Mission: Very Possible

Mission: Very Possible

The ingredients:

1 ½ cups warm water

1 Envelope Dry Yeast

½ tsp of sugar, or honey

3 ½ cups type “00” or bread flour

1 tsp salt

The process:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast and sugar or honey in the warm water. “Proof” for about five minutes to make sure the yeast is active. You’re looking for just a little bit of foam to form on the surface of the liquid, and that familiar yeasty smell.
  2. Add the flour to the water and yeast, and mix at low speed until combined using the mixer’s dough hook. When the flour has thoroughly combined with the water, add the salt. (Salt is more than just flavoring here: it buffers the yeast too. I add it late to give the yeast a good head start.)
  3. Let the mixer continue kneading the dough for about 15 minutes. Take a peek every now and then. You may find it necessary to add a spoonful or two of flour. The idea is to have the dough gathered on the dough hook, not sticking to the side of the bowl.
  4. The completed dough should be smooth and elastic, and only just slightly sticky, not unlike Silly Putty. Turn the dough out onto a floured board or countertop, and shape into a big happy dome. Divide into four pieces, reserve one, and wrap the other three in plastic wrap, place into a freezer-proof bag, and freeze for later use.
  5. Place the fourth piece of dough that you reserved into a large bowl that has been generously coated with extra-virgin olive oil, making sure to completely coat the dough with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a slightly damp kitchen towel. Leave this to rise for about an hour and a half to two hours, until the dough is puffed and not quite twice the size.
  6. Preheat your oven to as hot a temperature as it will go. 500 degrees is best.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a board and shape into a ball. Dust the ball with flour, and start pressing down with your fingertips working from the center out to the edges. Turn the dough over, flour again, and shape into an approximately 8-inch round. Transfer to a pizza pan, top as desired, and bake until done, about 10 minutes. Yes, there is a learning curve with this step. Remember: it is just a ball of dough. If you overwork it the dough will begin to resist shaping. If that happens, cover the dough with an upside down bowl for about ten minutes and then resume. The dough should have relaxed by then, but if not, just let it rest longer.
  8. Slice or eat Neapolitan-style, by tearing into pieces.
  9. To use frozen dough: allow to thaw on your countertop for about a half hour. Then unwrap, place in bowl as described in step 5 above, allow to thaw and rise in a warm place for about four hours, and continue as normal. (I find it intensely gratifying to know that I have dough waiting in my freezer. The dough will keep in your freezer for a couple of months.)

    Press the dough outward with your fingertips...

    Press the dough outward with your fingertips...

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