Friday, March 28, 2008

Famous Ray's Pizza

My father took up making his own pizza a year or so back, and has gotten pretty good at it. When we showed up last weekend, he had a batch of dough ready to go and proceeded to make a couple of really amazing pies. As you can see, the results were pretty great, and now I present you his recipe.

Famous Ray's Pizza


2 and 1/4 teaspoons of active yeast which is equal to 1/4 ounce packet yeast.I usually use a little more.
1 and 1/2 cup warm water
3 and 3/4 cups all purpose or pizza flour.(1.5 cups all purpose, 1.5 cups 00 farina, and the last 3/4 cups of either one in a separate measuring cup)

1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil pus some for greasing bowl
2 teaspoons salt

Making the Dough

1. Using a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast and water and let stand for 3 or 4 minutes. The water should be warm but not too hot so as not to kill the yeast.

2. Add the 3/4 cup of flour and sugar and mix well.

3. Add the olive oil, salt and the remaining 3 cups of flour gradually, mixing in a mixer, by hand or using a wooden spoon. The dough hook for your mixer works fine.

4. Transfer the sticky dough even if not totally combined, to a flour dusted board and have a small amount of flour readily available to prevent the dough from sticking to the board as you knead. You might use up to another 1/4 cup of flour for this

5. The dough will become smooth after about five minutes of kneading but knead for a minimum of 20 minutes.

6. Place the dough in a large clean bowl, lightly greased with olive oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise for four hours. It should more than double in size

7. Remove from bowl, punch it down and briefly knead again before again placing it in the bowl sealing it with plastic wrap and let it rise again for another hour or two.

8. Again punch it down and form into a ball or log. This quantity of dough makes four pizzas, with the size depending on how thin you roll out the dough. I typically first divide the dough in half and refrigerate one half for future use and then divide the other half to be rolled out for two pizzas. I also have found making the dough the day before and refrigerating overnight seems to improve the texture but you can experiment with that.

The Pizza

Start heating the oven to at least 400 degrees or even 450 degrees. Professional pizza ovens go to 900 degrees

9. Rolling out the dough takes some patience because it behaves like a rubber band shrinking back to its original size. I like to shape it more like a rectangle than a circle because it better matches my pizza stones and paddle. I start by working it with my palm and fingers, again making sure the board is always floured or it will stick. As it begins to stretch out, I then use the rolling pin, working it consistently in all direction. The dough is not delicate so it's easy to turn over to continue rolling. I try to get it the size of the pizza peel or about 12 inches even though the recipe states it is for four 10 inch pizzas.

10 I roll out two pizzas before I begin to assemble them both so I can cook two at the same time. However If you can cook only one at a time in your oven, then don't assemble the second one until you are ready to put it in the oven. As soon as you assemble the sauce begins to soak into the dough and it can get messy if you allow it to sit too long.

11 Once you have the pizza rolled out, you can crimp the edge slightly if you want but there is no need to fuss over it. I then place the rolled out pizza on the pizza peel sprinkled with corn meal or coarse semolina flour to prevent from sticking when you transfer it to the oven. After much experimentation and disaster, I have found it very difficult to get the pizza on the peel after it is assembled.

12. Spread 4 or five table spoons of a basic marinara sauce. I go light on the sauce, just enough to coat the dough and give it taste. Then spread grated mozzarella ( about an inch thick square is enough for two pizzas but I usually go heavier) [ed. note - my father used a mixture of mozzarella, parmiggiano reggiano, and other cheeses, and the sauce was homemade]. Then add whatever other toppings you like. We usually make one all cheese and the other with pepperoni.

13 Now you are ready to transfer the pizza onto the baking stone heated to 450 degrees. Wearing protective gloves is a good idea. Position the paddle so that with a slight jerk forward and back the pizza slides off onto the stone.

14. After about 3 minutes I lower the temperature to 400 degrees. The cooking time is about 10 minutes but I just check the bottom of the pizza. It should be well browned even with some darker spots.

15. Removing the pizza with the pizza peel is fairly easy unless some cheese has boiled over an adhered to the stone. Prying it away with a large spatula or knife is all that is needed.

We had it with an inexpensive Zinfandel that was perfect for "homemade pizza on a Friday afternoon after getting off a plane in Detroit." It's a situation I know most of you face regularly, so I suggest you pick up a case.

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