Pizza Dough, Revisited
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a Friday Night Pizza on the blog, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been eating them (5 years and going strong!) I’m planning to resurrect the series now that the growing season is beginning again (nothing like a few new vegetables at the market to stir up a little inspiration!), and the first thing I thought I’d share with you is my new, improved pizza dough recipe.
The previous dough I was using, while very good, sometimes seemed to make a pizza that was a little on the small side for the two of us. Trying to make it bigger, I tried rolling it out more thinly a few times, but that resulted in a pizza that was too thin to support more than a sparse sprinkling of toppings, and a bit too crispy/crackery for my liking. So I’ve been tweaking flour and water ratios, armed with the knowledge I learned from Michael Ruhlman’s new book, Ratio (which is excellent. You should pick up a copy!) Ruhlman gives his basic bread dough recipe in the book — 5 parts flour to 3 parts water (plus yeast and salt) — and recently mentioned it in relation to making homemade pizza on his blog (doesn’t his breakfast pizza look delicious? Eggs on pizza are quite tasty, to this I can attest.) I started with his 5:3 ratio and found that while I really liked the amount of dough it made, as well as the nicely crispy crust it produces, I missed a little of the chewiness that the previous dough recipe I was using had. Comparing the formulas for each, I found that the previous dough I’d been using had a ratio of flour to water of closer to 5:4 (and used less flour per pizza to begin with). I liked the measure of flour used in Ruhlman’s 5:3 ratio, and knew that increasing the proportion of liquid in the dough just a bit would give the slightly chewier, more custardy interior that I was going for. The dough is a bit sticker initially, but smooths into a supple ball after kneading and rolls out very easily, with no resting required between “stretches.”
The ratio I arrived at is closer to 5:3.5 rather than 5:3, and we adore it. B has proclaimed them to be the best pizzas I’ve made so far! We get a roughly 14-inch pie with this formula, with a thick-enough but not-so-thick-as-to-be-bread crust. It’s crispy on the outside (particularly if you can use a baking stone, which I highly recommend if you make pizzas or bread often), chewy on the inside and makes enough for 2-3 people.
We had some friends over last weekend, and feasted on two different pies — one with sausage, caramelized fennel, and thinly sliced red onion; the other with asparagus, spinach pesto, mushrooms, fresh mozzarella and local goat cheese. I can honestly say I think they were two of the tastiest pies to make an appearance in our house, ever!
Previous Eggs on Sunday pizza combinations:
Asparagus, Fava Bean & Chive Pizza
Asparagus, Ricotta & Salami Pizza
Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza
Bacon, Egg and Spinach Pesto Pizza
BBQ Bacon Cheddar Pizza
Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese and Thyme Pizza
Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Gruyere Pizza
Fig, Goat Cheese, Prosciutto & Arugula Pizza
Green Garlic Monster Pizza
Pizza with Mushrooms, Asiago, Roasted Garlic & Thyme
Pesto & Potato Pizza
Sausage & Rapini Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Fontina and Ricotta
Sausage, Red Onion & Crimini Mushrooms
Southwestern Black Bean & Vegetable
Spinach and Artichoke Pizza
Spinach and Feta Pizza
Amy’s Pizza Dough
The recipe below makes enough for one 14-inch pizza. You can easily double it and freeze the other half after the dough rises; freeze in a ziptop bag and then thaw it in the refrigerator or at room temperature the day you plan to use it (make sure to let it come up to room temperature before you roll it out and bake it — cold dough won’t cut it!)
10 ounces bread flour (AP flour works fine, too) — I prefer to measure by weight, but if you don’t have a scale, figure that 4.5 ounces of bread flour roughly equals 1 cup — so 10 ounces is roughly 2 1/4 cups. You’ll want to adjust the flour in the dough so it’s tacky, but not sticky.
7 ounces warm water (90-110 degrees F, but I don’t usually measure – just can’t be hot)
a drizzle of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Mix the flour, yeast and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the warm water and olive oil, and mix until the dough comes together (it will be shaggy and there may still be some dry bits of flour on the bottom of the bowl.) Turn the whole thing out onto a lightly floured surface — I use my kitchen work table — and knead until the dough smooths out and passes the windowpane test*, about 6-8 minutes, adding more flour as needed to keep it from being too sticky. The resulting dough will be tacky but not super sticky.
[*Windowpane test: pull off a small piece of dough, and gently stretch it in all directions until the middle is paper thin. When you've kneaded the dough enough to develop the gluten sufficiently, the middle should be able to be stretched thin (and be translucent, like a windowpane) without tearing. If it tears easily, keep kneading a few minutes more.]
Place the kneaded dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn a few times to coat with oil. Cover with a dishtowel and let it rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours. Since we keep our house cool, I place my bowl on an electric heating pad to keep the temperature around the bowl warm and encourage rising.
After it’s risen 2 hours, remove from the bowl and gently flatten the dough. If you are going to freeze it, transfer it to a ziptop bag now. Otherwise, stretch it into a pizza round (I do this directly on my pizza peel, after I’ve generously dusted it with flour or coarse cornmeal.) Top your pizza as desired, and bake it in a 500 degree F oven until the crust is starting to turn golden brown, about 8 minutes.
Makes enough dough for one 14-inch pizza; can easily be doubled.