Hubby and I heard those words ring out many times over the course of our stay at Casa San Carlo in Monteleone d’Orivetto, Umbria, Italy. Wednesday night each week is pizza night when the guests and staff get together, surround the 800-degree brick pizza oven and make pizzas.
I’ve used the same pizza dough recipe for years and it’s good, but it has never quite tasted the same or had the same texture as the pizzas we ate in Italy. So it was fantastic to learn an authentic Italian recipe while spending six weeks at Casa San Carlo.
The dough, the platform of the pizza, is the most important part of the pizza. Toppings are also very important, so buy the best quality of ingredients that you can afford, but since the pizza dough is your base, having the right dough recipe is essential for having an awesome pizza.
We learned a lot about making pizza while at Casa San Carlo. The fun, for us, began a few hours ahead of pizza night when we chopped, sliced and diced our way through a few kilos of pizza toppings and depending on the number of guests, kneaded up to six kilos of pizza dough per evening.
Then we helped supervise the guests in their pizza making endeavors while making sure they didn’t run out of toppings until they had eaten at least one too many pizzas. David even learned how to build the wood fire in the oven and how to pick up the prepared pizzas, cook them in the oven and return them to each guest, mostly without incident.
I’ve always been sold on the flavor of wood-fired pizza and am even more so now. Someday, I’ll have my own wood-fired pizza oven out on the patio next to the grill because pizza cooked any other way just doesn’t ooze in yumminess the way a wood-fired one does. Until then, I’ll cook my pizzas in the oven or on the grill.
We spent a fun six weeks making pizzas and other food at Casa San Carlo. We made new friends, learned new foods and found, even more, reasons to love the Umbrian region of Italy. And while we were just a little tired of pizza for a few weeks after being there, it wasn’t long before we were back to making our own homemade pizzas once again. Just with a new pizza dough recipe this time.
Authentic Italian Pizza Dough
The recipe for an easy-to-make, slightly chewy authentic Italian pizza dough that I learned to make while living in Italy.
1 pkg. or 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 cup of warm milk (about 108º to 115º F)
1/2 cup room temp. sparkling water
2 1/2 cups 000 pizza flour or use bread flour or other high-gluten flour + more for kneading
1 Tbsp. of olive oil
1 tsp. lard, if desired
3/4 tsp. salt
a small amount of semolina or cornmeal for rolling out
In a large bowl mix the yeast and the warm milk until the yeast dissolves and allow to sit for about 10 minutes and looking bubbly.
Add the rest of the ingredients, except semolina, stirring well to mix. Then turn out a floured surface and knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Clean the large mixing bowl, dry well and coat with a thin coat of olive oil. Place the prepared dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the top with oil.
Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour.
Preheat oven to 425º F or 225º C.
Punch dough down and divide into two pieces for large pizzas. Divide more if you want smaller ones. Roll the dough out to desired thickness.
Place on lightly greased pizza pans or use a pizza stone.
Add the ingredients of your choice and pop into the hot oven until the crust and cheese are browning.