Even in Italy, not all pizzas are alike. There’s the kind “al taglio”—cut into squares—that are usually a little thick. This pizza is made by putting the dough in enormous greased baking pans and it is then sold at the windows of little shops around town. There’s the super-thin kind that Roman bakers are masters at preparing: nice and crunchy on the bottom, not greasy at all, and even the topping is light. Lastly, there’s the Neapolitan kind, famous around the world, which we discussed a few weeks ago. The dough changes, the preparation changes, the way it’s baked changes. With the help of Davide Longoni, one of Milan’s best-known and most popular bakers, and the Cucinoteca traditional cooking school, here are all the secrets for making the three versions.
Dough for pan pizza and Roman “pizza stirata”
500 g (17.6 oz.) type 2 flour (first clear flour)
400 g (13.5 fl. oz.) water
1.5 g (0.05 oz.) brewer’s yeast 75 g (2.6 oz.) sourdough starter 12.5 g (0.44 oz.) Salt
10 g (0.35 oz.) olive oil
Add all the water to the flour and knead for about 3 minutes. Set aside for 30 to 60 minutes to permit dough autolysis to occur, meaning the production of gluten via a natural process. At this point, add the sourdough starter and brewer’s yeast to the dough. Knead for a few minutes until smooth. Add the salt and knead for a couple of minutes, and then add the oil. Grease a bowl well and place the dough in it. Every 10 minutes, take out the dough, knead it and fold it over on itself a couple of times. Repeat this twice. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 18 hours. Shape into little balls.
FOR PAN PIZZA
Use enough dough balls for the size of the baking pan. Grease the baking pan well and flatten the dough into it. The dough should be less than 3/8” thick.
FOR ROMAN “PIZZA STIRATA”
Flour a pastry board. Handle the dough ball carefully to avoid “deflating” it. Flour the surface of the dough ball. Roll out with both hands, uniformly distributing the air in the ball. Place the pizza on a well-floured pizza peel. Season with a little tomato sauce or oil and coarse salt, and bake in a hot oven at 520°F for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and wait for 12 minutes before adding any toppings. Return the pizza to the oven for 2 or 3 more minutes.
Neapolitan pizza dough
INGREDIENTS300 g (10.5 oz.) strong flour 175 g (5.9 fl. oz.) water
9 g (0.3 oz.) salt
1 g (0.035 oz.) yeast
Pour all the water, the salt, the yeast and 10% of the flour into a metal bowl. Stir and sprinkle in the remaining flour until the dough seems stiff. As soon as the dough is smooth, set it aside to rest for 2 hours at room temperature. Roll into balls weighing 180 to 250 g (6.3–8.8 oz.) each. Set the dough balls aside to rise for 6 hours at room temperature, after which they can be used over the next 6 hours. Flatten the balls into disks by pushing outward from the center, using the fingers of both hands. Flip the disk over several times, continuing to flatten it. The disk should be just over 1/8” thick. Once you have made the disks, add the desired topping and bake at 900°F (according to specifications for Neapolitan pizza, it should be baked in a wood-burning stove for about 90 seconds).
You can make a pizza marinara, topping it with tomato sauce, garlic, oregano and olive oil. Or try a pizza margherita: tomato sauce, TSG (Traditional Specialties Guaranteed) mozzarella cut into strips or cubes, basil and olive oil.