Of all the categories of cooking that I someday hope to master, the one that has long lingered in the back of my mind, never quite taking center stage, is pizza. I've eaten it in Naples, all over Italy in fact. In New York I worked at a place that served what was arguably the best pizza in town, and I helped my good friend get his brick oven pizza business off the ground. But I've never really made it at home; without a brick oven, I thought, what's the point of even trying?
With my sourdough starter flourishing over the last month, though, I thought it was time to really give it a go. I used some yeast to augment my sourdough, and over the course of about 16 hours made a respectable dough: sponge in the fridge overnight, soft dough in the morning, slow rise, punch down, second rise, portion, final rise. Of course I failed to take any notes - a necessity for the serious pizzaiolo I'm told - but those days in the pizzeria trenches ended up serving me well. I could, with a fairly high degree of confidence, recognize when the dough looked and felt right, and could stretch it out efficiently.
Besides a good dough, the one missing piece of the puzzle - short of a backyard oven (someday!) - was a stone. So I bit the bullet and bought one, figuring now was the time to try to do it right. After a 45 minute pre-heat in a 475 degree oven (smoke alarm be damned), I used an inverted floured sheet tray as a makeshift peel and slid the lightly dressed dough onto the floured peel. Eight minutes later - not quite the 45 seconds of Da Michele, but respectable - out came a bubbly, crisped but chewy circle of happiness.
There is definite room for improvement (maybe play with the broiler to try to get some blistering), but for a first serious attempt, it was pretty darn delicious.