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With its open hole structure and classic flavor, Jim Lahey's no-knead dough is well-suited to Neapolitan-style pizzas. Serendipitously, Neapolitan pies are the easiest type of pizza to make at home.
Because these pies are so thin, it's possible to overcome the limitations of a home oven and generate extreme heat long enough to bake the pie to blistery perfection. I find that the easiest and safest way to achieve this level of heat is Heston Blumenthal's broiler method. Blumenthal superheats a cast iron skillet, inverts it, places the pie on the underside of the skillet, and slides it under the broiler to cook the pizza with bidirectional heat.
A Few Tips
- Stretch the dough out as thinly as possible. Even a moderately thin crust may not cook all the way through before the toppings burn. It's really impossible to make this pizza with too thin a crust
- As a corollary to this rule, use light toppings to avoid weighing down the crust. I find it's best to precook vegetable toppings so they don't exude too much moisture once they're on the pie
- Work quickly. If you don't stretch and top the dough fast, it can stick to your work surface, and the skillet can lose heat while it awaits the pie. To facilitate speedy prep, have your mise-en-place fully set up before you start to stretch the dough
- Last (and most important if you live with a landlord or your parents or both), look out for smoke. I recommend heating the skillet on the grill instead of on the stove or under the broiler, as hot cast iron smokes copiously. I also cover the smoke detector with a damp towel. You might have to play around a bit to get the pie as close as possible to the heating element of your broiler without burning it and generating reams of smoke
This method would work well with any dough if stretched thin enough, but Lahey's recipe is particularly well-suited to Neapolitan-style pies. If you don't have a large cast iron skillet, you can use a pizza stone, though it will take more time to heat than a skillet does.
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