I love pepperoni pizza. I pretty much consider it a food group. I could eat if for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I've been psyching myself up to try this two stone method of baking pizza ever since I bought the Pizza Bible by Tony Gemignani, a book with recipes and stories about pizza from around the world. The book is really a course in how to make brick oven pizza in your home oven. There are so many tips and tricks in this book. As an eleven time winner world pizza champion, Tony takes his pizza pretty seriously.
The dough for this pizza is fermented in the refrigerator, and can be made up to two days in advance. It's really easy to shape, and way easier than most thin crust pizza dough I've tried. In fact, the method ensures that you will have a nicely shaped outer edge and a crispy crust. I love this dough. It is so easy to work with and will be my new "go-to" pizza dough.
As I mentioned, the basic concept of the two stone method is to duplicate a classic pizza oven. You have one pizza stone or baking steel on the lowest oven rack, and another on a rack in the upper third of the oven. I used a regular baking stone on the bottom rack, and an Emile Henry barbecue baking stone on the upper rack.
Yes, I know, what am I doing with two baking stones? I actually bought the Emile Henry for making pizza on the barbecue last summer. P.S. I works great!! I'm still coveting a Baking Steel. Someday....
I have made this pizza four times, with different results each time. Remember, every oven is different. As I learned, you need to park yourself in front of it with the light on and watch the show.
The first time, I did not use the convection setting in my oven, and ended up with a perfect bottom crust, but the outer crust was very pale. It tasted fantastic, so don't worry if you don't have convection. If you want browned edges, just move the pizza back to the top and broil for a minute or two... or hit the crust with a kitchen torch!
The second time, I turned on the convection fan while baking this pizza, and ended up with a crust that was too dark for some of the members of my family (i.e. burned). I should have paid more attention while the pizza was baking.....
The third time I baked this pizza, I used the convection setting, but cut the baking time down. This resulted in a perfectly browned pizza, but I felt that the center crust was not as crisp as I would have liked.
Finally, on the fourth try, I baked the pizza with the convection setting turned off for the first six minutes, and finished the pizza with it turned on. In this case, I baked it for the full eleven minutes. Perfection.
Rest assured, ALL of the experimental pizzas were enjoyed. I don't mind charred crust, so I pretty much ate that one. For the under done pizza, I placed it back on the hot stone with the oven off but still hot, and let it crisp up for an extra 15 minutes. Deliciousness.
Regarding the book, about the first 30 pages of the book are dedicated to the process, and the steps are pretty exacting. This is my very condensed version of the instructions. FYI, there are some errors in the book, so if you get the book (which I recommend), download the errata page.
Because I kind of get distracted and follow shiny things, I first made this Detroit Style Pizza from the book. The resulting Detroit style pizza pan purchase that "happened" is the reason I have to wait to get my baking steel....
I used parchment paper during the first half of the bake and have not noticed any sacrifice in the crispiness of the crust. Purists will get the vapors, but it makes it so much easier to transfer the pizza to the stone without turning your pizza into an amoeba shaped mutant. At least for me.
How to Make Basic Pepperoni Pizza with Overnight Dough Using the Two Stone Method
Pizza Dough (makes two pizza crusts)
4.5 grams (1 1/2 tsp) instant or active dry yeast
70 grams (1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp) warm water
453 grams (3 1/2 cups) high protein flour. I used 423 grams of bread flour plus 30 grams of vital wheat gluten.
9 grams (1 tablespoon) diastatic malt or 1 tablespoon barley malt syrup
225 grams (3/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons) ice water
9 grams (2 tsp) salt
5 grams (1 tsp) extra virgin olive oil.
- Whisk the yeast into the warm water in a small bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour and malt powder (if you are using the syrup, add it to the ice water)
- While the mixer is running on low, slowly add the ice water, and then the water yeast mixture. Continue to mix on low for one minute. Add the salt and mix for one minute more.
- Add the oil and mix for 1 to 2 minutes more.
- Increase the speed to the second speed and mix the dough for another 2 minutes. Scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface, and knead by hand for about 30 to 60 seconds.
- Cover the dough with a damp cloth, and let rest for 1 hour.
- Divide the dough in half and form each piece into a tight ball. Place each ball onto an oiled plate and tightly wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.
Pepperoni Pizza (one pizza)
1 ball of pizza dough
1/2 cup of your favorite pizza sauce
6 ounces (170 grams) whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
3 ounces of thinly sliced pepperoni
A sprinkling of seasoning and herbs. I use King Arthur Flour's Pizza Seasoning. It contains dried onion, garlic, and italian seasoning. Optional.
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper to taste
- Place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of your oven, and another one in the top third of your oven (about the third rung down). Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. If you have convection, see the explanation above.
- Lightly flour your work surface and gently flip the pizza dough disk over onto the counter. Lightly dust it with flour, and flip it over with your bench knife.
- Using your fingers, press to create a rim of about 3/4 inches around the edges of the circle to create an outer crust.
- With your fingertips, gently press against the edges of the rim to begin to push the dough out. Pick the dough up and transfer it from hand to hand, turning it and allowing it to stretch out. Finally, pick up the dough and stretch it by draping it over your knuckles and turning it.
- Place the dough onto a piece of parchment paper, which has been placed on top of a pizza peel, and stretch it out to about 12 to 13 inches in diameter.
- Ladle the sauce over the pizza and spread it evenly over the dough. Sprinkle with the cheese and add the pepperoni. Sprinkle with the pizza seasoning.
- Transfer the pizza with the parchment to the upper stone, and bake for six minutes.
- Slice the peel under the pizza and move it to the bottom stone. Remove the parchment. Bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and place on a cutting board. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and crushed red pepper. Serve hot!!