This pizza crust is crunchy with just a little chew and wonderfully versatile! It is a family affair when we make extra crusts and freeze them for easy weeknight meals. Kids love the dough toss step and this has even been a popular birthday party activity! From a simple margherita topping (pictured above) of fresh sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic olive oil and cheese, to a hearty combination of pepperoni and sausage, this crust holds its own with a variety of toppings. I am convinced the secret is in the combination of all purpose flour and cake flour, a tip I learned from an authentic Italian cookbook my sister in-law gave me. I have re-worked the method used in that book in order to simplify the process while still preserving the elements that make it special. Some form of these pizzas are on our menu about once a month. I hope your family enjoys them as much as we do!
Ingredients for Neoplolitan Pizza Crust
- 2 packages (1/4 oz.), or 4 1/2 teaspoons, active dry yeast
- 3 C. all purpose flour
- 3 C. cake flour
- 2 t. salt
- 2 C. filtered water
- Extra virgin olive oil
- About 1 C. cornmeal
Makes 4 12-inch crusts.
Prebake crusts for 5 minutes at 475°, cool and store in the freezer, divided by parchment paper, in a freezer bag. When ready to use, lightly dampen the back of the crust with water, top as desired and bake at 375° for 10 – 15 minutes.
In your stand mixer bowl (or a large mixing bowl if you are going to hand knead), combine 1 C. of the all purpose flour, 1 C. of the cake flour and all of the salt and yeast. In another mixing bowl, stir together the other 4 cups of flour. Heat the water on the stove or in the microwave to about 115° to 120°.
Add the water to the flour and yeast mixture and mix on medium high speed with whisk attachment for about one minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. (Or hand whisk for about the same time, or until mixture is well combined and smooth.)
With a wooden spoon, gradually stir in has much of the additional flour as you can by hand then transfer to stand mixer or floured surface to knead. Using the dough hook attachment or your hands, knead for approximately 10 minutes, adding as much of the additional flour mixture as you can.
Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a dish towel and let rise until double in size. (About 2.5 to 3 hours.) Punch down the dough, separate into four equal balls (I use the food scale to measure these equally) and cover with plastic wrap to rest for 10 minutes.
To form the crusts, gently press the round as evenly as you can until it is about 1/2-inch thick, then pick it up and hold by the edge, rotating slowly, letting gravity stretch it out. If you want to really have fun, drape the dough over your fists and toss it in the air, using a spinning motion to set it rotating in the air.
Don’t worry if you get a little tear, you want the crust to be very thin, so it is probably going to happen sometimes. Just borrow some dough from a thicker spot and make a patch. It all tastes the same and no one will know with all your delicious toppings covering it!
When your dough round is about 12 inches in diameter and nice and thin (some spots may even be nearly see-through) transfer to a pizza peel generously treated with cornmeal and add desired toppings and brush edges with olive oil. (We find that about 5 T of pizza sauce and about 1.5 C cheese are the right proportions for us. Pictured at the top is simply tomato slices, fresh basil, mozzarella and parmesan, salted and lightly drizzled with garlic infused olive oil.)
Preheat oven to 400° (with pizza stone if you have one). Transfer pizza from peel directly onto the pizza stone and cook for 10 – 15 minutes until crust is golden and cheese is melty. If you do not have a pizza stone, bake on lightly oiled metal pizza pan. Enjoy!