Everyone loves pizza! From fluffy Sicilian pan pizza to classic Neapolitan margherita with authentic charred edges, and from Chicago deep-dish to cracker-thin, the pizza spectrum is wide and wonderful, with something to suit every mood and occasion. And with so many fabulous types of pie, why commit to just one style?
A comprehensive guide to making pizza, covering nine different regional styles—including standards like Neapolitan, Roman, and Chicago, as well as renowned pizza sub-specialties like St. Louis and Californian, The Pizza Bible is a complete master class in making delicious, perfect, pizzeria-style pizza at home, with more than seventy-five recipes covering every style you know and love, as well as those you’ve yet to fall in love with. Pizzaiolo and eleven-time world pizza champion Tony Gemignani shares all his insider secrets for making amazing pizza in home kitchens.
With The Pizza Bible , you’ll learn the ins and outs of starters, making dough, assembly, toppings, and baking, how to rig your home oven to make pizza like the pros, and all the tips and tricks that elevate home pizza-making into a craft. Come see Gemignani at Omnivore on Wednesday, October 22 at 6:30 pm; he’ll also be appearing in conjunction with the book at Sonoma State University, Copperfield’s Books, and San Francisco Cooking School.
Reprinted with permission from The Pizza Bible by Tony Gemignani with Susie Heller and Steve Siegelman, © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Photography © 2014 by Sara Remington. Please support your local bookstore or purchase using our affiliate links through IndieBound or Amazon.
Makes one 13-inch pizza; 6 slices
In 2006, I packed up my gear and traveled to the Mall of America for the Food Network Pizza Champions Challenge. Over the course of a very grueling day, we competed for three Guinness World Records in front of a big audience and a panel of famous judges. I won two of the world-record rounds: Biggest Pizza Continuously Spinning for Two Minutes, and Most Consecutive Rolls Across the Shoulders in 30 Seconds.
By comparison, round three, the cooking challenge, felt as easy as pie. Four of us gathered at our stations to get our marching orders: create a gourmet pizza in ten minutes using none of the top ten toppings—no pepperoni, no sausage, you get the idea. So, my instinct was to combine two of my favorite pizza worlds, California and Italy. I grabbed five totally traditional Italian ingredients: prosciutto, fig jam, Gorgonzola, Asiago, and balsamic vinegar. They’re classic, but the thing is, you’d never find them on a pizza in Italy, at least not all together. But to us “why not?” Californians, the combination makes perfect sense as a pizza topping, and it made sense to the judges, too.
1 (13 oz/370 g) ball Master Dough, preferably with starter (see accompanying recipe) made with Poolish
3 parts flour mixed with 1 part semolina, for dusting
2 oz (55 g) piece Asiago cheese, cold, for shaving
6 oz (170 g) whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 oz (45 g) Gorgonzola cheese, broken into small pieces
2 to 3 tbs (40-60 g) fig jam, preferably Dalmatia brand
3 oz (85 g) thinly sliced prosciutto (about 6 slices)
Balsamic Glaze (see accompanying recipe) in a small squeeze bottle
Remove the dough ball from the refrigerator and leave wrapped at room temperature until the dough warms to 60°F to 65°F. Meanwhile, set up the oven with two pizza stones or baking steels and preheat to 500°F for 1 hour.
Dust the work surface with the dusting mixture, then move the dough to the surface and dust the top.
Sprinkle a wooden peel with the dusting mixture.
Roll out the dough into a round 15 inches in diameter. Using a pizza wheel, trim the dough to a 13-inch round, flatten the edge, then dock the surface of the dough.
Move the dough to the peel. As you work, shake the peel forward and backward to ensure the dough isn’t sticking.
Using a vegetable peeler, shave the Asiago over the surface of the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border. Mound the mozzarella in the center of the pizza and use your fingertips to spread it out evenly over the Asiago.
Slide the pizza onto the top stone.
Bake for seven minutes. Lift the pizza onto the peel and distribute the Gorgonzola pieces evenly over the top. Rotate the pizza 180 degrees, transfer it to the bottom stone, and bake for three to four minutes, until the bottom is browned and crisp and the top is golden brown. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board and cut into six wedges. Spoon small dollops of fig jam (about 1/4 tsp each) around the pizza. Tear the prosciutto slices lengthwise into two or three strips and drape the pieces over the pizza slices. To finish, squeeze a thin spiral of balsamic glaze onto the pizza.
Purple Potato and Pancetta
Makes one 12 by 18-inch pizza; 12 squares
This nontraditional Sicilian is my own creation, and it’s a big seller at my takeout Slice House. The purple potatoes need to soak for a full hour to remove some of their starch, so start them soaking when you preheat the oven. They’ll get a bit paler as they cook, but they still add a cool splash of color. For this pizza, I like smoked pancetta, a northern Italian specialty also known as pancetta affumicata . It’s a bit harder to find than regular pancetta, which is cured but not smoked. Smoked pancetta is fully cooked and has a mild, sweet-smoky flavor. It doesn’t crisp when it bakes on top of the pizza. Buy it sliced, like bacon, and freeze the slices for about 20 minutes to make cutting it easier. If you can’t find it, substitute a good thick-cut smoked bacon.
1 parbaked Sicilian Dough (see accompanying recipe)
4 oz (115 g) small purple potatoes (about 3), about 1 1/2 inches in diameter
3 oz (85 g) sliced smoked pancetta
10 oz (285 g) whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 1/2 cups)
1 tbs (9 g) minced garlic
Olive oil, for drizzling if needed
2 oz (55 g) piece feta cheese, preferably water-packed Greek
1 tsp (2 g) finely chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 cup (120 g) basil pesto (page 134), at room temperature
If you have turned off the oven after parbaking the dough, reheat it to 450°F for at least one hour.
While the oven heats, using a mandoline, cut the potatoes into paper thin slices and drop them into a bowl of very cold salted water. Let soak for 30 minutes, drain, and repeat with a new batch of salted water. Drain again and dry on paper towels.
Meanwhile, cut the pancetta into lardons (matchsticks) about one inch long and 1/8 inch wide and thick. Don’t worry about cutting them perfectly; a bit of irregularity is more appealing. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, lower the heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, for about two minutes, until most of the fat is rendered and the pancetta is partially cooked. Set aside without draining.
Mound the mozzarella in the center of the dough and use your fingertips to spread it evenly over the top, leaving a 3/4-inch border on all sides. Scatter the garlic over the cheese. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer across the top, and distribute the pancetta over the potatoes.
Place the pan on the top stone and bake for eight minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees, transfer it to the bottom stone, and bake for five minutes. Taste a potato slice. If it isn’t tender, return the pizza to the top stone to bake for one minute, until the potatoes are tender. Using a wide metal spatula, lift a corner of the pizza and peek at the bottom. If you want it darker and crunchier, transfer the pan to the top stone to bake for one to two minutes.
Run the spatula around the edges of the pizza to make sure it has not stuck in any area. If you suspect a problem, drizzle a bit of olive oil down the side of the pan and work slowly to loosen in that area.
Lift the pizza onto the spatula and transfer it to a cutting board. Make two evenly-spaced cuts the length of the pizza (to make three strips of equal width) and make three evenly-spaced cuts across the width of the pizza (to make four strips of equal width), to make 12 squares. Hold the piece of feta over the pizza and crumble it evenly over the top. Finish with a sprinkling of the rosemary and serve with the pesto in a bowl on the side.
Sicilian Dough with Starter
Makes 39 oz (1.1 kg)
3 g (1 tsp) active dry yeast
90 g (1/4 cup plus 2 tbs) warm water (80°F to 85°F)
578 g (4 1/2 cups) flour with 13 to 14 percent protein, preferably All Trumps, or Pendleton Flour Mills Power
13 g (1 1/2 tbs) diastatic malt
296 g (1 1/4 cups) ice water
116 g Poolish
13 g (2 3/4 tsp) fine sea salt
7 g (1/2 tbs) extra virgin olive oil
Olive oil, for coating the pan
Put the yeast in a small bowl, add the warm water, and whisk vigorously for 30 seconds. The yeast should dissolve in the water and the mixture should foam. If it doesn’t and the yeast granules float, the yeast is “dead” and should be discarded. Begin again with a fresh amount of yeast and water.
Combine the flour and malt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
With the mixer running on the lowest speed, pour in most of the ice water, reserving about two tablespoons, followed by the yeast-water mixture. Pour the reserved water into the yeast bowl, swirl it around to dislodge any bits of yeast stuck to the bowl, and add to the mixer. Mix for about 15 seconds, stop the mixer, and add the Poolish.
Continue to mix the dough at the lowest speed for about one minute, until most of the dough comes together around the hook. Stop the mixer. Use your fingers to pull away any dough clinging to the hook, and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a bowl scraper or rubber spatula.
Add the salt and mix on the lowest speed for one minute to combine.
Stop the mixer, pull the dough off the hook, and add the extra virgin oil. Mix the dough for one to two minutes, stopping the mixer from time to time to pull the dough off the hook and scrape down the sides of the bowl, until all of the oil is absorbed. The dough won’t look completely smooth.
Coat a half sheet pan with a film of olive oil. Using the bowl scraper, scrape the dough onto the prepared pan. The dough will be extremely sticky—too sticky to knead .
Working with wet hands, stretch and fold the dough.
Cover the pan with a damp dish towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Use a dough cutter to loosen the dough and move it to the scale. Weigh the dough, adjusting the quantity of dough as necessary for the recipe. You will need 35 ounces (990 grams) for making any of the pizzas.
If making two loaves Ciabatta, you will need to weigh out 19 to 20 ounces (about 550 grams) for each loaf. You may have a little extra dough.
Form the dough into a ball or balls and return the ball(s) to the oiled sheet pan (spacing them three inches apart if you have made two balls). Wrap the pan airtight with a double layer of plastic wrap, sealing the wrap well under the pan. Put the pan in a level spot in the refrigerator and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.
Makes 90 g
0.12 g (one-third of 1/8 tsp) active dry yeast or 0.36 g fresh yeast, broken into small pieces
47 g (3 tbs plus 1 tsp) cold tap water
47 g (1/4 cup plus 2 tbs) flour used in dough recipe
Put the yeast in a small bowl, add the water, and whisk vigorously for 30 seconds. The mixture should bubble on top. If it doesn’t and the yeast granules float, the yeast is “dead” and should be discarded. Begin again with a fresh amount of yeast and water.
Add the flour and stir well with a rubber spatula to combine. The consistency will be quite thick, resembling a thick pancake batter.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature for 18 hours. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to cool slightly before using.
If you are not using the starter right away, you can store it in the refrigerator, though I suggest keeping it for no more than 8 hours. Bring to cool room temperature before using.
Makes 2 1/4 cups (355 g)
8 cups (140 g) lightly packed fresh basil leaves
6 cloves (18 g) garlic
1/4 cup (30 g) pine nuts, lightly toasted and cooled
1 1/4 cups (280 g) olive oil, plus more if needed
1 cup (80 g) grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp (14 g) agave syrup
2 tsp (10 g) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp (1.5 g) fine sea salt
1/4 tsp (.5 g) freshly ground black pepper
Put half of the basil in a blender. Add the garlic, pine nuts, and oil and blend to combine. Scrape down the sides of the jug. Add the remaining basil along with the cheese, agave syrup, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and blend until smooth, stopping and scraping down the sides as necessary.
Pour the pesto into a bowl. If you would like a thinner pesto, mix in additional oil.
Use the pesto immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to two days.
Tony Gemignani is the chef and owner of seven restaurants: Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, Capo’s, and Tony’s Coal-Fired Pizza in San Francisco, Pizza Rock in Sacramento and Las Vegas, Tony’s of North Beach and Slice House by Tony Gemignani in Rohnert Park. He’s also the co-owner of the International School of Pizza in San Francisco. Gemignani has been making pizza for over 20 years and holds an impressive set of awards.