Perfect Pizza Dough

 

Over the years I have tried a lot of different recipes for pizza dough.  The pizzas that I made were always successful, but I was never blown away by the crust. I’ve found you can disguise a mediocre crust with really great toppings, but why settle for mediocre? When I go to my favorite pizza restaurants I would never discard that extra inch of bread, yet at home I always did. I needed to do something about that.

That’s where this recipe comes in. This recipe yields dough that is crisp on the bottom with a tender and chewy crust around the edges. You aren’t overwhelmed with a flour-y taste and it has just the right amount of olive oil flavor. It works just as well with plain cheese pizza as it does with a flavorful BBQ Chicken pizza (like the photo, recipe to come). Quite simply, it’s the perfect pizza dough. Do not be intimidated by the length of these directions, it’s really not difficult to make and the recipe makes enough for 2 pizzas, so the work of one day spreads to 2 meals!

*Warning – I took a LOT of photos of this process!


Perfect Pizza Dough

Ingredients
1/2 cup warm water (about 110°)
1/4 tsp granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp (1 envelope) instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tsp salt
olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl

Directions
Stir together 1/2 cup of warm water with the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and allow to proof for 5 minutes (yeast will dissolve, water will start to look milky and foamy). Stir in the room temperature water and olive oil.

While the yeast is proofing, stir together the bread flour and salt. Create a well in the flour and pour in the water/yeast mixture.

Using a strong wooden spoon, begin to work the flour into the liquid.

When it becomes too difficult to do by hand, flip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead with hands for 10 minutes until it forms a smooth and elastic ball, adding only enough flour to work surface and hands to keep dough from sticking. If the dough seems too dry and hard to knead, you can add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Alternatively, use a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook to combine flour and salt. Pour in the liquid and allow to knead on low speed for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. 

At this point I think the dough needed just a minute or so more of kneading

Spray a large mixing bowl with non-stick cooking spray or coat lightly with olive oil. Add the ball of dough, gently moving it around the bowl to coat with oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 90-120 minutes, or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough. If you plan to bake immediately, preheat oven to hottest temperature (450-500 degrees F) and place a pizza stone in the lower 1/3 of oven. If you plan to use later, divide dough into 2, shape into balls, cover tightly with plastic wrap, place in a ziploc bag, and freeze. Later, remove dough from freezer and allow to thaw in fridge overnight, then proceed to following steps. Do the same with one ball if you plan to make one pizza now and one pizza later.

Divide dough into 2. Cover with a clean, damp towel, and allow to relax for 10-20 minutes. Working one at a time, place the dough ball on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. Use hands and begin to stretch the dough, turning the parchment paper as necessary to keep an even round shape, into a 12-inch round. Using a pastry brush, apply a thin layer of olive oil to the outer inch. Top with desired toppings, leaving the outer 3/4-1 inch ridge.

Using a pizza peel or large cookie sheet, transfer parchment paper and pizza to hot pizza stone and bake for 8-12 minutes or until the outer crust starts to turn golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Repeat with second ball of dough, if using right away.

Tips:

  • Always preheat oven to highest temperature at least 30 minutes prior to baking. Hot, hot, hot ovens are how pizza delivery joints get crispy crust.
  • If desired, use hands to create an outer ridge in the dough. (I cup my left hand a little and use the outside edge of my right to sort of “pinch” the dough all the way around)
  • If you are having trouble stretching your pizza dough, allow it rest for 5-10 minutes. This gives the gluten time to relax.
  • Don’t be afraid to cook the pizza right on the parchment paper. It makes it much easier to transfer to the oven.

Source: Baking Illustrated, as seen on Good Thymes and Good Food

Comments

  1. >This truly is the best pizza dough!!! I'm going to try to hand knead it next time, too.

  2. Jessica says:

    >Ya know, it's funny, I enjoy kneading by hand so much more than I ever thought I would. And this pizza dough is awesome!

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