NYC Style Pizza Dough

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New York City pizza is renowned for its ultra-thin crust and tangy sauce. Two things I love, so I was excited to create this pizza from scratch! This is a first-timer friendly recipe--my first time making a pizza, in fact! It's a great dough to make ahead for company. From this recipe we made four personal-sized pizzas that we shared between four adults. If you're more experienced at stretching dough (and give it some time to reach room temp), you can likely achieve larger, thinner crusted pizzas. 

Jump to Ingredients List

Time Breakdown

Dough: 20 min active + 24-72 hrs. resting in fridge

Sauce: 15 min active + 2 hr. simmer (can do just before assemble the pizzas or a day or so before)

Topping preparation: 20 min.

Assembly and cooking: close to an hour for 4 pizzas, cooking one at a time. Bake at 550°F for 4-6 min

The Dough
You'll need to make the dough at least a day ahead of time. Why? Because the secret to amazing flavor and a puffy crust is the slow, 2-3 day refrigerator rise. I let it go for 2 days, and it was amazing. At three days, it's supposed to be even better. I’ve read that weighing ingredients (rather than measuring) will get the most consistent results, so I decided to try it. I started by weighing out 17.5 oz of filtered water and pouring it into the mixing bowl. Ideally the water should be at room temperature, so the yeast doesn’t get shocked, and you get a good rise. 

I weighed out 28 oz. of King Arthur All Purpose flour into another bowl with 1 1/2 tsp. salt and one teaspoon of Instant Dry yeast. I then mixed the dry ingredients together very gently with a whisk.

Pro Tip: Make sure you use Instant Dry (NOT Active Dry) Yeast. Active Dry needs to be dissolved in water, which this recipe does not call for. Instant Dry can be mixed right into the dough. 

Now, it is time to put your dough hook onto your mixer. Add in the flour mixture to the water already in the mixer bowl, along with 3 tsp. olive oil. You can mix and knead by hand, of course, if you'd prefer. If you use the mixer, keep it running on its lowest speed for 4-10 minutes. You can run it for less time if you plan to let the dough rise in the refrigerator for longer. I ran mine for about five minutes, stopping both the mixer and the timer every so often to pull the dough off the hook. (If the hook isn't actively pummeling the dough-- just spinning around with the dough stuck to it, then the dough needs to be pulled off so the pummeling can resume.) After this time, you should have a nice ball but the dough will likely be sticky. Pull the dough out of the mixing bowl and place it on a floured surface.

Cut the dough into four equal parts. (Our Pizza Blade actually works perfectly for this.) Place each one in a freezer bag (large ziplock bag) or a plastic container with a drizzle of olive oil inside so the dough doesn’t stick.  I rolled the dough into a ball through the plastic. Let them refrigerate for at least 24 and up to 72 hours.

The Sauce
The tomato sauce is quick to start, but you need to keep an eye on it for  2 hours while it reduces. 

Open the can and put the tomatoes into a pot or sturdy bowl large enough to keep the mess contained. Using an immersible blender, blend these canned lumps until they become soupy, like gazpacho. (You can also use a stand-up blender or food mill instead.)

Next you’ll want to mince up your garlic and basil leaves. This is easy work with The Robin & Field Pizza Blade. A few back and forth motions and your herbs are minced. In a clean sauce pot I then added the olive oil. Recipes often advise heating the oil first. Personally, I find that I tend to burn things when I do it this way. Instead, I add the olive oil, then the garlic, herbs and seasonings. And then I turn the heat to med-low. Sauté until the garlic just starts to brown. Then add in the tomatoes and the two large chunks of onion.

You will then need to keep an eye on the sauce for the next two hours while it cooks on med-low heat. Let it reduce by at least half. Most of the moisture should be gone. Stir the sauce occasionally to help the water cook off, and also to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom. The onion is added for flavor, but it breaks down nicely as the sauce cooks. You can pick out the onion and discard it, or leave it in for some texture to the sauce. I left it in. 

Cooking the Pizza

Since a NYC pizza crust likes a hot oven (550°F), I decided to use the gas barbecue. Be prepared with a second tank on hand, if you go this route, since the grill will need to stay good and hot for some time. I highly recommend a pizza stone, as well, to get a beautiful crunchy crust.

Forming the Crust

Pro Tip: let the dough warm up to room temperature first. (I didn't do this...)

If you're using a stone, you'll make the pizzas right on the peel. Otherwise, prepare the dough on the surface you intend to use for baking. Spread a thick mound of corn meal over the center of the surface and throw down one of your refrigerated dough balls. Punch it from a ball out into a circle. We were outside with temps in the 60s, so I struggled with the dough a bit. It wouldn’t stretch much, and we ended up with 10 inch pies. It should be possible to press out 16 inch crusts under the right conditions. (If using a stone/pizza peel) Make sure you've added enough cornmeal that you can move the dough around on the peel. If not, add more corn meal under the dough. Once the dough slides freely around, you're ready to add your sauce, cheese, and any other toppings. (Notice the metal spatula in the second picture below--that's for lifting up the dough to add more cornmeal, if necessary.) Note also that the cornmeal tastes great embedded in the dough--all the more reason not to be shy with it!

Toppings

New Yorkers tend to go for the ever-popular extra cheese, pepperoni, sausage, meatball, mushroom, or olive variety. Since we're mainly vegetarian, we mixed things up a little and went with fava bean leaves (in place of spinach), Kalamata olives, mushrooms, and broccoli.
 

Cooking in the barbecue proved to be a great move. At 550 degrees, these thicker-than-intended crust pizzas cooked in six minutes flat. The dough didn’t disappoint. The crust may not have been NYC-pizza-thin, but it was airy and delicious!


Dough Ingredients:

-28 oz. All Purpose or Bread Flour

-17.4 oz water

-1 tsp. Instant Dry Yeast (Not Active Dry!)

-2 1/2 tsp. salt

-3 tsp. olive oil

+plenty of cornmeal for the peel!

Sauce Ingredients:

-1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes

-2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

-2 garlic cloves

-1 tsp. dried oregano

-pinch red pepper flakes

-pinch of Kosher salt

-2 (6-inch) sprigs of fresh basil leaves

-1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
 

Toppings I Used:

-thinly sliced mushrooms

-sliced black and Kalamata olives

-whole fava bean leaves (in place of spinach)

-sliced broccoli

-thinly sliced tomatoes, cooked

Popular NYC Toppings to Try:

-pepperoni

-sausage

-meatballs

-onion

-bacon

Special Equipment:

-plastic ziplocs or containers for refrigerator rise

-kitchen scale

-mixer and dough hook (or plan to mix and knead by hand)

-immersible blender (or stand-up blender, food mill, etc.)

-stone and pizza peel (or whatever you plan to cook it on)

-pizza cutter