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Recipe Wed Feb 21 2007

Talkin' about a different kind of pie

The cover story in the Trib's Good Eating section today is a big love letter to Spacca Napoli, the year-old very-thin-crust-pizza joint at Sunnyside and Ravenswood. And deservedly so; the pizza there -- crust light as air, toppings low in volume but high in flavor -- is sublime and certainly worth the hour wait that usually comes without a reservation. The article briefly talks about the recent rash of Neopolitan pizza restaurants in Chicago, where pizza trends have forever leaned toward the robust, and then segues into how to make this type of pizza at home.

Photo courtesy of Spacca Napoli

Pizzerias like Spacca Napoli will bake your order in wood-burning ovens that reach to temperatures of 1000 degrees. At home you're going to have to adapt to a more modest set-up. The Trib article has some recipes for thin-crust pizzas, all of which sound tasty. But they're all predicated on an implementation of their recipe for the crust, an endeavor that takes eight hours of refridgeration time, plus several hours of prep on either end. I'm sure the result is worth it, but in case you're less ambitious, or have less time, I thought I'd share an easier recipe for dough that my wife Sarah and I have developed over many years of pizza making. This is not nearly as sophisticated a recipe, and won't result in as thin of a crust, but it works, and tastes fantastic.

  • Combine about a half cup of warm water with about 2 tsp of active dry yeast and a teaspoon of sugar. Set aside.
  • Put about three cups of all-purpose flour and maybe a few teaspoons of wheat gluten and a teaspoon of salt in your food processor, with the plastic dough blade if you've got it.
  • When the yeast mixture is foamy, add more liquid (water and/or milk) to make about a cup total liquid.
  • Turn the food processor on. Through the tube feed a tablespoon of olive oil, then half the liquid, then another tablespoon of olive oil, then the rest of the liquid (really slowly).
  • After a while the mass will start to cohere. Let it roll around in there for a few minutes. If it's really sticky, knead in more flour.
  • Form it into a nice ball and stick it in a freezer bag with some olive oil to roll around in (a teaspoon maybe). Push out all the air when you close the bag.
  • Stick it in the fridge. (This will slow down the rising. If you want do it quicker, leave it out for two hours, punch it down, then wait 15 minutes.)
  • The next day, the bags will have puffed up along with the dough. If you encounter a weird smell, like it's fermented or turned to sourdough, that's normal. They'll taste fine when cooked.
 

Naz / February 22, 2007 12:33 PM

Spacca holds the title for best pizza I've had in Chicago. I'm a big fan of thin quality crusts and minimal ingredients -- like the pizza I had as a child while traveling in Italy -- real Italian style.

I'll have to give this dough a try.

tom sherman / March 3, 2007 1:29 PM

With halfhearted apologies to the Spacca lovers across Chicago, I've got to say this place is *just not that good*. I went through the requisite 1 hour wait, which was actually not so bad; the owner (I assume it was him) came out and chatted, and brought bread to stave off our hunger. Our server was fine, and the decor was nice.

But the pizza? Let's be honest here: this is pizza. Pizza can only go so far. And to think that I spent $14 for a personal serving of pizza--one that really wasn't big enough to satisfy my appetite in the absence of a salad--this just isn't worth the hype. I certainly prefer Chicago's Pizza (although that's thick crust, of course) but also prefer Pizano's.

I went once and enjoyed it but will spend my $15-for-an-entree elsewhere.

Camwood Properties / August 21, 2009 2:36 AM

I'm sure the result is worth it, but in case you're less ambitious, or have less time, I thought I'd share an easier recipe for dough that my wife Sarah and I have developed over many years of pizza making. This is not nearly as sophisticated a recipe, and won't result in as thin of a crust, but it works, and tastes fantastic.

free internet markering / August 26, 2009 4:27 AM

Thanks for informing us.. Good oppurtunity this is…


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Anon / October 15, 2009 5:07 AM

UUUmmmm...love pizza!
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Craft Beer, Community and Creativity: An Interview with Locally Brewed Author Anna Blessing

By Christina Brandon

In the introduction to Locally Brewed: Portraits of Craft Breweries from America's Heartland, author and photographer Anna Blessing writes that she wants "to tell the story of the people behind the beer."
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