Sunday, April 24, 2011

Basic Pizza Dough

I usually buy frozen pizza dough from my local market but the flavor can be a little bland. When this post popped up on my reader I knew I had to give it a try. I followed the tips and tricks from this post on Annie’s Eats and the results were amazing. No more store bought pizza dough for us!

Basic Pizza Dough
recipe courtesy of Annie's Eats originally adapted by Brown Eyed Baker from Baking Illustrated 

½ cup warm water (about 110°F)
1 envelope (2 ¼ teaspoons) instant yeast
1 ¼ cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
22 ounces (4 cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 ½ teaspoon salt
olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room temperature water and oil and stir to combine.  

Measure your flour by weight.

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. 

Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. 

Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.

If you don’t plan on using your dough immediately, freeze it. After dividing the dough into two equal portions, wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and store inside a freezer-safe bag, and transfer to the freezer immediately.  The double layer is important here. Even after the dough is moved to the freezer, it will continue to rise a bit before the rise is completely suspended. It always, always pops through the plastic wrap so the extra layer of protection is needed to prevent exposure. Freeze the dough until it is ready to be used.

The day you plan to use the dough, transfer it to the refrigerator in the morning to thaw in time for dinner that evening. (If using the dough for lunch, transfer to the refrigerator the night before.) Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to take off the chill. Place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 500°F for at least 30 minutes.  

After the dough has been at room temperature for 30 minutes, it is ready for shaping. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other covered, shape the dough with lightly floured hands and transfer to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal. If the dough springs back a lot while you are trying to shape it, let it rest for 15 minutes and try again. This allows the gluten in the dough to relax and should make shaping easier. Sometimes the dough requires multiple resting periods for gluten relaxation, other times it shapes perfectly right off the bat.

Top as desired and brush the outside edge of the crust lightly with olive oil. Slide the dough onto the pizza stone. Bake until the crust edges brown and cheese is golden brown in spots, about 8 to 12 minutes. Repeat with remaining ball of dough.

Makes enough dough for 2 large pizzas