Unlike the thick-rimmed Neapolitan style of pizza popular across the globe, Rome’s version of the famous flatbread is thin and practically rimless. Most pizzerias prefer a quick, barely fermented dough. As a result, Roman-style pizza is relatively bland, as the yeast and flour don’t have the time to work together to create complex flavors. Our version, not bogged down by a pizzeria’s bottom line, uses a long, cold fermentation for results that are fragrant, crispy, and a bit chewy. The small amount of durum flour and the slow refrigerated rise give the crust its extra crunch and tastiness. Use a stand mixer to knead the dough, or budget 10–15 minutes for hand kneading. The final trick is to stretch or roll the pizza so the base is very thin. Then add the toppings of your choice—feel free to get creative.
Reprinted from Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City. Copyright 2016 by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill. Photographs copyright 2016 by Kristina Gill. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
- Pinch (1/2 g) active dry yeast
- 1 C + 3 T (280 g) cold water
- 3 1/4 C (450 g) bread flour
- 1/4 C + 2 T (50 g) durum wheat flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 T (12 g) sea salt
- 2 t (12 g) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
- + neutral oil, for brushing
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water and set aside for a few minutes, until the yeast has dissolved.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flours, then add the yeast mixture. Mix on the lowest speed until the dough comes together, about 3 minutes. Then rest the dough, still in the mixer, for 5 minutes. Add the salt and mix on medium speed for 4 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and has developed good elasticity. With the mixer running on medium speed, slowly add the oil and mix until incorporated.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut it into four even pieces with a dough scraper or knife.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, take four edges and pull and fold them into the center. Do not flatten. The dough will tighten up and take on a round shape. Flip the dough, seam-side down, on the work surface. Place the palm of your hand on top of the ball, resting your thumb and pinkie against the sides and your other fingertips on the counter. Gently move the ball in circles, taking care to prevent any tears. You will feel the dough tighten further. Repeat this process with the remaining dough pieces.
Place the shaped dough balls on a greased baking sheet. Brush lightly with neutral oil and cover the whole baking sheet with plastic wrap. Transfer to the refrigerator and allow the dough to cold-rise for 24 hours.
Three hours before baking, remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature, still covered. The dough will rise slightly as it warms.
Preheat the broiler to high and set an inverted baking sheet or baking stone on the second highest rack in the oven to preheat as well.
Place one dough ball on a well-floured surface, then sprinkle more flour on top. Work the dough into a small disk by pushing your fingertips near the center of the dough and radiating outward toward the edges, leaving the center just slightly higher. Continue until you have a round disk about 6 inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick. Flip over the disk and move it to a portion of the work surface that is just lightly floured. Place both hands on top, palms down, side by side. Use one hand to anchor the dough and, working slowly and carefully, use the other to gently push and stretch the dough away from the center. Turn a quarter turn and repeat, repositioning your hands each time. Continue until the disk is 12—15 inches in diameter and as thin as possible without tearing. Alternatively, use a rolling pin to achieve desired dimensions.
Transfer the shaped dough to a pizza peel or a parchment paper-lined inverted baking sheet. Add your toppings and transfer the pizza to the preheated baking sheet or baking stone. Bake until the crust is crisp and the toppings are cooked, 8—9 minutes. If baking without toppings, drizzle with olive oil before baking and remove the pizza from the oven as it begins to brown, 5—6 minutes, then season with salt to taste.
Repeat with the remaining dough balls. Serve immediately after baking.