Week 29: Pizza Dough (II)

On week 17, I decided to make pizza – the kind you can whip up when you just don’t feel like cooking. We called it good enough” pizza because although tasty and easy, it wasn’t what you’d make if you were hankering for something better than delivery. We’ve been home now for 29 weeks (203 days!), with no end in sight. So, it’s time to upgrade, and learn how to make a dough worthy of an artisan style, thin-crust pizza. The trick is, you have to begin this the day before — start on a Thursday, and you’ll be all set for Friday night!

Thin crust pizzas should be baked on the top rack at the hottest temperature setting (but not broil). Recipes for sauces are in the Lagniappe section here.

DAY BEFORE

  • 500 grams (3-3/4 cups) flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  1. Mix the flour, yeast, and salt with a whisk.
  2. Add the water then mix with the handle of a wooden spoon. It’s not going to look like pizza dough, more like a “shaggy mess”. You just want to make sure you incorporate all of the flour into the water, with no dry bits hanging about. A rounded dough scraper helps to scrape the sides.
  3. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel (or plastic wrap) and let iy rise at room temperature for about 18 hours or until it has more than doubled and is bubbly. If it’s colder than 72 degrees, it’ll take longer.

NEXT DAY

  1. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop. Keep it all in one piece, and hold the bowl close to the countertop, so it doesn’t stretch a whole lot.
  2. With the dough scraper (or big knife), divide it into 4 equal parts. This will make four 9~10″ pizzas
  3. See video below for visuals on the following:
    • “Stretch and fold” each dough — this method takes the place of kneading.
    • Shape each portion into a round and flip over, so the seams from the folds are on the bottom. With both hands cupping the sides of the dough, spin it around, so it’s in a nice circle, while making a tucking motion at the bottom to pull the top layer taught.
    • It’s much easier to stretch the dough if you let these rest about an hour. Covered loosely with a barely damp tea towel. But, if not, let them rest at least 15 minutes. If you’re not making all the balls, wrap the others individually and refrigerate for 3 days.
    • Flatten the balls to a disc, press to stretch out, then hold over one fist and pull down the sides. Rotate with both hands, stretching teh sides a bit as you go. Keep doing this until you have a circle about about 9 ~ 10 inches in diameter.

Tips:

  • You can add 1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil to the dough if you’d like more flavor, and/or if you are using bread flour instead of all purpose
  • Thin crust pizzas are best cooked in super hot temperatures, anywhere from 600 – 900 degrees. This helps to char the crust and gives it a great taste. If you don’t have access to a commercial pizza oven, you can use your outdoor grill to get authentic results.
  • Additional flavor boosters could be 1/4 tsp of sugar, and some oregano. But personally, I don’t think it’s neccessary.
  • If it doesn’t hold it’s stretch, just let it rest for awhile and try again
  • Just prior to baking, brush the dough that’s not covered with extra virgin olive oil to help brown it.

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