Winter Project: Homemade Sicilian Pizza

There she is, a Sicilian pie so good I emailed a picture of it to my dad.

Winter is the perfect time for thick crusts and gooey cheese, so I decided to make it a February project to learn how to make the perfect Sicilian pizza. After purchasing a coated black pan from Bari Equipment, my favorite restaurant supply store on the Bowery, I set out to craft a square pie that wouldn’t be the all-too-common heavy rock in the stomachs of all wide-eyed eaters. Here’s a rundown of my journey thus far.

I made a batch of dough using little bits of leftover flour from several different sources. This probably wasn’t the best idea, but I couldn’t bare to see lonely little bags of flour just sitting there in my flour bin. So I mixed 50g whole wheat with 350g bread flour and 196g all purpose. I did a 66% hydration with 110g Ischia starter. That means there was 650g total flour, 55 of which came from a starter. If you don’t have a starter, just use 650g flour and you’ll be set (but you’ll have to use more yeast). The 66% hydration means I used a water with a weight of 66% the 650g flour weight. That’s 429g, but 55g of water were already in the starter so I only had to add 374g water to the mix. Confused? Just remember that most starters are 50/50 water to flour, so a 200g portion of starter is 100g water and 100g flour. To boost the air content, I added 1g active dry yeast. After mixing by hand and a 30 rest period, I kneaded in about 15g salt. After another 30 minute rest, I loaded the finished dough into a lightly-oiled  container and let her sit in the fridge for a couple days.

My oiled dough prepping for its final rise on baking day.

I ended up baking my pizza about two days after making the dough. Unlike with Neapolitan pizza, square pies require a long rise after stretching and before baking. Getting the dough into the square pan requires a series of short rises inter-cut by delicate stretching. It took about three hours to get the dough from a ball to this square shape. I’m actually going to try a longer rise and a single stretch next time because this pie came out a bit too dense for me. I should note that this dough is lightly covered with oil, so it won’t dry out during the rise.

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