I love making this one! Inspired by my mother, Raphaella, it’s a mixture of fresh spinach (not cooked first) ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, mozzarella, garlic powder, and extra virgin olive oil. Yes, garlic “powder” not fresh garlic. I believe there is a time and place for both fresh herbs and spices and dehydrated ones. Garlic powder goes great with this dish.
For the dough . . .
This dough recipe is good for two 12” thin-crust pies. See ingredient breakdown below.
Just a few things about pizza dough. . .
A lot of people get frustrated with it. They can’t get it to cooperate. Or, once baked it comes too thick or doesn’t rise and tastes like a cracker. Or, it doesn’t hold up to the topping. The alternative, go to your local pizzeria or supermarket and buy some already made dough.
I love the refrigerated supermarket dough. My mother uses it and her crust comes so nice and crispy and chewy every time. The reason why that premade supermarket dough is so good is that it’s been sitting around for a little while. The flour, water, and yeast are really getting to know each other in the fridge. And, when you bring it back up to room temp and let it rise a bit, it’s a joy to work with. Well . . . you have to do the same with your dough you make at home.
Regarding measuring dough, the way it really should be done is by weighing it. But, you can make excellent pizza dough by measuring it out in cups just to get started, and then make adjustments with flour and water once it feels right in your hands. Many factors in the environment affect the dough. One day may be different from the next so I like this “feels right” approach.
In a mixing bowl pour in the room temperature to lukewarm water. Add the cane sugar and stir it in until dissolved.
Now add the yeast. I like to gently whisk it in. Wait for the yeast to start reacting a little with the water. You will start to smell a sweet alcohol type smell or see the yeast start to multiply.
At this point start stirring in your flower. Just stir it around in the bowl until it starts getting pasty and forming into a solid mixture. At this point add the salt. Do not add the salt in the very beginning as it can have a negative effect on letting the yeast and sugar do their work.
Once all the ingredients are added just keep working the dough and adding flour until it is a very moist but pliable dough ball. In my opinion, the wetter and stickier it is the more light and crispy the crust will be. Once your dough is formed pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into the bottom of a glass mixing bowl. Roll the dough ball in it, covering all of it. Place a piece of saran wrap on top and let sit in the fridge overnight.
The next day before making your pizza, take the bowl with the dough in it out of the fridge and place it in a warm area. Let it come to room temperature and double in size. Flour a working surface and dump the dough out onto the floured surface. If it’s very sticky and wet that’s fine. Split the dough into two even pieces, coat with flour and gently work with your hands until dough becomes a bit dryer and less sticky. Roll into two dough balls. Lightly coat with flour and place under a cloth for about 30 minutes to rest and rise some more.
At this point, place the flat cast iron pizza pan on your stovetop and set the flame on high heat.
With a rolling pin, roll the two pieces of dough out into 10”-12” discs. Press along the edges of the discs about ½ inch from the edge to create a crust.
Once the cast iron is hot enough, we are going to transfer the dough disc from the working surface onto the stove. If you have a pizza peel, just flour it, slide it underneath the disc, and slide the dough onto the cast iron. If you do not have a pizza peel, gently fold the disc in half, lift it up by the corners, place the circular end to the side of the cast iron closest to you and then unfold the top half onto the remaining part of the pan.
Before doing this make sure the cast iron is nice and hot. Put the palm of your hand a few inches from the pan. You should not be able to leave it there for more than a few seconds without it feeling a bit uncomfortable. Or, splash some water on the pan. It should sizzle and evaporate in seconds.
Once the dough is on the cast iron for about a minute you will start to see the top form little bubbles. We want to char the bottom a bit but not too much. When you start to get a hint of that “NYC grocery cart burnt pretzel smell” check the bottom. It should be charred here and there. That’s all you want. At this point, slide a large spatula underneath the disc a little off-center and flip it onto the other side. We only want to keep it on this side for about 30 seconds. This side will remain the “top” where we will put our toppings. The top should look like a giant flour tortilla. No charing.
Take the crust off the pan, flip it back over with the charred side (bottom) facing down and let it cool on a wooden cutting board or another type of surface that can stand the heat. A wire rack would be ideal. Repeat this process with the second piece of dough.
For the topping . . .
Place all the chopped baby spinach in a large mixing bowl. Add the ricotta, shredded mozzarella, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, garlic powder, extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh cracked black pepper to taste. Note: go easy on the salt because spinach is naturally high in sodium and the grated cheese has a decent amount as well. It may not even need salt. You be the judge.
Work all those ingredients together with your hands into a big pasty dough-like mixture. Split it in half and spread evenly on each of those beautiful rustic-looking par cooked pizza crusts you made.
Place the pizza crust topped with the spinach mixture back onto the cast iron and into an oven preheated to 475. Check the pizza in 15 minutes and every 5 minutes after that for the desired doneness. Remove from oven. Let sit for 5 minutes and serve.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Thanks for visiting!
Serves 8 (two twelve-inch pies)
1 ½ Cup of water
3 Cups of Caputo “00” flour imported from Naples, Italy
Non-bleached all-purpose flour for dusting work surfaces.
2 teaspoons of granulated cane sugar
2 packets of dry yeast. (do not use instant yeast)
2 teaspoons of salt
1 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For the Mixture/Topping
2 bags or about 4-6 heads of chopped fresh baby spinach
1 ½ pint of ricotta
2 cups of shredded mozzarella
3 tablespoons of grated parigiano-reggiano
1 ½ tablespoon of garlic powder
1 ½ tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt & fresh cracked black pepper to taste