The canonical pizza dough recipe of 2013

Autumn of 2012 marks the beginning of third year of my obsession with making pizzas. Eternal search for the unattainable perfection. I think I’m getting better. Especially more consistent. And if anything, consistency is important in becoming better. This search has, of course, resulted in me designing a whole new type of wood-fired pizza oven called Uuni. If you’re interested, have a look at the video here.

Much of the early parts of this year I spent experimenting with different water to flour ratios, amount of yeast, carrying over parts of previous dough, proofing times etc. Summer was a write-off pizza wise as we moved house and I was without an oven for a few months but now I’m back at it and I’m ready to tell you where I’m at.

Here’s the base recipe as far as ingredients go:

Pizza dough recipe – Crofton Kitchen 2012

Ingredients

  • 500 g type ’00’ flour
  • 320 ml water
  • 30 g soft brown sugar
  • 10 g dry yeast
  • 10 g salt
  • 20 ml olive oil

Flour

Main ingredient of course is the flour. Not much has changed with that. I always use 500 grams as that creates a good reference point for other ingredients. I normally use the Sainsbury’s Type ’00’ with Durum but this mostly due to my laziness towards looking out for other more exotic brands of type ’00’.

Water

I’ve been back and forward with how much water to use. Mainly experimenting with adding up to 350 ml per 500 grams of flour. Although the added extra quantity is minimal, 30 ml, it makes a massive difference in the result: lighter to work with, hard to knead and risky when trying to slide a topped pizza of the peel to the oven. No, I’m sticking with 320 ml.

Thing I’m changing with water is where it comes from. I think London has a pretty nice tasting water. It’s OK to drink but it’s really really heavy. As in, lime heavy. In comes bottled water. Normally Highland Spring or other suitably well know Scottish brand. I haven’t blind tested pizzas made with London water and bottles water but i’m quite certain that there’s a noticeable difference.

Yeast

I always us Allison’s Dry Yeast. It comes in a 125 gram tin which then lasts for a good while. Can you get fresh yeast in supermarkets in Britain? That’ll be something for testing next year.

Another thing I’ve been testing over the past year is a sort of a sour dough method. I’d leave 1/5 of the dough to in the fridge for a good 4-5 days and then use that as a starter for the next dough which would be made without any other leavening agent. I can’t really proof the benefits of this yet but there’s something nice about the generations it creates.

Method

  1. I usually start by boiling about 100 ml of the water and adding that to rest of the water. That way it ends up at around 40°C. Then I’ll whisk in the yeast followed by sugar and oil. I’ll leave it for about half an hour so the yeast can get started.
  2. Meanwhile I’ll prepare the flour by sifting it into a bowl along with the salt.
  3. Add water/yeast, mix until ready turn on lightly floured surface for kneading. Knead for 5 minutes, leave it to rest for 10 minutes and knead a further 3 minutes. (I used to do this with a 1970s Kenwood Chef mixer but I haven’t replaced it since one of the gears broke last summer.)
  4. Place the dough in a container big enough so it can at least triple in size, seal with cling film. Refrigerate for 48 hours.
  5. Take the bowl out of the fridge about two hours before baking is meant to begin and leave it to acclimatise and warm up for about an hour and a half with the cling film still on. Cut into 180 gram dough balls and pat into roughly 10 cm diameter disks. Leave the dough disks to wait until you’re ready to make the pizzas.
  6. By the time you start ‘rolling’ the pizzas, the dough should have started to rise just a little. It’s important to not let it rise too much. Knock the dough back and leave it for another few minutes. I find that the dough is stretchier after it’s rested a little.

Preparation time: 60 minute(s)

Cooking time: 24-48 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 5

I’m pretty sure above is just about everything I know about making the dough. Hope it’s helpful. I’ve got two more posts coming up about pizza, one on rolling or stretching the dough out to a pizza shape and another on my current sauce. Stay tuned!

Thick Pizza Sauce

As most thing we do, my pizza sauce is going through a perpetual rebirth. 2011 draws to a close and this is now my favourite. This recipe makes for about 3-5 pizzas, depending on how long you let it simmer and how much you use. Worry not if you make too much, it makes a perfect pasta sauce the next day.

Pizza Sauce version: #6 // Dec 2011

Ingredients

  • Clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Tin of plum tomatoes (400 g)
  • 30 g tomato pure
  • Olive oil
  • Chilli flakes
  • About 10 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method

  1. Fry the garlic in the oil for a few minutes on medium heat
  2. Mean while, pour the plum tomatoes in to bowl and properly crush them with your fingers
  3. Add chilli in with the garlic and then the tomatoes
  4. Mix well, add tomato pure and mix again
  5. Add sugar in small increments, tasting each time to make sure it doesn’t go too sweet
  6. Season
  7. Throw in your chopped up basil leaves and let it simmer till excess water has evaporated

Preparation time: 1 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minutes(s)

Number of servings (yield): 3-5

Pizza Night at Rönkkös

Here’s some photos from our pizza night next door at our family/friends place next door (well, next door once you’ve traveled to my home in Finland). I got to try making pizzas in a traditional Finnish ‘leivinuuni’, a type of bread oven. How was it? Well, I’ve called off all my meetings/work next week and we’ll be building one!

UPDATE: I actually have spent a large portion of last year designing a new type of wood fired oven called Uuni

Relatively Quick and Easy Pizza Sauce

Following on from my dough recipe last week, it’s time to spread some sauce on our pizza.

Relatively Quick and Easy Pizza Sauce

The sauce is a balancing act between sweet, salt, heat and, of course, quality of the tomatoes. It might take a bit of experimenting and trying out but as long as you don’t boil it for too long and are careful with seasoning, you’ll be fine.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • clove of garlic
  • 2 tins of good quality plum tomatoes
  • 140 g tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp chillie flakes
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauce pan, add roughly chopped garlic and onion.
  2. Fry for 3 minutes or until they start changing colour a little.
  3. Add sugar and stir until the onions start caramelising, minute or two at longest.
  4. Pour in your tinned tomatoes and stir so the tomatoes break up. (Get the best plum tomatoes your money can by. Napolitana are available in most places and are pretty good.)
  5. Mix in tomato purée.
  6. Add seasoning, chillie flakes and basil, simmer for 6-8 minutes.
  7. Blend very well with a hand blender

 

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Enough for about 8-10 pizzas.8

Near Perfect Pizza Dough

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.

Pizza Dough

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

  1. Mix salt into the flour in a large mixing bowl
  2. Mix water, yeast, sugar and 2/3 of oil together in another bowl
  3. 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
  4. If you’re using a kitchen mixer such as a Kenwood Chef, mix the dough on low speed for 10 minutes.
  5. While the doing is being mixed, add remaining oil to keep dough from sticking too much.
  6. 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.
  7. (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

Proving

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!