I like pizza. So does Jeff Varasano. Jeff knows a LOT about pizza. If you have the time and curiosity, read his directions. I have every faith that his directions are detailed enough and correct enough that if you follow them, you will get a pizza that is substantially tasty, and probably even authentically New Yorky.
But I balk at establishing my own sourdough starter, buying a fancy mixer, hacking my oven, or even planning my meals more than an hour in advance. So here's what I learned from Jeff, and my did it improve my pizza!
I started with ye olde simple dough recipe:
Mix ingredients, let rise (if you care), spread in pizza pan, add toppings, bake between 350F and 425F.
- 2 cups flour
- 2/3 cups water
- 1 packet dry yeast
I read Jeff's extended treatise, and all I bothered to apply to my first Jeff-inspired pizza is "the oven needs to be hotter!" So I set it to 500F and did everything else the same. Man! An improvement already!
Another part he suggested is letting the dough age in the fridge for several days, or on the counter for several hours. Another great improvement! It is amazing how dough changes as it sits. I accidentally mixed twice as much water as intended, and ended up with this goopy dough which I was ready to throw out. I realized I didn't have any more yeast, so instead I let it sit on the counter all day. By the end of the day, it resembled dough, rather than goop. If you threw a glob of it into a bowl of flour, there was a distinct boundary between flour that was part of the dough and flour that was not. This dough knew what it was!
So my point is, even the most naive and limited application of Jeff's principles will dramatically improve your pie, even if you will never quite reach something even remotely 'pizzeria style.'