All my life, I have loved pizza. Now, everyone says they love pizza, but when I say I love pizza, I mean that I love pizza. It is truly, honest to goodness, my favorite food. And I don’t discriminate when it comes to pizza. I’ll gobble down a greasy late night slice just as soon as I’d make reservations at the newest gourmet pizza restaurant. So when I finally got my own pizza stone for Christmas, I was over the moon. Finally! I can make delicious, non-pita bread pizza (my specialty) whenever I want!
But then came the problem of the dough. Everyone says frozen dough is the quickest, easiest way to whip up a pie, but guess what? My city grocery store (read: not a suburb supermarket wonderland that has 17 types of every product) does not carry frozen pizza dough. Plus, why buy the frozen stuff when homemade dough only calls for about four ingredients?
For the first couple tries, I made a rather sticky dough based off the recipe in the instruction booklet that came with the pizza stone. It tasted ok, but it didn’t crisp up very well, yet still wound up being kind of hard and chewy. The week before I embarked on my clam pizza, I found Mark Bittman’s simple pizza dough recipe that used the food processor. I don’t have a stand mixer (you may have heard something about apartments in NYC being small…), and I love my food processor almost as much as I love pizza, so I knew I needed to make this dough. And the simple toppings of a New Haven-style clam pizza were actually perfect for being able to really taste the dough. It was thin, crispy, and the crusts were beautifully golden on the outside while still light and soft on the inside.
I highly suggest you make it, and I highly suggest you top it with oodles of garlic and olive oily, freshly grated parmesan reggiano, a dusting of oregano, and fresh, salty, oceany, buttery clams. The olive oil soaks into the crust creating a luscious garlicky, cheesy sauce, and the clams, oh the clams. So sweet, so tasty. The perfect complement to the rich oil and cheese. We added capers and crumbled bacon to half of the pie to give it a little extra zing, but honestly, this pizza doesn’t need it.
Local highlight: littleneck clams from Blue Moon Fish
Pizza dough (adapted from Mark Bittman)
- 3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for kneading (next time, I’m buying Cayuga’s organic flour from the farmer’s market. It’s crazy expensive for flour, but I want to try it, despite the fact that my palate probably won’t be able to tell the difference)
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 cup water, divided
- 1/2 to 1 tsp. sugar, depending on your tastes
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
New Haven Style Clam Pizza (adapted from Epicurious)
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 24 littleneck clams, liquor reserved (we used about 20, but I will definitely use more next time)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup or more parmesan reggiano cheese
- Optional: capers, crumbled bacon
- Proof yeast in 1/2 cup warm water mixed with the sugar for about 10 minutes. Water should be about 100°F. When a nice layer of foam appears, you’ll know your yeast is active.
- Place flour, salt, and yeast water into the food processor. I used the dough blade, but I’m sure the regular blade would work fine, too.
- Turn the food processor on low. While running, pour in the remaining 1/2 cup water and the olive oil. Process for about 30 seconds, until the dough forms a nice ball that’s slightly sticky to the touch. If it is still dry, add another tablespoon or two of water and process for another 10 seconds. (In the unlikely event that the mixture is too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time.)
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few seconds to form a nice smooth ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tight lid or plastic wrap, and let rise until it doubles in size. I let mine rise slowly in the refrigerator for about 6 hours, but left on the counter, it will rise in about 1 to 2 hours.
- Place your pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 475°F. Make sure the pizza stone has about 30 minutes in the oven after it’s preheated. This ensures a crispy crust, as the stone cooks the pizza from the bottom.
- Place the garlic and olive oil in a small bowl, cover and chill while the dough rises.
- When the dough is ready, punch it down. Lightly kneed the dough and shape each ball into a 15 inch circle (or you can divide the dough in half and make two smaller pizzas. We made one larger pizza, but moving the crust from the counter to the pizza stone without one of those wooden paddle things was incredibly difficult, so next time, I’ll make two smaller pies).
- Place the dough on the preheated pizza stone. Brush evenly with the garlic oil. Top with the clams, a teaspoon or two of the reserved liquor, the oregano, and cheese.
- Bake on the middle rack for about 15 minutes until the crust is golden. If you want to check the clams, pluck one off the pizza to see if it’s tender. Our clams were perfect and the crust was golden after 15 minutes.