This pizza may sound heavy, but it comes out light, crisp, and airy. Easily one of the best, tastiest ways to cook pizza at home without a wood-burning oven.
Note: Use high quality fresh mozzarella or smoke mozzarella. You can mimic smoked mozzarella by adding a 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke (I prefer Wright's brand) to 2 cups of milk, breaking up the mozzarella ball into 1- to 2-inch chunks, and soaking them in the milk for 1 hour.
- Yield:makes 4 pizzas
- Active time: 45 minutes
- Total time:1 day
- 16 ounces (about 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons) bread flour, plus more for dusting
- .3 ounces (about 2 1/3 teaspoons) kosher salt, plus extra for assembly
- .2 ounces (about 1 teaspoon) active dry yeast
- 11 ounces (1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) water
- 1 (14-ounce) can whole peeled Italian tomatoes packed in juice
- 2 quarts vegetable, canola, or peanut oil
- 1 (12 to 16-ounce) ball buffalo mozzarella or fresh cow's milk mozzarella, at room temperature (see note)
- Handful fresh basil leaves
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Combine flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Whisk until homogenous. Add water and stir with hands until dough comes together and no dry flour remains. Knead lightly for about 30 seconds, then cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 16 hours.
Turn dough out onto lightly floured board and using floured hands, divide into four pieces. Form each piece into a ball and place on floured board, leaving a few inches of space between each ball. Cover with plastic wrap or with a moist, clean dish towel. Let rise for two hours.
Meanwhile, roughly blend tomatoes in a food processor, blender, with a hand blender, or by hand. Season to taste with salt. Roughly tear mozzarella into 1/2- to 1-inch chunks and squeeze out excess whey.
When dough has risen, preheat broiler to high heat with the rack set about 6 inches below the broiler element. Place a 10-inch cast iron or stainless steel skillet under the broiler. Add oil to a wide wok or Dutch oven and heat over high heat to 350°F, as registered on an instant-read or deep-fry thermometer. Adjust flame to maintain this temperature.
On a lightly floured bowl, stretch or roll one dough ball into a disk about 10-inches in diameter. Using your fingertips, make a dozen to 18 small holes in the stretched dough, leaving the outer 1-inch intact.
Carefully lower dough into hot oil, using a wire mesh spider or large metal spatula to keep it submerged. Fry until puffy and lightly crisped on bottom side, about 45 seconds. Carefully flip the dough with tongs and cook until second side is crisp, about 45 seconds longer. Carefully remove hot skillet from under broiler and set on stovetop. Flip dough back over and transfer to pre-heated skillet.
Spread a few tablespoons of tomato sauce over the dough, leaving the risen bubbly edges uncovered. Scatter a few pieces of mozzarella and a few basil leaves over the pizza. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Transfer to broiler and cook until edges are charred (this will happen much faster than with a normal pizza), about 45 seconds.
Serve pizza immediately. Repeat steps 5 through 7 with remaining pizzas.