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Classic Mini Margherita Pizzas

Serves: Yields 8 individual 5-inch pizzas

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Neapolitan Pizza Dough (ingredients below)
  • Corn meal, as needed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed for brushing the dough
  • 4 to 6 fresh San Marzano or roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 pound of fresh mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella, sliced
  • 16 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces


Neapolitan Pizza Dough

Yield: 4 (10-inch) pizzas or 8 individual (5-inch) pizzas

  • 2 cups (11 ounces) bread flour, plus more as needed, and for work surface
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 envelope (2-¼ teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the bowl


Procedures:

In 1889, Queen Margherita walked out of the opera feeling a little hungry. She stopped at a restaurant and asked for something to snack on. Thrilled that the queen was in their restaurant, the chef prepared a pizza with sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil to match the colors of the Italian flag. Thus, the modern day pizza was born!

Authentic Neapolitan pizza dough is a simple, thin-crust pizza dough that originated in Naples in the 1800s. Originally, pizzas in Naples were made with a simple tomato sauce and vegetables. Cheese did not become a usual topping until the 1880s.


Make the dough: Place flour, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine. With mixer running on low speed, add water and olive oil, and mix for 1 minute to combine. Increase speed to medium and process until dough forms a slightly sticky ball, about 1 to 2 minutes. If ball does not form, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue mixing until ball forms. Coat a large mixing bowl with a thin film of olive oil. Transfer dough ball to prepared mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest until doubled in volume, about 1-½ to 2 hours.

When dough is ready, press it gently to remove air bubbles, and turn out on a lightly floured work surface. Using a bench scraper, divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a tight ball, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and allow dough to rest for 15 minutes before baking.

Make the pizza: Place a pizza stone in the lower third of your oven, and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Allow the pizza stone to preheat for at least 30 minutes.

Once your stone is preheated, you can start rolling out your dough. Dust work surface with flour. Flatten one dough ball to a thickness of ½ inch, and roll to a diameter of about 5 inches, keeping the remaining dough covered.

Transfer dough round to a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet and cover with another piece of parchment. Continue rolling dough and placing on the baking sheet, separating layers of rolled dough with additional sheets of parchment as needed. Cover stack of dough rounds with plastic wrap and set aside.

Sprinkle a pizza peel with some cornmeal and place a dough round on the peel. Give the peel a little shake to make sure that the dough moves freely and is not sticking. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the pizza base. Arrange the tomatoes and mozzarella over the pizza base.

Open the oven and slide the pizza off of the peel onto the pizza stone. Allow your pizza to cook until you have reached your desired crust, about 5 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven and place on a cutting board. If you let the pizza rest for 1 to 2 minutes before you cut it, as it will be easier to cut.

To serve: Garnish each pizza with about 1 to 2 torn basil leaves. Serve immediately.

Tips for Using a Pizza Stone

  • Before its first use, wash the stone with water. Never use detergent.
  • Place the stone in a cold oven and preheat the oven. Typically, pizza is baked at the maximum oven temperature, between 500 to 550-degrees.
  • Store the stone on the lowest rack of the oven, so it’s always handy for baking pizza or bread.
  • Do not use the stone to bake breads with high-fat content, because the fat will stain the porous stone.


Tips for Using a Pizza Peel

  • To prevent sticking, sprinkle the peel with flour, cornmeal or semolina before sliding it under the uncooked pizza crust or loaf of bread.
  • Place the pizza-shaped dough on the peel and then add the toppings.
  • Reach the peel into the oven and angle it downward. Shake it gently until the pizza slowly slides off the peel onto the stone.
  • To retrieve the finished pizza, slide the peel under the crust and guide it onto the peel.


Tested and perfected in the Sur La Table kitchen

 
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