Pizza – Napoli Style!


Have you ever had a wood-fired pizza fresh out of the oven. Steaming hot, the cheese melted into a oozy puddle over rich tomato sauce and fresh basil, the crust bubbled up crisp, tender, and lightly charred with a smoky scent. Oh yeah, and baked under 2 minutes? Now that’s how a true Napoli style pizza should be baked. But how do you achieve baking a pizza like this without building your own wood-fired brick oven?

Blackstone Patio/Pizza Oven

Blackstone Patio/Pizza Oven

Well the answer is my new Blackstone Patio/Pizza Oven. It is just like using a wood-fired brick oven. Pizzas bake in under 2 minutes at 750ºF or hotter. Because the pizza baked so quickly at this hot temperature the crust stays moist and tender, with a crisp exterior that is blistered and gets slightly charred, giving that smokey wood-fired oven quality to the pizza.  The oven is fueled by propane and the motor that turns the baking stone runs on batteries or can be plugged in to operate. The temperature of the oven is easy to control, just like your home oven would be. The oven only takes 10 to 12 minutes to preheat, making it perfect to bake and make more than just pizza in it. I’ve baked Rosemary Sea Salt Focaccia, roasted vegetables, and roasted Lemon Garlic Shrimp in the oven with perfect results.

Focaccia bake in the Blackstone Patio/Pizza Oven

Focaccia bake in the Blackstone Patio/Pizza Oven

Having built 2 wood-fired brick ovens. I’ve had the opportunity to bake hundreds of pizzas in this style of oven. Each oven costing thousands of dollars, space, labor, and time to build. The ovens take at least 4 hours to preheat in order to bake the pizzas at 750º to 800ºF and then require more wood as you are baking the pizzas. The home oven can’t even come close to replicating a wood-fired oven even with a baking stone, preheating for 1 hour at the hottest temperature possible. My oven can only get to 550ºF and takes about 10 to 12 minutes to bake a pizza. Producing a more cracker like crust since the dough looses most of the water in the baking process.

Since my purchase 3 weeks ago. I have made 32 pizzas. Now mind you I didn’t eat all of these pizza myself. We’ve had friends over to our home and even took my pizza making on the road to my brother home too.

Polly-o MozzChoosing the best ingredients possible makes all the difference in the world when making pizzas. Take a trip to your favorite deli or grocery store and ask for samples to choose what you like and has the best flavor. I like to shop at Hiller’s in Ann Arbor and Zingerman’s Deli for toppings like Parmigiano-Reggiano, mozzarella, sopressata, capicola, pancetta, and prosciutto. Hiller’s carries POLLY-O Whole Milk Mozzarella making for a creamier and richer mouth fill.

The recipe for the pizza dough uses the poolish (preferment) method and requires being made a day in advanced, shaped, covered, and refrigerated. Refrigerating the dough slows the fermentation process of the yeast (they go dormant) and allows the enzymatic action to convert more of the starch into sugars and the formation of butyric acid, giving a buttery/milky quality to the dough. Which in turn translates as more flavor in dough and relaxes the gluten to make stretching the dough easy. I’ve also included a recipe for a no cook pizza sauce.

Equipment: Pizza Dough

  • Measuring Cups & Spoons or Electric Scale
  • 6 Quart Mixing Bowl
  • Rubber Spatula
  • Plastic Dough Scrape
  • Metal Dough Scrape
  • 1/4 Sheet Pan

Pizza Dough (2 pieces)

  • Measured        Weight          Grams         Ingredients
  • 1 cup            0.50 lb.          226 g.          Water (room temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp.        1/2 tsp.          1/2 tsp.        Instant Yeast
  • 2 1/3 cup      0.75 lb.          340 g.          All Purpose Flour (King Arthur)
  • 1 tsp.            0.01 lb.          5 g.              Sea Salt (fine)
  1. In the mixing bowl combine the water, instant yeast, and half of the all purpose flour. Stir with the rubber spatula to make a thick batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with the rubber spatula.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let ferment for 1 hour at room temperature. The mixture should be full of bubbles after an hour.

    Poolish after 1 hour

    Poolish after 1 hour

  3. After 1 hour. Add the sea salt and remaining all purpose flour to the bowl and stir together using the rubber spatula until the dough is just shaggy.

    Dough stirred together and at shaggy stage

    Dough stirred together and at shaggy stage

  4. Using the plastic scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the work surface. The dough will be sticky.

    Turning the dough onto the work surface

    Turning the dough onto the work surface

  5. Knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes or until the dough becomes less sticky and smoother. Using the plastic scrape the gather the dough together and scrape the dough off your hands.

    Kneading sticky dough

    Kneading sticky dough

  6. Lightly oil the mixing bowl and place the kneaded dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let ferment for 1 hour.
  7. After 1 hour. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and fold the dough. This will degas and strengthen the dough.
  8. Place the dough back into the oiled bowl and ferment for 1-1/2 hours.
  9. After 1-1/2 hours. Lightly flour the work surface and turn the dough onto the surface.
  10. Using a metal bench knife divide the dough into 2 pieces.

    Dividing the dough

    Dividing the dough

  11. Shape each piece into a tight round ball and let rest seam side down on an unfloured work surface for 2 minutes.

    Dough final shaped and resting

    Dough rounded, shaped, and resting

  12. Lightly oil the 1/4 sheet tray.
  13. Using the metal bench knife move the dough rounds onto the oil sheet tray. Drizzle a little oil onto the dough rounds and rub the surface to lightly coat the dough.

    Oiled sheet tray and dough rounds

    Oiled sheet tray and dough rounds

  14. Wrap the dough/sheet tray in plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator overnight. The dough will be used directly from the refrigerator the next day. (Dough can be held in the refrigerator for 3 days)

    Dough covered and ready for the refrigerator

    Dough covered and ready for the refrigerator

Equipment: for Pizza SauceCento San Marzano

  • Can Opener
  • 2 Quart Bowl
  • Food Mill or Mesh Strainer
  • Microplane® Zester
  • Mortar and Pestle or Spice Grinder
  • Rubber Spatula

San Marzano Pizza Sauce

  • Measured           Ingredients
  • 28 oz. can           Peeled San Marzano Tomatoes (Cento)
  • 1 tsp.                  Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp.               Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp.               Dried Basil
  • 1/2 tsp.              Dried Oregano
  • 2 tsp.                 Fresh Garlic (grated on a fine Microplane®)
  1. Place the food mill over the mixing bowl. Pour the tomatoes into the food mill. Slightly crush the tomatoes with your fingers.
  2. Mill the tomatoes to remove the seeds and remaining fibers.
  3. In a mortar place the kosher salt, black pepper, dried basil, and dried oregano. Use the pestle to grind and pulverize the ingredients together.
  4. Pour the ground ingredients into the tomato puree and add the grated garlic.
  5. Stir the mixture together and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. The sauce will hold for 1 week in the refrigerator.

Equipment: Baking the Pizzas

  • Plastic Scrape
  • Small Bowl of All Purpose Flour (for dusting the work surface and dough)
  • Metal Pizza Peel
  • Metal Pizza Trays (for serving baked pizza on)
  • Wheel Pizza Cutter
  • Blackstone Patio/Pizza Oven, Home Oven with a Baking Stone , or Wood-Fired Oven (Preheat oven appropriately for baking pizzas)
Pressing the dough

Forming the rim of the dough

Shaping, Topping, and Baking the Pizzas (Margherita with Pancetta)

  1. Use the pizza dough directly from the refrigerator.
  2. Generously flour the work surface and place a piece of dough onto the floured surface. Flour the top of the dough.
  3. Using your finger tip press the dough down 1/2-inch from the edge to form a rim of dough. Turning the dough as necessary to completely shape the rim around the dough.
  4. Using your palm press the center of the dough to flatten and degas the center.
  5. Pick up the dough and place the bottom (the floured side) of the dough onto your fist. Place your fist on the outside edges of the dough where the rim begins. Slowly stretch your fist away from each other. Turning the dough and repeat until the dough is about 14-inches in diameter.
  6. Place the stretched dough onto the flour work surface and let rest for 15 seconds.
  7. Lightly flour the metal pizza peel.
  8. Lift and place the stretched dough onto the lightly flour pizza peel.
  9. Place 1/2 cup of pizza sauce onto the center of the dough and spread evenly over the surface to the rim.
  10. Place fresh basil leaves over the tomato sauce and sprinkle the top lightly with grated parmesan.
  11. Place 4 oz. of diced whole milk mozzarella evenly over the surface of the pizza.
  12. top with thinly sliced pancetta.
  13. Lift the pizza peel and give a little shake to loosen the pizza from the peel. This insures the pizza is not sticking before being slide onto the baking surface.
  14. Slide the pizza onto the preheated baking stone and bake until the center is bubbling and the edges of the dough are blistered, browned, and crisp.
  15. Remove the pizza from the oven and place onto a metal pizza pan to serve.
  16. Cool for 1 minute before cutting with the wheeled pizza cutter.
  17. Serve immediately.
Pizza Margherita with Pancetta

Pizza Margherita with Pancetta


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