I’ve been wasting so much time getting this pizza dough recipe to your kitchen. I’m happy to report that the wait is over. I don’t know how it feels for the rest of the world when it comes to completing tasks but I usually build them up so much in my head that I want nothing to do with them when the time comes. That’s not to say that this recipe is all hype. It’s been a vehicle for lots of delicious toppings and it’s now ready for its international debut. I thought of keeping the recipe for my future cookbook (which is a dream, by the way) but what the heck. I have had too much anxiety over dying in the last few months. Enough to not wait to share the good things with you.
Speaking of dyingxiety, Pizza Friday is almost here.
If you have any and I mean ANY questions about anything you read here, please AMA (ask me anything). If there’s some lingering doubts about something, I can clear those right up.
Good to know is that with toppings that are likely to release a lot of water while cooking (mushrooms, spinach) are better cooked prior to adding them to the pizza. Ground sausage does well baked uncooked on the pizza. The more delicate greens and fresh herbs will burn so it’s best to add them on after cooking. Same goes with finely grated parmesan.
Makes 2 9″ pizzas
- 225 gms/ 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour OR whole wheat flour OR 00 flour + more to knead
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil + more to coat the bowl and a cooking surface
- 200 ml/ 3/4 cups warm water (between 43-46 deg Celsius/110-115 deg Fahrenheit)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp active dry yeast
Set your workstation up with a clean counter, a large bowl, and your hands. You can also use a spatula instead of your hands. Weigh out the flour into the bowl and add salt to it. Using a whisk (or your fingers), stir the flour until the salt is combined with it. If you’re using you’re fingers, just spend about 15 seconds more mixing the salt in. Add the olive oil to the flour and stir in to combine.
Measure out the water and heat it to no more than 46 degrees C/ 115 degrees F. The easiest way to measure this temperature is with a thermometer but in the absence of one, here’s a handy trick. Stick your finger in the water. If the water feels warm to the touch and you can hold your finger in it for more than 15 seconds without taking it out, it’s ready. If the water is so warm that you can only hold your finger in it for a couple of seconds, it’s too hot. My other trick is to ask myself: Would I use this water to bathe my imaginary baby? If the answer is no, I let the water cool down some more.
Add the sugar to the warm water and then dissolve the yeast into the simple solution. The yeast will start to bubble and foam on the surface of the water. Let it proof for 10-15 minutes before using it. If the yeast does not foam, it has probably gone stale and you’ll need to start over with new yeast. I freeze mine to keep it working well for longer.
Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl of flour and using a rubber spatula or your fingers, pull the flour from the sides of the bowl into the middle and mix until a dough forms. It should be a little sticky, nothing to fear. Dust a working surface with flour and then drop the dough from the bowl onto it. Lightly knead until a smooth dough forms. If it’s too sticky, dust a little more flour as your go.
Oil the same bowl with olive oil and put the dough back into the bowl. Cover it with a damp tea towel and let it rest in a warm spot for 3-4 hours or overnight in the fridge (8-12 hours). Here’s the obvious difference between both “rests”: One require pre-planning (cold rise) and one does not (warm/room temperature rise). Here are the not-so-obvious ones.
Warm/room temperature rise: The gluten doesn’t get as much time to rest. It can be a little trickier to shape the dough into pizza because it will keep bouncing back. The flavour of the bread could be quite flat as well.
Cold rise: The dough definitely benefits a lot more from a rest in the fridge. There is fermentation that occurs giving the resulting pizza bread that sourdough-like taste. The protein (gluten) also relaxes a lot more, making the cooked pizza texture snap oh-so-cleanly as you bite into it. The texture is so beautiful. The other thing I love is the air bubbles that develop in the dough as a result of the slow rise.
Once your dough has risen sufficiently, take the spatula or your flour-dusted palms and pull the dough in from the sides to the centre of the bowl. Dust the counter with flour and turn the dough onto the floured surface. Fold the dough a few times, lightly kneading it to an almost smooth state as you go. If it is too sticky to yield, dust with a little flour at a time. You should be able to press the dough without it leaving behind dough on your finger. Divide the dough into two equal parts and shape each into two balls. Cover with a damp tea towel and let it rest for 30 minutes if it was kept at room temperature earlier (warm rise) and 1-2 hours if it was just pulled from the fridge (cold rise).
Heat the oven to 250 degrees C/ 475 degrees F. Shape the dough into a pizza shape of your choice – in this case, I shaped mine to fit a cast iron skillet. If using a baking sheet, line it with parchment paper. If using a pizza stone or baking steel, pre-heat it according to instructions provided with these tools.
Add the toppings, layering with sauce/olive oil/pesto first, and then cheese/squash blossoms/sliced tomatoes etc. Put the pizza into the oven. Turn the oven temperature down to 230 degrees C/ 450 degrees F and cook for 25 minutes or until the edges of the pizza and the cheese brown. The pizza should also come off the cooking surface very easily once it’s done.
Add the fresh herbs and thinner greens like spinach, arugula etc once the pizza is out of the oven. Let them wilt with the residual heat. Slice and enjoy as soon as possible without burning the roof of your mouth.