Published July 1, 2006.
Authentic recipes for this Neapolitan pizza call for an 800-degree oven, two days of proofing, and a dough expert's hands. We wanted real Margherita--hold the hassle.
Classic pizza Margherita is characterized by a crispy crust garnished with nothing more than a thin veil of tomato sauce, creamy mozzarella, and fresh basil. The problem? Most of these recipes depend on the stratospheric temperatures of a commercial oven to deliver a sufficiently thin and crispy crust.
We wanted to refit this classic pizza recipe for the home oven. And we didn't want our recipe to take too much time (no multiple rising sessions) or effort.
Our tests proved that a great pizza crust depends more on tenderness and crispness than crumb structure, so we didn't need to spend much time kneading the dough to develop gluten (which gives bread chew). In fact, we found that a food processor made quick work of our dough, mixing it in just two minutes. We also found we could shape the dough right out of the food processor, eliminating one of the two rises most bread recipes require. After one only hour, we were ready to roll--but the wet, sticky dough was tricky to roll as thinly as we wanted. Our solution was to use 1 part cake flour to 2 parts all-purpose flour, a combination that made the dough more tender. Our pizza also stayed light and tender after baking for 10 minutes in a 500 degree home oven (pizza in a commercial 800-degree oven cooks in less than 4 minutes, not enough time to turn tough and chewy). Developing the topping was easy. We pulsed canned diced tomatoes in a food processor, drained them to avoid a soggy crust, and added just a little sugar, salt, fresh basil, and garlic. Adding the fresh mozzarella halfway through the baking time preserved its fresh creamy texture and milky flavor.list of recipes