The Perfect Pizza

Pizza dough - four steps.

When Peter told me he'd been craving pizza for two weeks I expected that he'd be making a trip to John's on Bleecker Street for a large pie.  But a few minutes after he left the apartment I got a phone call asking the difference between instant yeast and the other kind.  "You're making your own dough?  Are you crazy?"  I didn't have much faith.  But twenty minutes later he was back with two bags from whole foods and a game plan.  We invited friends over to make it official (Tiler and Robbie, who you can see so scantily clad in the October issue of Vanity Fair that you might wonder how on earth they manage to eat pizza) and made a back up plan.  If the dough didn't rise, or it was awful, there was always Forcella around the corner.

Pete nailed it.  This pizza - I swear - was the best pizza I've had in 2013.  It was delicious, the perfect texture, and he got the toppings just right.*  The dough was easy and didn't make too much of a mess.  We don't have a kitchen aid and Pete thought the food processor would be cheating, so it was made by hand and didn't seem to cause him any extra trouble.

We did buy premade San Marzano pizza sauce, available at Whole Foods, which was a big time saver.  But when I make my own pizza sauce, I really love the one in the Big Sur Bakery Cookbook.

Use Mark Bittman's pizza dough recipe, available here or in his book How to Cook Everything.  How to Cook Everything and the Joy of Cooking are two must have cook books and make excellent gifts for bridal showers. 

Toppings: Gruyere, Smoked Ham, Jalapenos, Garlic, Onions and Artichokes

Our toppings included: chopped garlic (finely chop and sprinkle over the sauce prior to baking), thin sliced white onion, Flying Pigs Farm smoked ham (available on the west side of the Union Sq. Farmer's Market on Saturdays), canned artichokes, pickled jalapeno peppers, fresh mozzarella and shredded gruyere.  If you use any toppings that have extra water in them (like the artichokes and jalapenos), wring them out in cheese cloth, a dish towel or a couple of paper towels before adding them to the pizza.  You don't want your pizza to be a watery mess.

Pizza ready for the oven!

Once your pizza is assembled, bake at 500 degrees for 8-12 minutes on an Emile Henry pizza stone (another great wedding or shower gift).  Let rest for two to four minutes to cool off before serving (if you have a large cutting board you can serve your pizza directly on your pizza stone, placed on top of the cutting board).

Expert Tips:  Use high quality bottled water rather than tap water for your dough as well as organic flour, and Celtic sea salt.  Make your pizza pie thin-ish for the best texture

We made three of these guys - I ate half of one (cold - still delicious) for lunch the next day


*To be fair: the toppings are the standard order of our friend Wilson.  We copied (with a tweak or two).