Ken Forkish’s The Elements of Pizza breaks down every aspect of pizza-making, from dough to cheese to oven settings.
Sometimes a topping combination is so obvious it just begs you to try it on pizza. This pie is topped generously with pistachios and garlic; the mortadella goes mostly underneath the mozzarella so it warms up more than cooks. The edges of the mortadella that are directly exposed to the heat—since it is not completely covered by the cheese—get a nice crisp. The contrast of textures makes for good eating. While mortadella’s hometown is Bologna in Italy, excellent American mortadellas are being made by Framani in Berkeley, California, and Olympia Provisions here in Portland. Go to your favorite deli counter and get a normal, sandwich-slice thickness of mortadella. If you want to try a different cheese than the fior di latte mozzarella, try a soft, unaged Asiago fresco.
This pie is more suitable for Neapolitan-style crust (although you can try New York–style, too) than thin-crust Roman because of the weight of the toppings.
- Measure and Combine the Ingredients. Using your digital scale, measure 116 grams of 90° to 95°F water into a container. For a recipe this small, a large bowl will be fine—you don’t need to pull out the dough tub. Measure 5 grams of fine sea salt, add it to the water, and stir until it’s dissolved. Measure 0.1 gram (1⁄10 of 1⁄4 teaspoon) of instant dried yeast. Add the yeast to the water and stir or swish it around until dissolved. This takes a couple of minutes. Continuous stirring is not required. Add 166 grams of flour (preferably 00) to the water-salt-yeast mixture.
- Mix the Dough. Mix by hand, first by stirring your hand around inside the dough tub to integrate the flour, water, salt, and yeast into a single mass of dough. Then use the pincer method to cut the dough in sections with your hand, alternating with folding the dough to develop it back into a unified mass. Continue for just 30 seconds to 1 minute. The target dough temperature at the end of the mix is 80°F; use your probe thermometer to check it.
- Knead and First Rise. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes, then knead it on a work surface with a moderate dusting of flour for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. The skin of the dough should be very smooth. Place the dough ball seam side down in a lightly oiled container. Cover with a tight-fitting lid or plastic wrap. Hold the dough for 2 hours at room temperature (I’m assuming 70° to 75°F) for the first rise.
- 4 Shape. Shape the dough into a medium-tight round, working gently and being careful not to tear the dough.
- Second Fermentation. Place the dough ball on lightly floured plate, flour the top, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature for 6 hours for the second fermentation. Alternatively, you can rest the dough ball for 4 hours at room temperature, and then refrigerate to hold for up to the next evening.
- Make Pizza. Make pizza anytime in the 4 hours following the second stage of fermentation. If you refrigerated the dough ball, let it come to room temperature for an hour while you preheat the oven and prepare your toppings.
- If you use a dough recipe that calls for refrigeration, remove your dough ball from the refrigerator about 60 to 90 minutes before baking pizza. Put your pizza steel or stone on an upper rack in your oven no more than 8 inches below the broiler. Preheat the oven to 550°F for 45 minutes.
- Crush the pistachios into chunks—not a powder— with a mortar and pestle (or with whatever crushing tool you have handy in your kitchen). In a small bowl, mix the pistachios with the chopped garlic and enough olive oil to coat and mix together by hand. Set aside.
- Set up your pizza assembly station. Give yourself about 2 feet of width on the countertop. Moderately flour the work surface. Position your wooden peel next to the floured area and dust it lightly with flour. Have the olive oil, cheeses, mortadella, pistachio-garlic mixture, and pepper at hand. Switch the oven to broil 10 minutes before loading the pizza.
- To shape the pizza, put the dough ball on the floured work surface and flip to coat both sides moderately with flour. Transfer the disk of pizza dough to the peel. Run your hands around the perimeter to relax it and work out the kinks.
- Drizzle about 1⁄2-tablespoon of olive oil over the disk of dough, then sprinkle on the grated Parmigiano- Reggiano. Cover the grated cheese with the mortadella strips, then with the mozzarella slices, and top it by spreading over the pistachio-garlic mixture with your fingers. Turn off the broiler, then gently slide the pizza onto the pizza stone. Close the oven door and change the oven setting to bake at 550°F. Bake for 5 minutes, until the rim is golden.
- Change the oven setting from bake to broil and let the pizza cook until the cheese is softly melted and the crust is golden with spots of brown and a few small spots of char, about 2 minutes (check it after 1 minute to be safe). Use tongs or a fork to slide the pizza from the pizza steel or stone onto a large plate, then season with pepper. Serve whole or sliced.
Reprinted with permission from The Elements of Pizza, copyright © 2016 by Ken Forkish. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.