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Basic Pizza Dough

Daring Bakers

The October 2008 Daring Bakers Challenge is brought to us by Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums

Recipe source: “The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread” by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

To download the recipe in .pdf format, click HERE

Yield: 6 pizza crusts, about 9 - 12" / 23 - 30cm in diameter.
Preparation time: about 1 hour of active time over two days

Ingredients

4 1/2 cups / 20 1/4 ounces / 610g unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup / 2 fl oz / 60g olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 cups / 14 fl oz / 420g or 420ml water, ice cold (40°F / 4.5°C)
1 Tbsp sugar
semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

Day one

1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

Note: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.

The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50 - 55°F/ 10 - 13°C.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a rimmed baking pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

Note: To avoid the dough sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper in to water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

Note: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined baking pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into a large plastic bag or cover in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

Note: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil (a few tablespoons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.

Day two

8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2" / 1.5cm thick and 5" / 12.5 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500°F / 260°C Gas Mark 10.

Note: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a baking pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a baking pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

Note: Make only one pizza at a time.

During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and re- flour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.

In case you are having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully, then try again.

You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9 - 12" / 23 - 30cm in diameter - for a 6 oz / 180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the baking pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

Note: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the baking pan. Close the door and bake for about 5 - 8 minutes.

Note: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.
If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or baking pan to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese browns, then you will need to raise the stone or pan.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3 - 5 minutes before slicing or serving.

Rosas Yummy Yums
The Bread Baker's Apprentice
Peter Reinhart