I have a new best friend.
- When using fresh mozzarella (answer: every time), take the time to press the moisture out of the cheese. This solves that age-old issue of the swampy middle and relative absence of crispness. This is something we learned back in the early days of Danny & Jeanelle, during a summer spent cooking pizzas on Danny’s old grill on top of a garage in Humboldt Park, and based on advice from a Mark Bittman recipe that no amount of internet scouring can yield. (If you can find it, happy times!) How to do it: slice the cheese into 1/2 – 1/4 inch rounds, set on a cutting board or flat surface between several layers of paper towels, then put your heaviest stuff on top of that. I tend to use a baking pan (easy to clean, non-porous), topped with a few cookbooks and 3 nesting cast-iron skillets. Overboard? Maybe. But it dries the cheese nicely in the time it takes to preheat the oven and prep the other ingredients.
- Get a pizza stone. And a pizza peel. We got both from the grocery store and have had no problems with either. No fancy kitchen store visit necessary, unless you’re into that sort of thing (which I kind of am, but I am also lazy and cheap). I feel like there are roughly 3 pizza stone producers in the country, so you could probably go in any direction and be fine. Our peel is made from hippie-friendly compressed wood fiber, and has held up like a champion.
- Buy some cornmeal. Medium-grind is fine. This is your passport to a free-sliding pizza, and a slide-y pizza is a safe pizza.
- 7 cups white all-purpose flour or Tipo ’00’ flour, OR 5 cups either of those flours (or a combo) plus 2 cups of semolina flour
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 4 1/2 teaspoons (or two 1/4-ounce packets) active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon raw sugar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water
You can also freeze the dough when it’s done — just put each ball in its own bag and throw in the freezer. I put all my little bags of dough into one big, freezer-safe bag to avoid the risk of funky freezer burn. I’d use up the dough within a month or two of freezing it.