Posted on February 06 2018
Living in Connecticut affords me the opportunity to act like a pizza expert and snob. Connecticut and New Haven in particular has some of the best ranked pizza joints in the country.
From Pepe’s, Sally’s, Modern & Bar in New Haven to Letizia’s in Norwalk and PizzaCo in Stratford – our tiny little state knows how to make a good pie. My personal favorite is a bacon and onion pie from Pepe’s. Thin crust, irregular cut slices, slight burn on the bottom – a perfect pizza in my opinion.
With that being said – I still maintain that the best pizza is the one you make from scratch – at home. I also believe there is no fancy equipment needed – I do not have an outdoor pizza oven, I don’t utilize a pizza stone, all I use is my regular oven and a cast iron pan.
A good pizza all starts with the dough. A lot of people claim the reason why NY and CT pizza is so good – and why the west coast can’t make a great pizza is because of the water that makes up the dough. I don’t know if that is true or not – I don’t know enough about whats in our water – but I do know Californians can’t make pizza.
If I am running short of time, or plain lazy I will buy my dough in a plastic bag at the grocery store – or go to the local pizza place and ask them to sell me some dough – which they typically will – but it will likely be overpriced.
You can make your own dough at home that is just as good, if not better than anyone else and the ingredients are as simple as it is to make it.
All you need for good pizza dough:
20 ounces of all purpose flour
12 ounces of 100 degree water
1 ounce olive oil
.4 ounces of salt
.2 ounces of yeast
- Stir the yeast in to the 100 degree water – let it sit and bubble for 5 – 10 minutes
- Add the yeasted water to a bowl with the flour and salt
- Mix, mix, mix, mix for about 10 minutes or so. This process is made easy with a stand mixer/kitchen=aid – I don’t have one of those so I do it all by hand.
- You know you are done mixing when you take a little sample piece, flatten it out like a tiny mini pizza and start pulling stretching – if the dough rips easily and quickly – mix some more – if its good some good elasticity – you’re done.
- Take the dough out and create a ball, constantly pulling the dough over itself so you make a little bun with a smooth, stretched tight top surface. You want to keep pulling the dough underneath it to create that top
- Once that bun is looking good, add some oil to y9our bowl, drop your bun in and cover with a hand towel for 2 hours
Once your two hours is up its time to start cooking. First heat that oven up – I like to put it around 425, and stick your cast iron pan in there to warm up as well. You can make 2 – 3 pizzas out of this recipe – just depends how big your cast iron is and how thick you like your dough.
Cut off a piece and then start stretching. You don’t have to throw it up in the air like a TV chef, and you can use a rolling pin, although I believe this compacts the dough and prevents it from rising as much as a hand tossed dough.
Carefully take out the cast iron pan from the hot oven. Scatter some cornmeal in the pan to prevent sticking and stretch the dough out , you can drape some over the side if need be.
Now comes the time for the toppings. I typically go traditional, sauce, cheese then a veggie and a meat – but feel free to do whatever you like best. Tomatoes and basil? Sauce, mozz and pepperoni? This is the fun part and if you have little ones a good time for them to get involved – being careful again about the hot pan.
Once covered in topping goodness stick it back in the oven – and this will only take about 10 – 15 minutes – check it often and you will get a feeling for how long your oven will take and when is a good time to pull it out.
The pizza should slide right out of your pan with a little help from a pair of tongs. I let the pizza chill out for a minute or two before cutting in to let the cheese settle down a bit from its hot oven ride.
Slicing up your pizza for the masses. For pizza as small as your cast iron pan it is possible to use your largest kitchen knife – but that is boring. You could use a pizza wheel – but that’s so 1984 – why not use an authentic maple pizza rocker from RusticWares?
Our hand crafted, New England maple sourced rock-hard Ambrosia Maple pizza rocker not only looks great – it is the perfect thing for cutting in to your pizza. Simply rock the cutter back and forth and after one or two rocks your pizza is sliced up and you look great doing it.
Clean up is easy – a quick wash with warm soap water and a sponge is all it takes (no dishwashers) and set it off to dry.