This week I am in San Francisco with the kids on Spring Break (along with everyone else in the country, apparently).
What all these people are doing in my city?
I was born here, went to culinary school here (at CCA, which has moved! BOOO!), met and married my husband here. But I was transplanted to LA about 15 years ago, and so now the city always seems a little weird to me. I am sad to see many favorite places have disappeared, replaced by so many chain shops and restaurants. Happily, the important things are here, including North Beach Pizza. This is by far the best pizza outside New York. You can argue that point until you are blue in the face. I will forever disagree.
The best pizza is made in the hottest ovens, preferably on a stone or tile surface. You can buy a fancy oven stone, or go to the hardware store and buy a couple terracotta tiles. Or you can just use a cookie sheet. It’s not quite as good, but hey, I’m not running a pizza joint in my kitchen … just trying to feed the fam.
Everyone has a pizza preference. You can use this dough make one big pizza, or divide it into individual portions and let your crew create their own masterpieces. Or to make an Italian calzone or stuffed pizza, fill the dough like a turnover, fold it in half, seal the edges with a little water. Crimp it tight, and bake it a little longer than a pizza, about 30 minutes, until golden brown.
1 cup water
1 (.25 oz.) package active dry yeast
1 TB. honey
1 cup bread flour
1/2 cup olive oil
1 TB. kosher salt
2-3 cups bread flour
- In a large bowl combine water, yeast, and honey. Stir in 1/2 cup of flour to reach a pancake-batter consistency. Cover and set in a warm spot until it begins to bubble up, about from 1-8 hours (longer is better, if time allows). This is called a sponge.
- Add to the sponge the olive oil and salt, and slowly add enough bread flour to create a firm dough. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead, adding flour only as necessary, until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Return to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 450˚F. Coat a baking sheet or pizza pan with pan spray and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal (or if you are using a tile, sprinkle cornmeal on a wooden paddle or peele). Roll the dough out to desired size, resting 3-5 minutes if it becomes elastic and starts springing back. Using a little olive oil, press the dough into its final shape with your fingertips. Top as desired, then bake until toppings are bubbly and edges of the dough are browned, about 15-20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.
BTW: This dough can be made ahead and frozen in single serving zipper bags. Defrost at room temperature.