Perfect Pizza Margherita

by Laura on February 24, 2014

in Pizza


Letting the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight results in a chewy crust with a slight tang. Letting it sit for up to three days adds even more texture and complexity.


  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (90 to 105 degrees)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • extra-virgin olive oil



  • one, 14-ounce can peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano, rumbled
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 lbs buffalo mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 32 large basil leaves, torn into pieces

 Make the dough: In a large bowl, mix the yeast with 1/2 cup of the warm water and the sugar and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1-1/2 cups of warm water, the 4 cups of flour and the kosher salt and stir until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface a nd knead, adding dlour as necessary. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and brush all over with olive oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight for up to 3 days.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, then punch down and divide into 4 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Rub each ball with oil and transfer to a baking sheet. Cover the balls loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place for 1 hour.

Prepare the toppings: Meanwhile, set a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F, allowing at least 45 minutes for the stone to heat. Pass the tomatoes through a food mill set over a medium bowl or pulse them in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Stir in the oregano and 1 tbsp of the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.

On a lightly floured surface, stretch one ball of dough into a 13-inch round; transfer to a floured pizza peel, adding flour where the dough sticks. Spread 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce over the dough to within 1 inch of the edge. Spread  one-fourth of the cheese over the pizza and drizzle with 1 tbsp of oil. Season with sea salt and pepper and slide the pizza onto the stone. Bake until the bottom is charred and the cheese is melted, about 8 minutes. Scatter one-fourth of the basil on top and let stand for 3 minutes before serving. Repeat with the remaining doughs and toppings.

Source: Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2008.

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