Every pizza has to start with the dough. No dough, no pizza. Obviously.
I started making pizzas about year and a bit ago. With ‘started’, I mean that before that I’d only make them occasionally, couple of times a year. It turns out that there’s a lot to it if you’re critical of what you’re doing and aim to make better pizzas than 95 % of pizzerias offer.
Back home, in Finland, a home made pizza used to consist of flattened bread dough with ketchup working as the sauce and fried mince, tinned pineapple, tomatoes and mild edam as toppings. That’s how my grandma used to make them. Today, I think people also have some olives on top.
I know that’s a bit harsh and that’s not everybody’s experience of home pizzas but I think that experience is what made me try harder. Try to make pizzas that actually kick ass and you would hesitate ordering another pizza in a restaurant as you know that you can make better ones at home. It’s a bit like with steaks. Most restaurant steaks are pretty average as it’s not hard to learn how to grill ‘the perfect steak’.
This is why we’re starting Month of Pizza with the dough. With a bit of trial and error, anyone can make a kick-ass pizza dough that’ll rival anything you can whack ten quid on in a restaurant.
- 500 g of Type ’00’ flour – available in most supermarkets. Use strong bread flour if not available
- 300 ml luke warm water
- 8 g dry yeast
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 25 g (2 tbsp) caster sugar
- 10 g (2 tsp) salt
- Mix salt into the flour in a large mixing bowl
- Mix water, yeast, sugar and 2/3 of oil together in another bowl
- Make a well in the middle of the flour, pour water in that and let it sit for 10-20 minutes until the yeast start working
- If you’re using a kitchen mixer such as a Kenwood Chef, mix the dough on low speed for 10 minutes.
- While the doing is being mixed, add remaining oil to keep dough from sticking too much.
- If you’re hand kneeding, mix the dough by hand in the bowl and pour on your kitchen surface. You should kneed the dough for about 15 minutes and no less to ensure right kind of consistency. There’s plenty of good videos on YouTube to show you how.
(personally, I really like my 1970s Kenwood Chef I got of off eBay.)
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 1 hour(s)
Number of servings (yield): 3-6
If there’s two important stages to making dough, first is kneeding, second is proving. When the dough is rising, yeast eats and burns sugars from the flour to alcohol and carbon dioxide. The CO2 expands the dough and stretches the gluten, thus making it stronger.
There’s two proving methods I use. First one is quick, just leave it in a mixing bowl and let it rise , covered with cling film or towel, for an hour or until it’s doubled in size.
Cold proving pizza dough
The second is to divide the dough into smaller portions, about four or five, place them into containers with enough room to grow and put them in the fridge. This is called cold proving. I’m not sure of the science and and mechanics of it but it seems like the slow pace the fought tales to rise, it adds to the texture and flavour of the final product. You’ll need to leave it in the fridge for at least 12-24 hours. Many pizzerias that use this method leave the dough to cold proof for up 36-48 hours.
Yes, it’s a lot slow process but results are worth it.
If kneading and rising is done properly, you’ll end up with a dough that can be stretched till it resembles graphene in its thinness. (Your mileage may and will vary.)
Once the dough’s been proven, you need to knock it back. In other words, drop it back on the surface and gently kneed it until most of the air bubbles are gone.
Now it’s ready for rolling, pushing, tossing and stretching into the best pizzas you’ve ever made. These days, I use this amount of dough to make four pizzas but it’s possible to carefully roll up to 8 very very thin pizzas out of this. Once rolled to size, you can leave the base to rest for 10-15 minutes until adding toppings and baking.
If you do end up using this method, please leave a comment and perhaps even a photo on our Facebook page or below!