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Author Notes: Jim Lahey has refined his revolutionary no-knead bread technique for pizza and, astonishingly, it's even easier. Though Lahey loves smart, unusual toppings like charred thai eggplant with bonito flakes, shiitake with walnut onion puree, and cheese piled with spinach leaves, here we went with his version of the classic Margherita Pie. Lahey would want you to feel free to tinker, and to feel free to freeze the dough. Adapted very slightly from My Pizza: The Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home (Clarkson Potter, March 2012). —Genius Recipes
Makes: four 12-inch pizza crusts
Prep time: 20 hrs
Cook time: 5 min
Making the Dough
grams (17 1/2 ounces or about 3 3/4 unsifted cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough
gram (1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
grams (11/2 cups) water
- In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and, with a wooden spoon and/or your hands, mix thoroughly. We find it easiest to start with the spoon, then switch to your hands (see slideshow).
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature (about 72°) for 18 hours or until it has more than doubled. It will take longer in a chilly room and less time in a very warm one.
- Flour a work surface and scrape out the dough. Divide it into 4 equal parts and shape them. For each portion, start with the right side of the dough and pull it toward the center, then do the same with the left, then the top, then the bottom. (The order doesn't actually matter; what you want is four folds.) Shape each portion into a round and turn seam side down. Mold the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour.
- If you don't intend to use the dough right away, wrap the balls individually in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth, for 2 to 3 hours before needed.
Assembling and Baking the Margherita Pie
balls pizza dough from above
28-ounce can best quality peeled Italian tomatoes (or fresh, peeled Roma tomatoes, if they're in season)
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
teaspoon fine sea salt
pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into large chunks
fresh basil leaves, or to taste
cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Put the pizza stone on a rack in a gas oven about 8 inches from the broiler. Preheat the oven on bake at 500° F for 30 minutes.
- Shaping the disk (Method 1): Take one ball of dough and generously flour it, your hands, and the work surface. Gently press down and stretch the ball of dough out to 10-12 inches. Don't worry if it's not round. Don't handle it more than necessary; you want some of the gas bubbles to remain in the dough. It should look slightly blistered. Flour the peel (or an unrimmed baking sheet) and lay the disk onto the center. It is now ready to be topped.
- Shaping the disk (Method 2): Take one ball of dough and generously flour it, your hands, and the work surface. Gently press down and stretch the ball of dough out to 6-8 inches. Supporting the disk with your knuckles toward the outer edge and lifting it above the work surface, keep stretching the dough by rotating it with your knuckles, gently pulling it wider until the disk reaches 10-12 inches. Set the disk on a well-floured peel (or unrimmed baking sheet). It is now ready to be topped.
- Drain tomatoes and pass through a food mill or just squish them with your hands—it's messy but fun. Stir in the olive oil and salt. The sauce will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Switch the oven to broil for 10 minutes. With the dough on the peel, spoon the tomato sauce over the surface and spread it evenly, leaving about an inch of the rim untouched. Distribute 10 to 12 hunks of mozzarella (about 7 ounces) on top.
- With quick, jerking motions, slide the pie onto the stone. Broil for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes under gas (somewhat longer with an electric oven), until the top is bubbling and the crust is nicely charred but not burnt.
- Using the peel, transfer the pizza to a tray or serving platter. Sprinkle the Parmigiano and salt evenly over the pizza. Distribute the basil on top. Slice and serve immediately.
- This recipe is a Community Pick!