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00 flour pizza

we’ve made our own pizza several [1] times [2] before, each time a little differently. the first time, i was trying out my baking stones [3], and this past summer, we tried making pizza on the grill. each time, i was amazed at how easy the process went and how delicious the end result was. this time around, i had a secret weapon to make the pizza even better – 00 flour.

the flour came from Kalustyan’s [4], a specialty foods store we visited in new york city. the place is basically a warehouse of spices, jams, mixes, olives and anything else you might have a hard time finding at your local supermarket. seriously, check out their website, and prepare to salivate.

in italy, flour is classified by how finely it is ground, from most coarse (2) to most fine (00). the classifications go deeper (there are even myriad types of 00 flour to choose from in italy), but the general rule is that 00 is best for pizza and pasta. i wanted to try it out and see how it compared to ordinary all-purpose flour.

everything i read about 00 flour before getting started assured me that it would extremely easy to use, which proved to be very true. the dough came together extremely quickly and cleanly, even as i mixed it with my bare hands. after a few rises, it was easy to shape into rough discs. handling the dough as little as possible results in a chewy, crispy crust, while overworking it gives you a dough that’s too dense and tough. luckily, these kept their shape without too much trouble.

one of the biggest challenges of making pizza at home is getting the oven hot enough (most home ovens don’t reach 800 F). when the girl and i moved into our new place last summer, i was skeptical that the electric oven we would now be using would stand up to the gas oven we had become accustomed to previously. to the contrary, the electric oven has heated more quickly and evenly, and in the case of baking pizza, finally gave us the just blackened melty mozzarella cheese we wanted.

here’s one with a pesto base, caramelized onions, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese. these pictures are making me hungry again.

this pizza (one of the favorites of the night) was topped with a bean salad, mexican cheese and cilantro. overall, the difference in taste between the 00 flour crust and the all-purpose flour crust (both recipes below) was pretty minimal. regardless, it still may be a fun idea to try again, either with a different 00 flour brand, or incorporating it into pasta rather than pizza.

dough recipe from The Fresh Loaf [5].

00 pizza dough (makes 3 pizzas)
500 gr 00 flour
1 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp salt
375 gr water (weighed, not measured)
1 Tbsp olive oil

1. whisk the dry ingredients together to get them evenly incorporated and add the water and olive oil. mix until combined and knead for just a minute or two.

2. let rest loosely covered in a large bowl at room temperature for 20 minutes. knead, and let rest for another 20 minutes. repeat this process two more times. cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight.

3. the following day, divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. if you want to use the dough immediately, let it rest a room temperature for 2 hours before attempting to shape and bake. the dough can also be kept in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for several weeks.

olive oil pizza dough (from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. makes 4 pizzas)
2 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tbsp granulated yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1. mix the yeast, salt, sugar and olive oil with the water in a large bowl. mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon or in a stand mixer with a dough hook.

2. cover the bowl and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses, approximately 2 hours. the dough can be used immediately, though it is easier to use when chilled in the refrigerator (dough can be stored for 2 weeks).

making the pizza
1. on the day you want to make the pizza, two hours before baking, remove your dough from the refrigerator and divide it into equal pieces. flatten into rough discs, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest.

2. twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 550 F, with your baking stone(s) [3] on the bottom shelf. dust a working surface with flour and flatten the dough with a rolling pin or stretch it with your hands. dust a pizza peel with cornmeal and lay the shaped dough down. cover with toppings.

3. slide the pizza from the peel to the baking stone and bake for 8-10 minutes, until crust is golden brown and the cheese has melted completely. let cool a few minutes before slicing and enjoying.