Homemade Pizza Dough

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homemade pizza doughPizza is a usual occurrence around here. It’s easy and let’s face it, who doesn’t love pizza? There are a ton of different toppings and sauces and ways to make the pizza fun.

In my humble opinion, it is the crust that makes or breaks a pizza. And I have tried a lot of pizza dough recipes. I have an entire cookbook dedicated to pizza crust!

Some people like a really thin crispy crust. Some like a chewy, bready crust. I like both. I want my crust to be crispy on the outside, but chewy on the inside. I like a relatively thin crust, but not cracker thin.  I don’t want to feel like I’m eating a loaf of bread.

This is the my go-to recipe for homemade pizza dough that tastes like take-out or delivery. (Although I do have another that I also use from time to time.) This came from a book from my bread idol, Peter Reinhart, called the The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Seriously this is my Bible of bread making. I’ve added a little honey, just because I’m sweet like that.

Homemade pizza crust

There is one item that, in my opinion, is a must have to make good pizza at home. That is a pizza stone. You can get them for pretty cheap. I got a free one when I bought a store bought lasagna and some salad mix once. The pizza stone allows you to have a crispy crust. Not just a cooked, but sadly soggy crust.

You heat your oven as hot as it will go for a long time (at least an hour) so that the pizza stone can get super toasty and hold onto the heat when you put the pizza onto it. This crisps the crust and the hot air melts the toppings.

I have a pizza peel, but you don’t need one. It just makes things handy. Just slide the pizza on and off of the back of a baking sheet. Parchment paper is wonderful for this purpose. The pizza doesn’t stick and it transfers heat fabulously.

Pizza Dough 4

Do you really need to let the pizza dough rise overnight? Well, no, but it really helps with the flavor. And the color of the crust. And those little bubbles in the crust. Why?

Because enzymes need time to break apart the flour and release sugars. This feeds the yeast and allows us to taste the sugars. It also allows the sugars to caramelize the crust.

When I made this dough, I did a little test. I made a batch of dough the day before and a batch the same day. I cooked both in the same manner. There wasn’t a huge difference in texture. Both were great. But the one I made the same day, it tasted like flour. Bland. The one I made the day before didn’t taste like just flour. It was more complex.

Try it both ways for yourself and decide if it’s really worth it.

Another couple of tips. In order to easily shape dough, it needs to be rested. Resting dough allows the gluten to relax. The gluten is what makes the dough elastic. We want it to be elastic to a certain extent. But if it is too elastic, then it just springs back into its original shape. So let you dough rest before you try to shape it.

How do you know if you dough is the right consistency? The baker’s pane. You should be able, once the dough has completed its first rise, to stretch a small piece of dough so thin that you can see light through it. It looks like this.  If it breaks before you can stretch it thin, than you either have too stiff of a dough, or you haven’t kneaded it enough.

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Now that you have the foundation of pizza, the crust. I can share some pizza recipes, tips, tools and techniques.

Homemade pizza crust

Homemade Pizza Dough

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 24 hours

Yield: 6 personal, 3 medium, 2 large pizzas

Ingredients

  • 20.25 ounces (about 4 1/2 cups) unbleached flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 14 ounces (about 1 3/4 cup) cold water
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Instructions

  1. Stir together the flour, salt and yeast in a stand mixer.
  2. Add the water and oil slowly while mixing with the dough hook. Mix for about 6-8 minutes until the everything is well incorporated. At this point the dough should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl, but still sticking to the bottom of the mixing bowl. If it is still sticking to the sides, add a few tablespoons of flour. It if isn't sticking to the bottom, add 2 tablespoons of water. The dough should be springy and slightly sticky.
  3. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of flour on your counter and turn out the dough. Knead by hand until it is smooth and elastic. Add as little flour as possible. Form it into a tight ball. The ball should droop into more of an egg shape when it sits on the counter. If it keeps it's shape, the dough is probably too stiff.(Return it to the mixing bowl and add 2 tablespoons water and allow to mix until it is combined. Be patient, this takes a little while.)
  4. Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a large bowl. Place the ball of dough into the bowl. Drizzle a bit more olive oil over the dough ball and rub it all over the surface. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.
  5. Refrigerate at least over night or up to 3 days. This will develop the flavor of the crust. You can let it rise on the counter for an hour or two, if you in a crunch for time.
  6. Remove from the refrigerator about 3-4 hours before you are going to use it and let it warm up to room temperature on the counter. Split the dough into however many pizzas you want to make. This recipe makes about 6 personal pizzas, 3 medium or 2 large pizzas. (You can freeze extra dough by shaping it into a ball and putting it in a zip-loc bag with a little olive oil.) You should be able to form a baker's pane with a small piece of dough.
  7. Let the dough rest for about 20 minutes before you try to shape it.
  8. Turn the oven on to 500, or as hot as it will go. Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Let the oven heat for at least an hour.
  9. Shape you pizzas and place on parchment paper or a pizza peel dusted with corn meal or semolina flour. Top with your favorite toppings and slide onto the pizza stone. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned and the cheese is melted. Remove carefully with a pizza peel or slide it onto the back of a sheet pan using spatulas.
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