pizza

How to make a perfect Italian pizza dough

This is an how-to, long, long overdue, post. In case you need this dough for anything other than pizza, come back here and check. I also put the tag “dough” in the list, in case it’s going to be buried by the next posts.

Pizza dough represents the base for what it’s the modern concept of pizza, sold worldwide, in thousands of different variations of crust, topping, size, price and so on. It’s the base over which you can express your creativity in toppings. Though, is fun to notice that pizza is only one of the possible “outcomes”. For example, you could use this recipe to bake your own bread, if you want.

Making a dough do not follow a strict list of rules. In fact, any variations of the quantity of ingredients will still give you a dough. It can be personalized and adjusted according to allergies, taste, kind of flours, gluten tolerance, and availability of ingredients. As in bread, there can be many variation and flavours.The taste of the dough will influence the taste of the final product you are going to bake.

“…this dough reflects my regional, working, and family tradition in pizza making. As you may probably know if you had a look at my about page, I can claim a bit of expertise in making it. The pizza recipe is argument for another post…”

Time required: from 2 to 24 hours

Ingredients for 1 kg flour:
Pizza dough is the kind of product of which the portion are difficult to guess, and varies across country. To make it easier, I use kilograms of flour as a measure unit for the final outcome, and a bit of trial and error expertise: 1 kg will probably give you enough dough for 6/7 reasonably sized pizzas (1 pizza enough to feed 1 reasonably hungry person).

1 kg white flour (choose what you think is good for you and try it out for yourself)
3 sp of iodized salt
3 sp of extravirgin olive oil
3 sp of sugar
1 cube of fresh yeast OR 20 g of dry yeast
lukewarm water QS (quantum sufficiat) – start with the less the better

Preparation (about half an hour):
This preparation resemble the one used to bake bread. If you have bread-making experience, you are pretty much covered. If you have an electric machine, a robot, or someone else doing it for you, it’s just a matter of attention in mixing the ingredients together.

Start with 2 breakfast bowls and a clean, large, table area. Fill the bowls halfway with lukewarm water. In one you will put the salt, in the other one the sugar. Use different spoon to mix them. Put the yeast in the sugar bowls and stir it thoroughly until it dissolves completely in the water.Put the flour on the table, the whole kilo. It will look like a mountain of flour 🙂
Do not flat it, rather place your palm over the top and push it straight downwards, while enlarging it the more you reach the surface of the table. Now looks like a volcano of flour 😀
Make the crater large enough, and keep the “walls” high. This will help you in kneading the dough.

Empty the yeast/sugar bowls in the crater and start working the flour with it. It’s important that you don’t flood the flour, the yeasty water should not be enough for the whole kilo. It will look like a brown crater lake in a dormant volcano! The high walls are there for a reason: they keep the water from running around. Use the flour on the internal side of the walls and let them slide in the lake. This will keep the rest of the walls safe. Make a dough ball out of it, as good as you can it doesn’t matter now, and put it aside.

Rebuild the flour volcano as before, and empty the salt bowl in the crater. Work it until you are able to make another ball out of it. Only after this, you can mix the 2 balls together. The point of this 2-steps procedure is: do not let the yeast touch the salt prior than the flour does. The rising reaction induced by the yeast will stop if in direct contact with salt. The 2 bowls system is an easy and clean way to dose water levels and avoid this unwanted event at the same time.

Possibly, the water you have added so far is still not enough. This will give you enough leeway to add the extra lukewarm water you need to make the dough consistent enough so “it doesn’t stick anymore to your hands”. If the water is too much, add a bit more flour. The dough will have a plastic feeling and it will not stick anywhere anymore. You can in fact use it to collect all the flour leftover from the working area.

Now, spread it a bit on the table and poke it with your finger. The holes in it are for the oil. Spoon it on the dough and keep on kneading, until it nicely incorporates in it. Done for now!

Place it in a large container or pot and put on a lid, plastic foil, or a cloth to cover it. Let it rise for 1 hour. After that, cut the mass in pieces and start making dough balls out of it the size of a baseball ball (a bit bigger than a tennis or cricket ball). You should have enough dough for 6 or 7 of them. Place the ball in a tray and give them enough space to rise double or triple their actual size. Let them rise for another hour before using them, or place the tray in the fridge and use the dough the next day.

If you use (parts of) this method, please send me pictures of your dough, or put a link in the comments. The better ones could be showed here 😀

Thanks Ginny for the pic