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In São Paulo, Brazil, where reportedly half the population of more than 12 million is of Italian descent, pizza reigns supreme. An estimated 1 million pies are served up each day at the 6,000 or so pizzerias across the South American metropolis. But whereas Neapolitan pizza is defined by restraint and exacting standards, we learned firsthand that Brazilian pizza is made with an anything-goes attitude, resulting in some uniquely delicious pies. The crust of the typical São Paulo pizza is thicker than that of Neapolitan pizza so it provides good support for generous toppings, whatever they may be. And though crisp on the bottom, it tends to be rather soft and tender. The sauce is almost always made from fresh tomatoes, uncooked and seasoned sparingly. To re-create São Paulo-style pizza crust, we found that unbleached all-purpose flour yielded the best results (in particular, Gold Medal brand, which has a protein content of about 10.5 percent). And to develop flavor as well as achieve the texture we sought, we allow the dough to rise at room temperature for a couple hours, then refrigerate it for 24 to 72 hours. It is all easy to do, but keep in mind that it does require some planning. Despite its name, Portuguese pizza is a Brazilian creation and a standard offering at any São Paulo pizzeria. The toppings are tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, olives, hard-cooked egg and onion (usually raw, but we especially liked the sautéed onion Bráz Elettrica puts on their Portuguese pizza). The version we tasted at 1900 Pizzaria also included sliced hearts of palm, which we loved, so we add some to ours, too.
grams (4 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed and for dusting
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