Pizza Dough 101

A little disclaimer before we begin, I’m terrible at making pizza in my home.  I’m used to the space of a professional kitchen, and while I try to simplify and perfect the recipe for home use, it’s ok to make a mess with flour.  And 1 of your pizzas may come out burned, or stick to the peel, it’s all happened to me.  On a second date with my now husband, I offered to cook for him and made pizza. ( Or maybe it was our 3rd date, my husband argues that this wasn’t even him and that I have him confused with another boyfriend at the time.) SO I made pizza on what turned out to be the last of a succession of sweltering days that made up most of that summer.  And the dough 1st proofed out of control.  Then getting distracted, I burned half the pizza.  To this day, most of the time I make pizza at home, I make at least 4 or 5, because I’m guaranteed to burn at least 1 of them.

This recipe for Pizza dough has been reincarnated into many different breads other then pizza.  I’ve used it to make focaccia, ciabatta, sort of a rustic inside out bruscetta.  Once comfortable with the recipe, you will see it’s diversity, so play around.

I find with most bread recipes the hardest part comes in determining the dough’s level of proofness, and for how long it should rise. This can be tricky because depending on how hot or cold it is outside, will make the proofing time vary.  Bread dough ( I say ‘bread’, but I really mean yeast, more on that in another post)  reacts to it’s environment, if it’s warm, you can use less yeast, if it’s cold, you may need to let it rest longer to proof.  This can vary the rhythms of your baking, and be hard to manage the time.  So, to help with those nuances, I recommend taking the temperature of first your water, then your dough.  Keeping the dough roughly around a warm room temp ( between 75-83F) will help it rise more consistently every time.  Just like us, bread wants to be comfortable, and habitat is a big one.

Another foot note to point out, is that dough needs to rest.  If the dough is pushing back, tearing or giving you a hassle in the shaping process, it probably needs more time to rest and the gluten strands will relax, making shaping a hell of a lot easier.   So, basically, like a small child, if it’s uncomfortable or tired, it’s going to make the process of getting dinner ready a huge inconvenience.  However, if you pay attention to it… listen to what it’s trying to say, and respond accordingly, you can persevere.

 

Pizza Dough Recipe:

yield:  4 pies, about 12” each

 

Ingredients:

Instant yeast 2TB

Bread Flour 7c

Water 3c

Sugar ½ tsp

salt 1 ½ TB

 

2nd wets

olive oil 2 tsp

water 2 tsp

milk 2 tsp

 

Procedure:

  • In a kitchen aid mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix flour and water together till it forms a loose dough.
  • Cover the dough and let it rest for 10 min.             IMG_2923
  • After the dough has rested add the yeast, sugar and salt. Mix till combined, about 1 min on speed 1 for 3 min.
  • Mix the dough on speed 2 ( medium high speed)until the dough looks satiny and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  ( 3 min.)
  • On medium high speed slowly add the 2nd wets. IMG_2921
  •  The dough will slosh around a bit , but then absorb the liquids.  Continue to mix 2-3 more min ( a total of 6  min.  The dough should feel wet and sticky, but will move as one mass.                                                                                                                                                                     IMG_2922
  • Transfer dough to an oiled bowl that will allow for the dough to double in volume.   Cover the dough and let rise for 20 min.
  • After 20 min.  pull the sides of the dough towards the center, and flip the dough over inside the bowl.  Cover and rise for 20 more min.  Repeat this routine 2 more times, ( for a total rising time of 1hr, 20min.)
  • Flour a work surface.  Pour the dough out onto the counter, and cut into 4 equal pieces.  Gently fold in the sides, and turn each piece of dough over to become loose balls.  Cover and let rest for 10 min.                                                                                                                            IMG_2920
  • Working with one ball at a time, gently cup your hands around the frame of the ball ( like holding a bowl of soup in your hands.)  Moving your hands together in a counter clockwise motion, you will begin to form a tighter, tauter surface.  Do this to each piece of dough.  Lightly flour a sheet pan or work surface, and place the dough balls, seam side down, and cover with a towel.  Let proof for 1 hr, or until a light touch garners an imprint                                                                      IMG_2919
  • Once dough has proofed , it’s ready to be formed into pizza.   to form your pizza rounds , gently press some of the air out with your fingers ( think finger pads, not tips) don’t knock out all the air, the bubbles are desirable.  Then very gently, pick up 1 side of the dough, while the hanging portion rests on the table.  Slowly move the dough in a circle, gently holding the sides, and always leaving one side hanging.  Gravity will do the work for you in extending the dough.  Once the dough is large enough to fit your hands underneath, ball up your fists like you’re boxing and place the dough over them.  You will look like you are boxing the air, in order to get a larger more circular shaped dough.  Lay the dough on your peel dusted with rice flour or cornmeal.  Now it’s ready for toppings.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  IMG_2916
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