A slice of New York-style pizza is characterized by having a puffy, bread-like, outer crust which quickly tapers down to a very thin, crisp middle. The crust is usually dark brown and somewhat charred in appearance. No pans are used in the cooking process, rather the pizza is assembled on a pizza peel and then placed directly on the oven deck to cook.
In order to simulate the deck of a commercial pizza oven, you should purchase a pizza stone (or unglazed quarry tiles) to allow you to cook the pizza without using a pan. The hot stone draws moisture out of the crust which allows it to become crisp on the outside while remaining bread-like on the inside. Pizza stones are widely available and somewhat expensive. My hands-down favorite are stones made by California Pizza Stones, they are made of a high grade non-toxic Mullite mixture, containing a very high quantity of grog, which makes them virtually indestructible and impervious to thermal shock. The 1-inch thickness provides a lot of thermal mass to hold in the heat, just make sure you preheat the oven (with stone) for at least 1 hour. If you're on a budget, use quarry tiles. Quarry tiles can be found wherever ceramic floor tiles are sold. 3/8 to 1/2-inch thick tiles will suffice (Daltile Red Blaze Q40 unglazed quarry tiles are perfect). If you decide to go with quarry tiles, just make certain that the tiles you choose are unglazed and are made of only natural red clay (i.e., be sure that no harmful chemicals are used in the manufacturing process). Place the stone/tiles on the lowest oven rack.
In a stand mixer (e.g., KitchenAid) fitted with the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until ingredients come together and form a scrappy dough. Add olive oil and mix for a few seconds longer until it's incorporated into the dough. Switch to the dough hook attachment and set mixer to medium speed. Allow mixer to knead the dough for a full 15 minutes at which time it should pass a windowpane test. Place dough in a large oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place dough in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Add the garlic and oregano to the raw tomatoes.
When ready to make pizza, remove dough from refrigerator and allow to warm to room temperature. Preheat your oven (with pizza stone) to 550 °F one hour prior to making pizza.
Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface. Press the dough into a flat, round disc. Use your fingers or the palm of your hand to press the dough out thin, leaving an outside raised edge. Place the dough over your fists and begin stretching it into a large circle. Place the dough on a pizza peel which was been dusted with flour, cornmeal, or semolina flour. Add your sauce, toppings, and cheese (perform this step rather quickly so that the dough will not have time to stick to the peel). Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake until the crust is dark brown and somewhat charred. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving pan and slice.
TIP: A pizza peel is a bit tricky to use at first, but you'll soon get the hang of it! First, it is important to have a good dusting of cornmeal on the peel which keeps the dough from sticking and greatly helps the pizza in sliding off. Before you attempt to transfer the pizza into the oven, hold the peel level and in front of you. Quickly jerk the peel back and forth a few times to loosen the pizza; you'll see the pizza start to slide around a bit. Once it is loose and you are confident that it is not sticking to the peel, place the peel at the very back of the oven, hold the handle at an upward angle, and make a series of short, quick backwards jerks letting the pizza slide off and onto the pizza stone. Some people forget to loosen the pizza and, even worse, try to make one huge backwards jerk to get the pizza off. This usually results in a huge mess!!
Click here to see step-by-step instructions to making a New York-style pizza.
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