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Charles Van Over Pizza Recipe

From the collection of Recipes from Charles van Over. A true masterpiece. Great for when you don’t have time to order from local pizzerias and want to cook something at home!

Basic Pizza Dough

Enough dough for three 10-inch pizzas or focaccia
Fermentation: 2 1/2 to 3 hours at room temperature, 70°F to 72°F
Retardation: 4 to 36 hours in the refrigerator, 37°F to 45°F

Unbleached, all-purpose flour

500 grams

16 ounces

3 1/3 to 4 cups

100%

Fine sea salt

10 grams

1/3 ounce

2 teaspoons

2%

Instant yeast

3 grams

1/2 teaspoon

1/2 teaspoon

0.5%

Water

3 grams

11 ounces

1 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons

70%

Cornmeal for coating a peel or baking sheet

  1. Place the flour, salt, and yeast in a 14-cup food processor fitted with the metal blade. Using an instant-read thermometer, adjust the water temperature so that the combined temperatures of the flour and water is a base temperature of 130°F if using a Cuisinart or KitchenAid, 145° F for the Cuisinart Power Prep Plus or 150°F if using a Braun*. With the machine running, pour all but 2 tablespoons of the water through the feed tube. Process for 30 seconds. Add the remaining water during the last 15 seconds of processing if the dough seems too dry. Process the dough for a total of 45 seconds.
  2. Stop the machine and take the temperature of the dough with an instant-read thermometer, which should read between 75°F and 80 °F. If the temperature is lower than 75°F, process the dough for five seconds, repeating up to two times until the dough reaches the desired temperature. If the temperature is higher than 80°F, remove the thermometer, scrape the dough from the food processor into an ungreased bowl and refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes. Check the temperature of the dough after 5 minutes; the dough should be 80°F or cooler by that time.
  3. Remove the dough from the processor and place it in a large, ungreased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to ferment for 2 1/2 to 3 hours at room temperature, 70°F to 72 °F. The dough will not double at this point but it will increase in volume somewhat.
  4. Place the bowl of dough into the refrigerator and retard the dough for at least 4 hours up to 36 hours. Proceed with any of the recipes for pizza, focaccia, or schiaciatta.

*Base Temperature: Original Cuisinart and KitchenAid type food processors, 130°F, Cuisinart Power Prep Plus 145ºF, Braun 150°F. For the Viking, try 140ºF to 145ºF

© Charles van Over, 2009

Provençal Pizza

This is one pizza I serve all summer long when the tomatoes are sweet and the basil overtakes our garden.

One 10-inch pizza
Proofing: 1 hour at room temperature, 70°F to 72°F.

1/3 recipe Basic Pizza Dough, about 10 ounces
1/4 cup, Bright Tomato Sauce, recipe follows, about 2 ounces
1 medium fresh tomato, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup, feta, crumbled, about 2 ounces
1/3 cup, about 12 black olives, pitted
6 anchovy fillets
5 sprigs of fresh thyme 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 or 4 large fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

  1. One hour before baking remove the dough from the refrigerator. Put the oven rack on the second shelf from the bottom of the oven and place the baking stone on the rack. Preheat the oven to 500 °F.
  2. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface with the palms of your hands flatten it to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Generously sprinkle a baking sheet with flour, place the dough on the sheet and cover it loosely with plastic wrap. Allow the dough come to room temperature. This will take about 1 hour but do not let dough sit longer than 2 hours before forming and baking.
  3. If kitchen is very cold, place the baking sheet of dough on top of the stove. The warmth of the oven will help the dough warm up and soften. But don’t leave the dough there more than 10 minutes it could over-proof. Turn the dough over once or twice during this time so that the heat permeates it.
  4. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Using your fingertips, press the dough all over so that it begins to stretch out. Gently pull the dough to stretch it into a round disc. The dough will be noticeably soft when pulled. Lift the dough by one edge and place your fists underneath it to begin to stretch the dough into a circle about 11 to 12 inches in diameter.
  5. Sprinkle a peel or the back of a baking sheet with cornmeal, then carefully transfer the stretched pizza dough onto it. Spread the pizza with the tomato sauce leaving a 1/2-inch edge of dough around the perimeter of the pizza plain. Place the tomato slices about 2 inches apart on the top of the crust. Don’t crowd the pizza with tomatoes, they release moisture and can make the pizza soggy. Scatter the feta, olives, and anchovies over the tomatoes. Strip the thyme leaves from their stems and scatter on the pizza or sprinkle the pizza with the dried thyme. Shred the basil leaves and evenly distribute on top of the pizza then drizzle it with olive oil. Season the pizza with a generous grinding of black pepper.

IMPORTANT: We are including here two versions of baking. One for use in a conventional oven and the other for a wood fired oven.

CONVENTIONAL OVEN

  1. Open the oven door and carefully slide the pizza directly onto the baking stone. Hold the peel or baking sheet with two hands, place it deep into the oven directly over the pizza stone where you want the pizza to land. Use a firm back and forth movement to shake and slide the pizza from the peel or baking sheet onto the stone. As the pizza slides forward, gently pull the peel or baking sheet out from under it.
  2. Bake the pizza for 5 minutes. Check it and rotate the pizza so that it bakes evenly. Continue baking for another 5 to 7 minutes until the edges of the pizza crust are just beginning to get dark brown. To remove the pizza from the oven, slide the peel under the pizza and use it to lift the pizza out of the oven. Or, using an oven mitt, slide the baked pizza crust onto the back of the baking sheet. Transfer the pizza to a wire rack to sit for 2 minutes so that some of the steam escapes and the crust doesn’t get soggy before cutting.

WOOD FIRED OVEN

  1. Move the embers and coals of the fire either to the right or the left side of the wood fired oven by using the ash stick. Wait 10 minutes, allowing for the temperature to equalize and then use the tampico floor brush to remove the smaller debris and ashes.
  2. Check the temperature in your oven and when it has reached 650°F, carefully slide the pizza directly onto the floor of the wood fired oven. Hold the long-handled wood peel with two hands, place it in the center of the oven floor, using a firm back and forth movement to shake and slide the pizza from the peel onto the oven floor. As the pizza slides forward, gently pull the peel out from under it.
  3. Bake the pizza for about 1 ½ – 2 minutes. Check it and rotate the pizza so that it bakes evenly by using the metal peel. Continue baking for another 1 ½ to 2 minutes until the edges of the pizza crust are done. To remove the pizza from the oven, slide the metal peel under the pizza and use it to lift the pizza out of the oven. Transfer the pizza to a wire rack to sit for 2 minutes so that some of the steam escapes and the crust doesn’t get soggy before cutting.

© Charles van Over, 2009

Bright Tomato Sauce

Even in the summer, I use canned tomatoes from California to make this pizza sauce. I find the quality of Red Pack Italian-style Plum Tomatoes to be consistently sweet and a good value. This is a simple sauce and therein, like everything Italian, lies its genius.

3 cups 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 28-ounce can Italian-style plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 pinches sugar

  1. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and soften it for 2 or 3 minutes without browning it. Add the canned tomatoes and their liquid, the salt and sugar. Simmer the sauce for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes.
  2. Pour the sauce through a food mill fitted with a medium or coarse plate. Or, press the sauce through a sieve. The sauce is ready to use immediately but should be at room temperature before being spread on pizza dough. (If the sauce seems too watery, return the pan to the heat and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes until the sauce is reduced.)

Covered, this sauce will keep for one week in the refrigerator.

© Charles van Over, 2009

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