Pizzetta 211 Margherita Pizza – My Photographic Results

I was very intrigued by the LONG mixing time for Sunset Magazine’s “Pizzetta 211” pizza dough, so I did some testing and here’s what I found so far (the dough is still rising, so not finished results yet) Following the instructions, I first bloomed the yeast. As a side note, many chefs today do not believe that this step is necessary any longer.  It used to be that dried yeast came to us in such a poor state that it needed this short developmental period to reactivate (and so you could tell if you had just purchased dead yeast or not.) These days, it is perfectly safe to skip this step – especially when you are planning on a long, cool rise time. Anyways, I did it despite my modern learnin’. Then I started the mixer in to its half an hour long trek – stopping once to snap a photo at five minutes. As you can see below, the difference between 5 minutes of mixing and 30 was pretty dramatic. As the dough came out of the bowl after thirty minutes, it was very soft and very smooth. I placed it directly in the fridge where I plan to rest it for the afternoon before pulling it out, resting it on the counter for an hour or so, and then tossing it up.

After a few hours in the fridge, and then one more on the counter, the dough had risen substantially. What I had thought would make just one pizza turned out to be two sizable pies. The dough was extremely elastic and spread very evenly and nicely. I baked a pizza both on a baking stone as well as in my normal pan and each of them came out very nicely. Overall, I felt the recipe was a bit too salty, and the yeast was a bit too active if I wanted to give it a 3 day rest in the fridge. I am going to experiment with using less yeast and less salt and see if I can hone in on the flavor I prefer. As for texture, this was tried by my testing staff (alicia) and was deemed “the best crust yet” by a mouth that knows :) Once I get the salt/yeast thing figured out, and try it out with a nice long rest, this dough just replace Tony’s dough that I have sworn by for the better part of 2009.

I’ll keep you posted.

Pizzetta 211 Margherita Pizza – As Seen In Sunset Magazine

Margherita pizza from Pizzetta 211 in San Francisco

Sunset magazine recently had an article entitled Pizza Rises in the West in which they detailed some of the West Coast’s best pizza joints. This was a fun little little article, especially if  you live within striking distance of the article’s epicenter, San Francisco. Anyways, they’ve also shared a dough/sauce recipe with us that, on it’s face, looks very plain, but has a few interesting twists that might just make you rethink your current dough techniques. Check out the type of flour and the mix time on that dough. That’s right, a full half an hour of stand mixing to develop the relatively weak gluten in the AP flour. My interest is peaked! Also, you can click here for the original recipe posting. Enjoy!

Time: 2 3/4 hours. The extended mixing time for the dough develops the gluten in the flour and produces a pizza crust with a nice stretchy texture around the rim. A pizza stone, available at cookware shops, creates the super-heated surface you need for a great crust. You can get decent results, though, with a preheated baking sheet instead.

Yield: Makes 4 pizzas (10 to 11 in. each; 32 slices)


  • 2  teaspoons  active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2  cups  all-purpose flour, divided
  • About 2 tsp. sea salt
  • About 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1  can (14.5 oz.) crushed or diced tomatoes (preferably organic), whizzed briefly in a food processor to a chunky purée
  • 2  garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1  cup  lightly packed basil leaves
  • 2/3  pound  fresh mozzarella (preferably fiore di latte), cut into 1/2-in. cubes (about 2 cups)
  • About 1 tsp. dried oregano


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup room-temperature water and the yeast. Let stand 15 minutes at room temperature.

2. In bowl of a stand mixer using dough hook, mix 2 cups flour, 2 tsp. salt, 1 tbsp. olive oil, and yeast mixture on medium speed until well incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and mix about 30 minutes, or until dough is very smooth and elastic.

3. Meanwhile, make tomato sauce: In a medium pot, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add garlic and swirl in hot oil until it starts to smell good, about 15 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and simmer, uncovered, to thicken and cook off the “canned” flavors, at least 25 minutes.

4. While sauce is cooking, put 1/4 cup olive oil and basil leaves in a food processor and whirl to finely chop basil, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Stir 1 tbsp. basil oil into tomato sauce as it’s cooking, along with 1 pinch salt. Pour remaining basil oil into a small bowl and cover surface with a thin layer of olive oil.

5. As soon as dough is ready, divide into 4 portions. Using both hands, roll each portion with a circular pressing motion until it becomes a tight ball. Dust each ball with flour, set it on a floured baking sheet, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let dough rise 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size (do not let rise longer than 1 hour).

6. Put a pizza stone or baking sheet on bottom shelf of oven and preheat to 550° (or as high as oven will go), at least 25 minutes. Working with 1 dough ball at a time, set on a well-floured pizza peel or baking sheet and stretch into a 10- to 11-in. circle. To stretch into a 10- to 11-in. circle, first tap down center of ball with your fingertips to gently deflate it. Next, push it outward from the center with your fingertips. Then pick up the dough circle and, holding it under the rim, turn it like a steering wheel, letting the gravity of the dough help it stretch. Drape the dough over the backs of your hands and gently stretch outward, rotating periodically. Flop the stretched dough down onto the pizza peel.

7. Spoon 3 to 4 tbsp. tomato sauce onto dough, leaving at least a 1/2-in. border.

8. Plant tip of pizza peel (or long edge of baking sheet) on pizza stone (or preheated sheet) and shove pizza quickly onto stone and bake 3 to 6 minutes, or until crust looks dryish but not browned. Remove pizza from oven and sprinkle on about 1/2 cup mozzarella cubes in clusters, then 1 generous pinch oregano. Return to oven and cook 2 to 5 minutes more, or until crust is golden brown and firm but not rock hard. Transfer pizza to a cutting board and drizzle with basil oil. Assemble and bake rest of pizzas the same way.

Make ahead: Dough can be formed into balls (step 5) and chilled overnight, tightly covered with plastic wrap, instead of rising on counter (it will rise slowly in the fridge). You can also freeze the dough for up to 2 weeks (let chilled or frozen dough come to room temperature before stretching).

Variation: Pizzetta 211 Pepperoni Pizza

Follow directions for Pizzetta 211 Margherita Pizza. In step 7, lay 8 or 9 slices Molinari Hot Salami or your favorite spicy salami over dough (you’ll need about 4 oz. for 4 pizzas). Bake as directed.