February 4, 2019

Basic Pizza Dough

Recipe: Basic Pizza Dough

Makes enough pizza dough for 5 10 inch pizzas | Prep Time 15 minutes | Resting Time: 1 to 2 hours | Cooking Time 4 to 6 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups filtered water at around 105 F
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • About 5 to 6 cups strong flour(bread or pizza flour)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp salt

Instructions

  1. Mix water with sugar and 2 tbsp of flour.
  2. Add yeast, whisk and wait a few minutes until it hydrates and blooms. This step also serves to make sure your yeast is active. You will know the mixture is ready because it will become very bubbly.
  3. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Start mixing in the flour, 1 cup at a time, at low speed.
  4. Keep adding flour gradually until a ball forms.
  5. Add salt and olive oil. Increase the speed of the mixer 1 or two notches and keep kneading until smooth and elastic.Note: you may or may not need use all the flour. Use your judgment and intuition. You are trying to get a dough that is tacky but not sticky. 
  6. Remove from the mixer bowl, form into a ball, pinch the bottom and place into a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.
  7. Set in a warm place in your kitchen until the dough doubles in size, for about an hour (next to your oven, but not on top of the stove as they will be hot and might prematurely cook the dough.)
  8. Using a sharp object such as a bench scraper divide the dough into 250 gram pieces and roll each one into a ball, pinching the bottom.
  9. Press each ball into a flat disk and dredge in flour. Place on a flat pan and cover. Allow to proof for 15 minutes to half an hour.
  10. When ready to assemble your pizza, press a disk down with your fingers and begin to form a rim. Repeatedly punch the dough with all your fingers from both hands until it flattens.
  11. Grab the dough with your thumb on one side and all your fingers on the other, and begin a motion resembling driving with a steering wheel. The dough will begin stretching out of its own weight. Keep doing this motion until you have a dough that is evenly thin, and hopefully round (if it is not do not worry, the pizza will be delicious anyway.)
  12. Place on a peel that has been sprinkled with flour. Shake a little bit and make sure the dough can move around freely. Place your desired toppings and slide, using a jerking motion, into a 525F oven with a pizza stone or steel.
  13. Follow the instructions on the individual recipes located at the end of the pizza class description.

Notes

Making your own pizza is an almost magical process. No matter how many times I do it I am always fascinated by the results: starting with four basic ingredients and transforming them into a dough that is teeming with life. Each time I learn something new about the nuances and details that help me get better and better over time.


I never measure my flour too carefully, instead relying on the visual and sensory clues from the dough determining how much to add. Starting with a measured amount of water, in this case 2.5 cups, I know I will be making enough pizza dough for at least 5 to 6 pizzas.


This recipe is designed to make your pizza proof fast. That’s why we are using a whole tablespoon of active dry yeast. There are countless variations on the dough, but these basic instructions produce a very delicious pie.

You can, of course, use less yeast and allow the dough to proof for a longer period of time, even overnight. This process will produce a more flavorful dough as the yeast will compete with bacteria in the environment, resulting in some fermentation of the carbohydrates present in the flour.


A few words about yeast and flour

Yeast is a live organism, and as such it breathes, much like we do, inhaling oxygen and exhaling CO2. At 130F it dies, and below 100F it is not active enough. It also reproduces and creates many more cells, thereby populating your dough with many more yeast cells than you started with. The dough contains gluten, a result of mixing the flour with water and kneading. The gluten network then traps the CO2 exhaled by the yeast, causing it to rise and create the pockets of air in the crumb after we cook it.

For this reason, it is best to start with a flour that has a high protein content, sometimes called strong flour. You could use bread flour, which meets this characteristic. All purpose flour would work, but the pizza would be less elastic and more difficult to stretch.


We never use a rolling pin to stretch our pizza. Doing so would crush the gluten network and deflate all the nice bubbles we worked so hard to create.


Equipment

Although not really required, your pizza will turn out better if you use a pizza stone or better yet a pizza steel in your oven. The stone or steel lose very little temperature when the colder pizza hits it, instead immediately transferring a sudden burst of heat and cooking the crust almost immediately. Also, the pizza dough reaches a high temperature very rapidly, immediately killing the yeast, which releases a final burst of CO2. This results in a nice, tight, bubbly texture in the inside of the crunchy dough.


Learn to make this and much more at our cooking class:

New York Style Pizza

Pizza Margherita
Pizza Bianca
Pesto Pizza
Pizza Dough
The Foodery

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