Friday, March 13, 2009

Pizza Dough

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A basic pizza dough is only flour, yeast and water, with a little olive oil added. So how come something so simple could be so hard to perfect? I made pizza dough several times and was never really satisfied with the final result. There are so many recipes out there and variations of it, but overall I always felt like I ended up with a pizza that was too thick, or tough, or chewy, or even worse a combination of all previously mentioned. I wanted a pizza that was light in texture, with a flavorful and thin crust.

That's the kind of pizza we like to eat here at home, and that's why we rarely order pizza, neither from home or at a restaurant here in the US. It's too much dough (almost like a bread), the tomato sauce is most of the time very disappointing and the toppings are too much. When it comes to pizza, less is better and I find the average American pizza just "too much." That is not to say there aren't good Italian restaurants making nice pizzas out there. We know  a very good one a few blocks away from our home, but  it costs so much that I rather just make my own at home and save the money (perhaps for a trip to Naples...)  :)

Anyway, after making many different types of dough, I develop my own tricks and found out what really works for me. That is what I am sharing here today, the steps of my pizza making, with plenty of pictures to make it easy to visualize it.


The one thing that really made a difference on how my pizzas tasted was a pizza stone. I am not a gadget person and don't buy what I don't need to, but a pizza stone was well worth the 20 bucks. The pizza comes out  crispy on the bottom and it cooks faster too. I leave my pizza stone in the oven at all times. The pizza peel came with the pizza stone and it helps me a lot too, although I think a rimless cookie sheet would do a good job too (I don't have one).




I use regular all-purpose flour for my everyday pizza recipe. I want to try a whole wheat dough but don't have a good one yet. The amount I use is exactly what you see in this picture. It is a 1 1/2 cups measuring pitcher filled with flour all the way, as much as possible.It is not quite 2 cups, but almost.  This translates into about 400 grams of flour. I start with about 350 grams and use the rest as needed.

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The other dry ingredients are 1 package of dry active yeast (7 g), 1 t teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Everything is whisked together and then 1 tablespoon of olive oil is added along with 200ml (7 oz) of warm water.

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After mixing in the olive oil and warm water with a spoon or spatula, everything goes into the bowl of a stand mixer. Attach the dough hook and knead on low for about 4- 5 minutes (this can be done by hand too).

The dough should be wet and sticky. A dry dough will give you a tough pizza.

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This is how it looks like when it comes out of the mixer, very soft but it holds together.

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The dough then gets transferred to an oiled bowl, covered with a kitchen towel and rests for about 1 hour at a warm spot. I put it near the fire place when it's too cold.



After about 1 hour resting it's time to punch down the dough and transfer it to a well floured surface. I like to dip my hands in flour before doing that so it won't stick so much.



Flour the surface very well and keep adding more flour as needed, but don't over do it, just enough for the dough not to stick to your hands. Make one ball of dough.




Slice it in half, each part will make a 12 inch round pizza. I normally use one right away and wrap the second one for later. It keeps in the fridge for several days. I never froze it, but I suppose it can be done too.





Preparing the pizza peel makes it much easier to slice the pizzas into the oven. I like to use cornmeal between the pizza peel and the parchment paper. I don't really like having the cornmeal directly in contact with the pizza as it is a bit grainy.



The parchment paper goes over the pizza peel and I like to flour it very well. The flour will make it easy to roll the dough and it will also give a nice touch to the finished pizza.




I sometimes roll the dough directly on the parchment paper. The rolling pin is well floured too.



This is how the uncooked pizza looks like.

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Into the oven it goes. Hot, hot oven, 475 degrees.

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Ready to be removed, about 10 minutes later.



The final product!


A close up of the crust, just how I like it. Thin, crisp on the edges and with a nice flour coating.



Thin Crust Pizza Dough Recipe:

makes 2 pizzas, 12 inches each



pizza peel

pizza stone

parchment paper

rolling pin


You will need:

about 400grams of flour,  just shy of 2 cups (see pictures above) Plus more for kneading

1 package of dry active yeast (7 grams)

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

1 tablespoon of olive oil

200ml (7 oz) of warm water.


Whisk all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and the warm water and bring it together with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Transfer dough to the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached and knead for about 4-5 minutes on low speed. Dough will still be quite wet when done, but it will look smooth. (see pictures above).

Transfer dough to a lightly oiled clean bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel. Let it rest for about 1 hour in a dry, warm spot.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees with the pizza stone placed in the middle rack.

Punch down dough with your fist (flour your hands first). Transfer dough to a well floured surface and knead lightly, adding flour as necessary just until it comes together in a ball.

Cut dough in half, wrap excess dough if not using it right away and store in the refrigerator.

Prepare the pizza peel by sprinkling it with cornmeal and some flour.

Cut a piece of parchment paper large enough just to cover the pizza peel. Dust it with lots of flour.

Roll pizza dough on a floured surface or directly on the parchment paper into a 12 inch round.

Top pizza as desired.

Using the pizza peel, slide the parchment paper into the pizza stone. Bake it for about 10 minutes or until dough is browned and topping is cooked.

To remove the pizza from the oven, use a tong to pull the pizza back into the peel. You can bring the parchment paper with it or not, just remember to remove it from the oven.

Slice and serve!




Not Another Omnivore said...

This is a really awesome post! The second kind of tutorial if you will that I've come across today and felt like I absolutely must save on Delicious. Everything looks just fabulous!

Anywho, I figured out our comment problem...I don't know exactly what happened, but the other night this white box never popped up after the words "post a comment". Now it is popping up. That is very good.

And I'm so excited to pass on the blog award! I have some guest posts lined up, but I'm thinking I'll do it on Wed.


Donal said...

Really delicious! Love a thin crust! :)

test it comm said...

Nice looking pizza! I haven't tried making a thin crust pizza yet.

Philomena said...

This looks great! I love a thin crust too, and I think you've inspired me to finally buy a pizza stone.

Hayley said...

I can't wait to try this out! Thanks so much for the step-by-step instructions!

Donna-FFW said...

I love thin crust pizza. I never tried to make my own. Thnks for al your tips.

Rita said...

NAOmni - you deserve the award, enjoy it!

Donal - thanks, I love it too

Kevin - thank you, thin crust is the only way for me...

Philomena - the pizza stone makes a huge difference, it's a good investment

Hayley - you are welcome, dear!

Donna-FFW - it's easier than it looks, try it.

Debora said...

Damm girl,

You are so talented...this pizza has my mouth watering.

I love this blog. Your blog is one of the main reasons I have been dabbing in the kitchen lately. Your pictures are awesome!

Rock on,


Rita said...

Debora, I am soooo glad I got you in the kitchen!!! Enjoy it!

Ricardo Fay said...

Did you mean 400 gr of flour? Because 1 1/2 cups = 225 gr. Make you were thinking in 2 1/2..

Rita said...

Ricardo- sorry for the delay, hope this reaches you. The amount of flour I use is exactly what is pictured on the photo, a 1 1/2 (liquid) measuring cup, filled all the way to the top, as shown. It translates to about 300- 350 grams of flour, then I use some more flour to shape the dough, or if needed during kneading. You will end up using about 400g of flour, but I don't get too stuck with cups or weights measurements for this recipe, in the past I found myself wasting a lot of dough because of bad measurements. Now I just trust my feelings, and this amount always works for me. If you are in doubt, start with less flour and more as needed. A good pizza dough is more on the wet/sticky side rather than dry. Hope it helps!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this recipe! It's now my go-to pizza dough recipe, and I love it. I use half whole wheat flour and half white flour, and use a spoonful honey instead of sugar, and I've always been satisfied with the results. I make it just for myself, so I freeze the rest and pull it out whenever I feel like pizza. It freezes well, too!

Unknown said...

What a lovely, helpful, informative site!
But how about a recipe for that fantastic looking pizza with the greens on top?? Thanks so much.

Rita said...

Hi Sue
Thank YOU!
The pizza on the picture is super simple, just mozzarela, diced tomatoes (I often use fresh diced tomatoes instead of tomato sauce), thinly sliced onions and olives. The greens are fresh basil, sliced that I add to the pizza after it comes out of the oven. Hope it helps!

Anonymous said...

I tried it, but the dough did not brown enough and the toppings were. Any tips?


Rita said...

@ Freddy: if your toppings are getting ready before the dough is cooked, I would suggest the following:
1. Make sure your oven is super hot! I preheat my oven on high, between 450-475 degrees celsius, at least 30 minutes before I put the pizza in.
2. A pizza stone helps a lot, it gets very hot so the dough, once in contact with the stone, bakes faster. If you don't have a pizza stone, you can try to use a heavy roasting pan or cookie sheet, upside down. Heat it in the oven and slide the pizza on it (you can use a rimless cookie sheet fos slidding).
I hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Out of curiousity, why do you cook the pizza on the parchment paper rather than directly on the stone? Does it make a difference? I can see where getting the pizza onto the stone would be easier *much easier* than sliding off of a peel. But does it impact the texture/cooking of the bottom of the pizza?

Rita said...

@ Anonymous - Good question! Sliding the pizza with the paper inderneath is easier than trying to slide the raw pizza dough straight into the hot pizza stone. The stone remains in the oven all the time to preheat, so you need a way to put th edough on it without removing it from the oven. That's when the pizza peel comes handy (you can use a rimless cookie sheet for that as well).
You are right about the texture though. Baking the pizza directly on the stone would make the crust crispier. I read once that the trick is to slide the pizza with the paper, close the oven door and wait about 3 minutes, until the dough firms up. Then you quickly open the oven door and remove the paper from under the pizza (with tongs)so it continues to cook directly on the stone. I never tried this technique, but I thought about it many times. If I do, I'll come back here and let you know!
I hope this answer your question!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rita, it does answer it. It makes sense to go back in and remove the paper, because a lot of the point of the stone is to firm up the bottom and give it a better texture. Once the pizza has cooked for a short while, it would be rigid enough to remove the paper.

I was watching my brother cook his pizza's in a round baking dish (for deep dish pizza's I suppose) and after cooking for about 8 - 10 minutes, he pulled it out, removed it from the dish and put back into the oven (onto his stone) and let it go for another couple of minutes. It worked out pretty well (I think it should have cooked on the stone longer, but that is a matter of preference).


margarita said...

Looks very tasty , i wiil try it!!!!!!!1

Elizabeth said...

I'm 24 and I've never EVER made a pizza or pizza dough--and I just made this (with BBQ bison, bacon and ranch), and it is a HUGE hit!! Thank you so so much for making me look like I know what I'm doing!

Ofiuco said...

I love this recipe, I use it all the time! And I just wanted to let you know - it freezes perfectly fine. Also, I've had great success substituting whole wheat flour and honey instead of sugar. Thanks for this post!

Anonymous said...

Dough is a bit undercooked because even with a pizza stone, 475 just isn't hot enough. You might try brushing the visible edge of the crust with a bit of oil before cooking. It will help the appearance and taste. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to oil the bottom of the pizza. (Maybe use a screen?)

Joedough said...

I think it's a great idea to use parchment paper - although I haven't tried it yet. I really got stuck on using my sourdough starters for the dough and really haven't perfected it yet. I'm looking forward to trying your recipe.
One question: why use cornmeal between the stone and the parchment paper. Shouldn't it slide off well without it? I just hate the mess of cornmeal and the smell when it burns on the bottom of the oven.

Rita said...

@ Joedough: I found that the cornmeal makes it easier for the dough to slide without me having to tip too much the pizza peel. Having said that, however, I recently ran out of cornmeal and have been doing OK without it, but I also have more practice now than I had 3 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, you solved two problems for us: getting a nice crust as the key was the wetter dough, and, getting the pizza onto the stone! I just did not think about the parchment paper hiding in my wrapper drawer!


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