The toppings you use for your pizza should be about creating a light pizza with lots of flavor. I love sauce and I love cheese but for a really good and well balanced New York style pizza avoid using too much of either. Perhaps the most important reason is it takes away from other flavors and add a heavy aspect to the experience similar to eating a deep dish pizza. Secondly the crust is not built for supporting pounds of cheese and toppings potentially resulting in a pizza land slide or one that doesn’t cook completely leaving a soggy crust. I also would suggest not getting very particular about everything being perfectly even, one of the joys of pizza is each bite being slightly different, perhaps one bite has more sauce than the next but the next has extra cheese and a piece of salami. Each bite becomes its own experience, especially given there is no perfect way to top a pizza, so let the subtle variations keep each bite unique.
What you need
- Formed New York style dough, on pizza peel
- Tomato sauce, or other sauce
- 5-6 ounces Mozzarella cheese
- Additional toppings if desired
Back to: Forming a New York style pizza
- You have your pizza dough stretched out, ready for adding your toppings and all of your toppings cut, cooked and ready to go on the pizza. You need to work quicly at this point to minimize the chance of any dough sticking to the pizza peel. Try for three minutes or less.
- Add the amount of sauce you want, about a quarter of a cup, to the center of the dough. In a spiral motion with a large spoon or ladle spread the sauce from the center out. You should see some of the dough through the sauce in places, if not you have too much. Avoid over working the sauce as it is not good for the dough. With practice you should be able to get the sauce spread out evenly all in one spiral motion.
- Spread the cheese out over the dough starting with the outside edges and working your way in. Due to the way the heat bakes a pizza in the oven you would want to put just a bit more on the outside of the pie than the inside. The outside cooks a bit faster so using a little more cheese on the outside results in a even bake. In this photo I used Mozzarella cheese shreaded from a block, if you want to use fresh cut in thin slices and don’t put a slice in the middle. It is tempting, but when you go to cut the pizza the dough can’t support a hunk of cheese on the tip and it ends up falling off anyways.
- Add some delicious quality toppings to your pizza to finish it off and remember be creative with what you use and how you might prepare vegetables prior to baking the pizza such as caramelizing onions or roasting bell peppers. Avoid overdoing it with the toppings, a New York slice of pizza is meant to be light. If you over do the toppings you end up with a pizza that is hard to eat due to things falling off; if you want more just have another slice!
- Before you put it in the oven remember to give the peel a jiggle to make sure no part of the dough has started to stick, if so it will probably work loose in a few more jiggles of the pizza peel. Its better to discover this before its half on the baking stone, in a 550°F oven!
For topping ideas visit the New York style pizza section of the blog.