my oven, this is 550F.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 14 inch diameter.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured plate, slab, or piece of cardboard. Whatever you choose, it should be large enough to accommodate the dough. We will put the toppings on this surface, and the pizza will slide off easily to the stone in the oven.
  4. Ladle the sauce to the dough. Use as much or as little as you want!
  5. Slice the mozzarella thinly, and place on the pizza.
  6. Add whatever additional toppings you desire (jalapenos, mushrooms, extra onions, bell peppers, etc).
  7. Bake for about 5 minutes. Check the pizza by lifting an edge and checking the bottom. If it’s browned, it is ready. If not, cook for longer.
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