Pizza Margherita

This classic pizza tastes even better when it’s pulled crisp and sizzling from a wood-fired oven.

August 15, 2013 | | Food | FOOD Autumn - Winter 2013 | Main Dishes | Recipes

Pizza Margherita





  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1¾ cups unbleached (approximately) all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting
  • ¾ cup warm water, divided
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tbsp olive oil


  • 1 (14- to 15-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 basil leaves plus more for sprinkling
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 oz (175 g) fresh mozzarella, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices


  1. Stir together yeast, 1 tbsp flour, and ¼ cup warm water in a large bowl and let stand until surface appears creamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add 1¼ cups flour, remaining ½ cup water, salt, and oil and stir until smooth. Stir in enough flour (about ¼ cup) for dough to begin to pull away from side of bowl. (Dough will be slightly wet.)
  3. Knead on a floured surface, lightly reflouring when dough becomes too sticky, until smooth, soft, and elastic, about 8 minutes. Form into a ball, put in a bowl, and dust with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, about 1¼ hours.
  4. Pulse tomatoes with juice in a blender briefly to make a chunky purée. Cook garlic in oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until fragrant and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Add tomato purée, basil and sugar and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until thickened and reduced to about ¾ cup, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and cool.
  5. Build fire in bake oven, allowing about 2 hours for oven to heat and wood to burn down. Temperature should be about 600ºF. (If using a conventional oven, place pizza stone in oven and preheat to 500ºF.)
  6. Do not punch down dough. Dust with flour, then transfer to a parchment-lined pizza peel or large baking sheet. Pat dough out with your fingers and stretch into a 12- to 14-inch circle.
  7. Spread sauce over dough leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange cheese on top. Bake until dough is crisp and browned and cheese is golden, about 8 minutes in outdoor oven, 15 minutes in a conventional oven. Sprinkle with basil leaves and serve.

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