Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Baking Partners- NY Style Pizza

Like any of you have read my blog in the last week, you can see that I've started writing a bit more on various subjects. It's been a bit of work and a lot of fun! One of the great things about trying to do this is the people I get to meet over the internet. One group is called Baking Partners. This is a group of enthusiastic folks who share their love of home baking through blogs, Pinterest and Facebook. I asked about joining and received a really nice email from Swathi at Zesty South Indian Kitchen saying I could join. She sent a second email with this month's challenge- New York Style Pizza and three recipes of which I would have to decide which one to make- following the recipe the way it is written except for being able to use toppings of my choosing.
To be totally honest, I was not totally excited. I mean, I grew up making pizza with Grandpa Pitalo. How much different could this be? It wasn't easy picking out a recipe, either. I finally decided to go with the recipe suggested by Priya at Ennveetu Kitchen. Her recipe is actually from and looked fairly easy which is the main reason I chose it. The others didn't look too hard either, but had a few more steps than I wanted to try.

Pizza Dough Raised and Ready to Pan
I had chosen Saturday to make the pizza as a special treat for the family. This being the case, I knew I had to make the dough on Friday as the recipe calls for it to be refrigerated for 24 hours before using. I had all the ingredients for the dough (which was similar to Grandpa's dough except for no sugar being added). It came together easily and was put into the fridge with plenty of time to do its' yeasty magic.

Saturday morning Mary and I headed out to Salem Saturday Market to look for some goodies to top the pizza. One of my favorite booths at the market is always Rain Forest Mushroom Company. They have a great selection of mushrooms, and we decided upon their Maitake Mushroom. When sauteed, it has a bit of a meaty and I think, smoky, flavor which works well for pizza. There were a lot of other booths although the produce choices were limited due to the earliness of the season. I did pick up some nice looking lettuce, and Mary found some first of the season rhubarb that we picked up for some kind of pre-Mother's Day dessert she would concoct. She has been wanting to try a strawberry rhubarb crumble for a while now, and that is what she chose to make. As you can see from the photo, it was just beautiful! I'll see about getting her to share the recipe in a future post or maybe on her blog!
Mary's Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble
Sauce Ingredients and Tools
We can home and did a few other things before I finally decided it was time to tackle the pizza recipe. Part of my trepidation was that it had gotten up to almost 90 degrees on Saturday, and I knew I was going to have to heat the oven REALLY high! Throwing caution to the wind, and turning on the ceiling fan, started pre-heating the oven with the pizza stone in it and got the sauce made. I wasn't sure how good the sauce would be as it only has three ingredients, but it's actually a perfect blend of tomatoes and spices/herbs that doesn't overpower the rest of the pizza!
 Simmering Sauce
While the sauce was simmering, I cooked up the sausage, sliced the olives, sauteed the mushrooms with some green onions and grated the Mozzarella and Romano cheeses.
Pizza Toppings Ready to Top!

After the oven and stone were adequately pre-heated, I got the pizza ready. Not owning a pizza peel, I had to use the backside of a metal pizza pan sprinkled with semolina flour. It took a little help from Brian~ who also got roped into helping take the photos~ to get it onto the stone as the stone ended up being a little smaller than how big I had made the pizza.
Ready to go onto the Stone.
The recipe didn't say just how long to cook it, so we went with 10 minutes before checking underneath. It was a bit charred which is how the recipe said it should look.
Crust done right!
Pizza coming out of the oven!
I let the pizza sit for another 10 minutes while I made up a salad of the butter lettuce bought at Saturday Market and some berry vinaigarette to serve with it. After gathering the family together and saying Grace, we proceeded with eating and critiquing. Here are some of my family's comments:
Brian- "On a scale of 1 to 5, a 5 definitely. Everything about it is great. The crust is perfect and the toppings go great with the sauce."
David- "Ummm, ummm. It's great! I really like the crust."
Mary- "Everything goes together really well. The sauteed mushrooms are so good with the sausage, and I really like the crust."
Me- "YES!!! This is the best pizza I've ever made. I love it!"

Okay, so even someone who has been making pizza for most of her life can learn something new. I don't think I've ever had the whole family say how much they like pizza crust that I have made. Needless to say, this is the pizza crust and sauce recipe I will keep on the top of my recipe list. I know a big part of it was the preheated oven and stone. Here's the recipe for you to make your own NY Style Pizza-
Buono Appetito!


NY Style Pizza and Fresh Salem Salad

Dough Recipe

3½ cups (16 ounces) high-gluten flour
9 ounces warm water
1 tablespoon classico olive oil
1 teaspoon instant yeast
¾ teaspoon salt

In a stand mixer (e.g., KitchenAid) fitted with the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until ingredients come together and form a scrappy dough. Add olive oil and mix for a few seconds longer until it's incorporated into the dough. Switch to the dough hook attachment and set mixer to medium speed. Allow mixer to knead the dough for a full 15 minutes at which time it should pass a windowpane test. Place dough in a large oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place dough in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Pizza Sauce

28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes (Redpack brand preferred)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano flakes

Puree the tomatoes, garlic, and oregano in a blender. Pour into a saucepan and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes (do not boil).
When ready to make pizza, remove dough from refrigerator and allow to warm to room temperature. Preheat your oven (with pizza stone) to 550°F one hour prior to making pizza.
Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface. Press the dough into a flat, round disc. Use your fingers or the palm of your hand to press the dough out thin, leaving an outside raised edge. Place the dough over your fists and begin stretching it into a large circle. Place the dough on a pizza peel which was been dusted with flour, cornmeal, or semolina flour. Add your sauce, toppings, and cheese (perform this step rather quickly so that the dough will not have time to stick to the peel). Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake until the crust is dark brown and somewhat charred. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving pan and slice.
TIP: A pizza peel is a bit tricky to use at first, but you'll soon get the hang of it! First, it is important to have a good dusting of cornmeal on the peel which keeps the dough from sticking and greatly helps the pizza in sliding off. Before you attempt to transfer the pizza into the oven, hold the peel level and in front of you. Quickly jerk the peel back and forth a few times to loosen the pizza; you'll see the pizza start to slide around a bit. Once it is loose and you are confident that it is not sticking to the peel, place the peel at the very back of the oven, hold the handle at an upward angle, and make a series of short, quick backwards jerks letting the pizza slide off and onto the pizza stone. Some people forget to loosen the pizza and, even worse, try to make one huge backwards jerk to get the pizza off. This usually results in a huge mess!!
Click here to see step-by-step instructions to making a New York-style pizza.

Please take a look at what other baking partners are cooked up. If you are interested to join the group, you can e-mail Swathi at favoriterecieps12 (at) gmail (dot)com.
Here are what some of the other bakers made:


  1. Nice job on this month's challenge! Your pizza looks perfectly baked!

    1. Thanks Tina-
      It's really fun being part of this group & your website is really great!

  2. Nanci, you did very well, Glad you join us this month.

    1. Thanks! It was so much fun. Can't wait to see what June's recipe is!

  3. Congrats on making a pizza the whole family loves! They are always the best critics!

    1. Thank you Shannon. I was pretty surprised but really pleased!

  4. Lovely :) So good clicks :) Hope u enjoyed!!!Visit my space once u r free.

    1. Thanks Achu-
      I'll definitely check out your blog!

  5. Lovely to hear your family's comments, am sure you all had a great time

    1. Thank you Amrita-
      I so enjoy making things for my family as we are all "foodies" and they can be helpful critics too!