BBA Challenge #25: Pizza Napoletana

And now for a bit of a departure from rustic boules, elongated batards, hearty loaves…it’s time for pizza!

For this next BBA Challenge, we’re following Peter Reinhart’s recipe for Pizza Napoletana in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice

I could hardly believe how many steps were involved in this recipe, and how long it was overall.   It’s not so much that it’s a difficult recipe, but just that there are so many special little tricks, like chilling the flour itself before you even mix the dough.  The idea, overall, is to keep the dough as cool as possible to allow the maximum amount of flavor to develop.  So as you might guess, you make the dough the day before and keep it in the fridge until it’s time to make the pizza.  Unlike most of the other doughs, however, this is meant to be quite sticky.  I have gotten so programmed during this challenge to avoid adding too much water that I underdid it this time.  Only when I read the recipe’s multiple suggestions and tips on how to avoid getting sticky dough all over yourself whiile forming little boules to set overnight to chill did I realize my error!  (I’m visualizing being trapped in strands of taffy as more in line with the goal).   It was too late to add more water, and I wondered how much of a problem this would be the next day when trying to get the dough to extend into whisper thin, delicately crusty pizzas!  Were they doomed already, so young in life?

The dough seemed to get stickier overnight in the fridge, I imagine just from the humidity of the refridgerator, so my mistake was partially self-correcting.  (In most cases I wouldn’t be so happy to see damp, white-ish depressions on the surface of my dough this, but in this case I was pleased!)  The next step is to take the dough out of the fridge 2 hours before you make the pizza and flatten.  I forgot to flatten out my rounds until about a half hour before I was ready to bake.  Why start doing things right at this point?

I wasn’t sure how the actual pizza making process was going to go.  Peter Reinhart literally does instruct you to throw the pizza up in the air to shape it!  This was potentially fraught with disaster–but I guess if you drop it, it will get baked anyway right?  (As Julia Child says, “Who’s to know?”).  My husband looked on and kindly commented, “I’m waiting for one of these to land on your stomach.”  But I actually managed to avoid any unfortunate splats, on my stomach or otherwise, though it did involve a few ungracious moves by my 8-month pregnant body to make a catch!  I found that throwing the pizza as if I were throwing a frisbee vertically seemed to get the centripetal force and the height that (I presume, from corny tv shows and cartoons) is needed get the pizza in shape.  I also ran my hands around the edges of the disc, letting the majority of the dough hang loosely, to stretch it a little more–not sure that’s official technique but it seemed to help.

Borrowing from the recipe I used the last time I made pizza, rather than make a sauce I simply opened a can of diced tomatoes (preferably you use whole tomatoes and break them up yourself, squishing them between your fingers).  I think one large 28 ounce can is just right for this amount of pizza, as is about a pound of cheese.  We ended up with three types:

Basic marinara (yes, that is dried basil.  I know).


…and artichoke (I do love my canned artichokes–note to squeeze out as much canning liquid as possible to prevent a soggy crust)

This was a great recipe.  Not at all hard, just a bit of forethought required.  Also, you can make the dough and freeze it.  I would love to get a good Friday night tradition going of pizza. We only needed about a half recipe for a satisfying meal, which means 3 boules can go in the freezer for next time. 

(I made the full recipe this time, which just meant we had leftovers.  Someone at work saw me heating one of these up and asked if I had brought in a frozen pizza and, well, I have to admit I bristled a bit (but just internally) as I explained that we had made pizza the night before.  I don’t think my co-worker was suitably impressed 😉 but I enjoyed my lunch all the same!)


One thought on “BBA Challenge #25: Pizza Napoletana

  1. Wow, you tossed the pizza dough! I’m impressed. I was too afraid to do that and just used my rolling pin. I’m so jealous that you can heat up food at your workplace. I always have to bring sandwiches because there is no microwave. This usually means no warm meal for me during the week which is really annoying. I don’t cook in the evening because the kids had their main meal at school and daycare, Michael goes to the cafeteria to get a main meal at noon… I could go to the university’s cafeteria, but the food there is REALLY bad!!!!! I’m so spoiled now that I stayed at home for so long and cooked all my meals, so that I don’t want to eat crappy cafeteria food anymore.

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