The Ultimate Guide to Pizza

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.

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I’ve lived in southwest Missouri for most of my life, but I spent my first eight years (and many, many summers) on the East Coast. This fact is really only relevant when it comes to two things: cheesesteak sandwiches and pizza. To me, there’s only one right way to order a cheesesteak, and foldable, giant slices of New York-style pizza are the absolute best. Since this story is about all things pizza, we decided that I should get a little first-hand experience with throwing dough. Jason Bappe, who recently opened Jax and Gabe’s Pizzeria and has been making New York–style pies for 20 years, kindly allowed us in his restaurant’s kitchen to give it a shot. Read the tips I learned during my dough-tossing training, and give Bappe’s recipe a shot. You’ll be enjoying a big ol’ slice of New York–style pie in no time.

  1. Use high-gluten flour. To create a New York–style pizza, you need a very elastic dough. High-gluten flour provides the elasticity needed to stretch and throw the dough. If you use regular flour, it will rip or tear much easier.
     
  2. Be generous with the flour. Sprinkle plenty of flour on your work surface, and coat your hands with flour as well. Flip the dough in flour to cover both sides, and even roll the perimeter of the dough ball in flour. This will help prevent the dough from sticking to your hands and make it less likely to rip or tear.
     
  3. Think soft. When you begin to throw the dough, softly catch it on the edge of your fingertips, and move your hands apart to stretch it larger. (Note: The word softly is very important here—I threw my hand in the air too quickly, and my fat little Polish sausage finger broke a hole in the dough.)
     
  4. Be confident. One of my biggest mistakes when throwing the dough was not believing in myself. Don’t be afraid to toss the dough in the air—the worst thing that can happen is it can land on the floor, and then you can just start over. You can do this! 
     
  5. Bake it good. While you can use any pizza pan to bake your pie, Bappe suggests baking it on a pizza stone. When using an at-home oven, this is the best way to get a crispier crust.

New York-Style Pizza Dough
Makes one pizza crust

Ingredients:
1 cup warm water (90 to 100°F)
1 packet dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups high-gluten flour (more if dough becomes sticky)
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for coating

To prepare:
1. Mix water, yeast and sugar until yeast is dissolved.
2. Pour mixture into a stand mixer bowl. 
3. Add flour, salt and oil.
4. Attach dough hook to your mixer, and mix on low speed until the dough starts to form and climb the dough hook.
5. Remove dough from bowl, and form into a ball shape.
6. Coat a bowl with olive oil, and place dough ball in the coated bowl. Cover with a towel, and let rise for 45 minutes or until the ball almost doubles in size. 
7. When ready to prepare your pizza, roll, toss and stretch your dough to the desired size. (Use flour as needed to keep dough from sticking to your hands.)
8. Place pizza stone in the oven, and preheat oven to 500°F. 
9. Once stone is warm, place topped pizza on stone and bake pizza until crust is golden brown, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
10. Remove from oven, and enjoy. 

How to Throw Dough

Want to create your own New York­-style pizza at home? Check out these step-by-step tips for throwing dough, and you’ll be enjoying a slice of pie in no time.

1.  When you’re ready to prepare your pizza, cover the dough ball in more of the high-gluten flour. You’ll want it everywhere—I flipped the dough to cover both sides a few times, and I even rolled the perimeter of the dough in the flour to cover the sides.

2.  Sprinkle your working surface with more of the high-gluten flour, and place your dough ball on the surface. Using your hands, form a short crust around the perimeter of the ball, and work the air bubbles out of the center. As you are working out the air bubbles, you will also begin to slightly stretch the dough.

3.  Once your air bubbles are gone and your crust is formed, carefully pick up the dough ball. Make a fist with one hand and place the dough over it, then make another fist and place your hands together under the dough. Slowly separate your hands to stretch the dough, turning the dough disc as you work. Repeat until the dough is TK inches in diameter.

4.  Take your dominate hand, turn it upside down (so your palm is facing the dough) and rest the dough on your fingertips. Do the same with your opposite hand, and lightly toss the dough in the air with your dominate hand. 

5.  Softly catch the dough on the edge of your fingers, and move your hands apart to stretch it larger. (Note: The word softly is very important here—I threw my hand in the air too quickly, and my fat little Polish sausage finger broke a hole in the dough.) Moving quickly, continue this step until the dough is as large as you wish.

6.  If you want to get fancy, make a fist, place the dough on top and move your arm clockwise, spinning the dough on one hand.

7.  Once your pizza is to your desired size, top, bake and enjoy.

 

New York—Style Pizza Dough Recipe (Without a mixer):
Makes one pizza crust

Ingredients:
2 cups high-gluten flour (more if dough becomes sticky)
1 packet dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for coating
1 cup warm water (90 to 100°F)

To prepare:
1.  Combine flour, yeast, sugar, oil and salt in a large mixing bowl.
2.  Mix thoroughly, then add water.
3.  Mix with wooden spoon or by hand for three to four minutes or until a rough ball is formed.
4.  Let the dough rest for a few minutes, and prepare a smooth floured surface.
5.  Knead the dough by rolling and folding it on your floured surface. You may need to add a little more water or flour to make a firm, smooth dough ball.
6.  Coat a bowl with olive oil, and place dough ball in the coated bowl. Cover with a towel, and let rise for 45 minutes or until the ball almost doubles in size.
7.  When ready to prepare your pizza, roll, toss and stretch your dough to the desired size. (Use flour as needed to keep dough from sticking to your hands.)
8.  Place pizza stone in the oven, and preheat oven to 500°F.
9.  Once stone is warm, place topped pizza on stone and bake pizza until crust is golden brown, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
10. Remove from oven and enjoy.

 

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