Learn how to make perfect pizzas at home using this simple yet effective recipe for homemade pizza dough. Also learn about the various styles of pizza dough.
Is ordering pizza from your favorite Pizzeria a frequent ritual in your household? Do you always cringe at the manner in which your kids spurn good home cooked food in favor of restaurant bought Pizza? Are you convinced that making pizzas at home is a culinary process that is daunting, cumbersome, tedious and not always successful? Well, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Making pizzas at home does take time but the process is rather easy and gives out consistent results once you are acquainted with the recipe and have obtained the right pizza making tools from Californo. Moreover, if you have a particular affinity for the meandering flavors of Italian food, it would be very well worth the effort to make your pizzas from scratch. Anyone who makes fresh pizza at home is well aware of the fact that it bears absolutely no semblance to the dry and almost bland pizza base that you buy in the supermarket. Though using pre-made pizza dough is not much of a culinary aberration, you owe it to the gastronomic enthusiast in you to make the best and freshest pizza. Furthermore, once you have got the hang of making pizza at home, you will probably never revert back to store bought pizza dough.
What is the perfect pizza dough recipe?
Have you ever seen chefs on television swirling and twisting the pizza dough in the air with an adeptness that baffles you? Do such shows reinforce your belief that it is rather impossible to perfect a pizza dough recipe at home? Well, here is what you can do to make the perfect pizza dough yourself. All it takes is an intuitive mind and the right pizza making tools.
- Ingredients required
Make sure that the ingredients which you use in the pizza dough recipe are of the best quality. This is crucial in ensuring the superior taste and appearance of the finished dish. The flour used in the recipe should preferably be strong white flour. Though plain flour can also be used in case you are unable to get hold of strong white flour, it does not give out results that are as desirable. This is because of the fact that strong white flour boasts of a high gluten content thus contributing to the elasticity that is associated with pizza dough. The gluten in the flour makes the pizza dough extremely pliable yet full-bodied in flavor. For the pizza dough recipe you will need,
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast or 1Oz brewer’s yeast
- 1 1/2 cup warm water
- 500 gms strong white flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Method of preparation
Take a small glass bowl and sprinkle the dry or brewer’s yeast into the warm water. Give it a stir to dissolve the yeast. Set this concoction aside for about 5 minutes or until the yeast forms tiny bubbles. Sift the strong white flour and place it on the countertop or whichever work surface you prefer.
Make a mound with the flour and scoop a hole in the center. Pour in the yeast mixture, olive oil and the pinch of salt in the center of the flour mound. Use a plastic or wooden spatula to bring the ingredients together. Then use your hands to mix it into a dough like consistency. Sprinkle some flour on the work surface and put the pizza dough on it. Proceed to knead and push the pizza dough with your palms until it is lithe and elastic in texture.
Take a large bowl and grease it with some olive oil. Transfer the prepared pizza dough to this bowl. The oil will prevent the pizza dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl when it eventually rises. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and place it in a warm place that will facilitate the rising of the dough. Though it usually takes an hour or two for the dough to rise, the pace is actually influenced by the strength of the yeast and the warmth of the room. A great tip to employ when implementing the pizza dough recipe is to make two small incisions on top of the dough and lightly dab it with olive oil. This will prevent the surface of the dough from breaking too much when it rises.
When the pizza dough has virtually doubled in size, poke it with a finger. In case the dough does not shrink and the impression of your finger remains, allow the dough to rise for some more time. However, if the dough sinks on itself when you poke a finger, it has risen suitably. Now, clench your fist and punch out the air from the pizza dough.
Flour the work surface and plop the pizza dough onto it. Cut the dough into three equal parts. Consider if you would like to assemble the pizza on a pizza peel or on the work surface itself. It is more prudent to arrange the pizza on a pizza peel since it will be easier to slide it into the hot oven.
At this point, you can use a rolling pin to roll out the pizza dough to the thickness that you prefer. Make sure that you roll the dough from the center outwards so as to obtain an even thickness. Now spread the tomato sauce, pesto or white sauce and the toppings. Be sure not to go overboard with the toppings. This does not encourage an even cooking process and will moreover create a conflict in the flavors. Sprinkle the cheese of your choice and slide the assembled pizza into a prepared pizza oven – using a proper pizza oven is crucial for a good result. Ensure that the pizza pan is lightly greased with olive oil. This will prevent the pizza from sticking to the pan and will also impart a delightfully crunchy texture to the crust.
Bake until the pizza is thoroughly cooked and the cheese is bubbly, melted and slightly brown on top. For checking if the pizza is done, lift the crust. The bottom should be slightly brown. Keep in mind that a thicker crust takes a considerably longer time to cook than a relatively thinner crust.
Any remainder of the pizza dough can be frozen in the freezer for later use. To thaw frozen pizza dough, let it remain at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Now you can proceed with the pizza making process.
What are the different styles of pizza dough?
The shape, size and nature of the pizza you make are largely influenced by the number of people you are catering to and also your culinary inclinations. Though it is the thickness of the crust that is always the point of contention, sometimes you can deviate from the conventional to make a rectangular or square shaped pizza. The Sorrento region in Italy is renowned for the native pizzas that are rectangular in shape. There are usually two classifications for the pizza dough.
- The classic Neapolitan
The Neapolitan style of making pizza favors a crust that is thick and has a rim. The pizza dough for this style of pizza should ideally be spread to about a thickness of 3mm. The edges of the crust should be slightly thicker so that they rein in the toppings in the center of the pizza.
- Classic Roman style
This style of pizza is devoid of a rim on the crust. This is due to the fact that the toppings are more thick and gooey and thus will certainly not slide off the pizza. The crust in the roman style pizza hinges on the thinner side.