Utility Pizza Dough
This is one of my go to recipes that I use for many different creations. I will often refer to this recipe in others posts (hopefully with a link) so that it will be easy to follow. I have dough in my fridge and it will last for several days.
Special tools: Stand mixer if you have one. Can be done by hand but it will take longer.
Time to mix dough: 10 minutes.
Total time: 2 hours if for use the same day.
- 3 cups high gluten flour, bread flour, or 00 flour.
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp yeast instant active dry yeast or 1 oz fresh yeast
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbs sugar or honey
- 1 tbsp dry white wine
- 1 1/3 cups warm water
I can't always tell the difference by look, but the feel of the 00 flour (on the left) is noticeable.
Flour is the big discussion these days, especially with the prevalence of wood fired ovens in the industry. All purpose, bread, high gluten, 00, pastry. And then there are the flours milled from different wheat or parts of the grain.
Yes, you should always sift your flour. The common reason is for lumps, but frankly, you should be looking for bugs as well.
Wheat flour gives you a little healthier dough, but can be difficult to work with. Semolina flour, mainly in pastas, can give a courser texture to your dough. Double Zero (00) flour gives your dough a smooth and soft feel, and I prefer this for my pizza dough. It can be difficult to find in smaller packages and is more expensive, but it's worth the "dough". The list goes on and on. The discussions on the topic seem endless, and so do the opinions. Trial and error, in my opinion, is going to be your best tool, but I will give you a few guidelines.
Higher protein content usually gives better results for bread and pizza dough. That means high gluten flour, or bread flour. 00 flour is milled much finer and takes less water that courser milled grains. That should be enough to get you started, and from there, take notes on your results.
Active dry yeast (left) and Fresh yeast (right)
The second factor is yeast. Should you use only a starter - a sponge that has no added yeast other than the natural form developed over time? Or how about the granulated stuff at most supermarkets? Another option is fresh yeast. Fresh yeast comes in blocks ranging from 1 lb. blocks to 1 oz units in grocery stores. Those 1 lb. units will cost you under $2.00 and will give you at least twenty loafs of bread, so unless you are willing to bake plenty, you might have to be comfortable with a little waste when it goes bad.
I know restaurants that use the same granular yeast you find in the grocery store, but I have always preferred fresh yeast for my baking. You will get used to the shelf life and the indicators if you use it often enough. The benefit is that you never have to bloom the yeast and you can add it directly to your dry ingredients (and often to the wet, if you like). I like the control I get with fresh yeast.
Oil, flour, honey, salt
The third factor (especially for breads) is to trust your feel. There are many variables to getting the right dough, and you may need to alter your recipe based on those variables. Temperature, humidity, flour density, water in your region, etc. So take notes, and learn the "feel".
For fresh or instant active dry yeast.: In a mixing bowl, add all dry ingredients (flour, salt, yeast) and mix thoroughly. Next add the oil and white wine and mix. Finally, add the water until the dough forms a ball and is soft to the touch but dry.
For dry yeast: Place yeast in 1/4 cup warm water to bloom for 5 minutes. You will see the yeast start to bubble a bit - that's when you know it's ready. While waiting, place all your dry ingredients the mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Add oil and wine, mix again. Next add the yeast and water mixture. Give the mixer a few turns and then start adding the additional water.
You will need to get the dough to a smooth and soft consistency, without being tacky. The mistake made most often is that you won't let the mix long enough and/or you will think you have added enough water. Soft but not tacky. I repeat that because it is that important.
Still a little lumpy, keep kneading!
Light pressure will create an indentation. Soft.
Ready to rise.
Risen and ready.
The finger test. If the space doesn't fill in after you poke a finger in the dough, it's ready.
A small piece for a personal size thin crust pizza.
If you want to use the dough the following day, after the first rise, place the dough in large zip lock bag in the fridge and let retard for up to three days. Be sure to leave room in the bad for the dough to continue rising. In addition you may want to open the bag daily and let out any excess gas from the rising process.
Finished pie with caramelized onion, mushrooms, and goat cheese.
You can even use this dough on the grill!!!
Grilled pizza with onions, mushrooms, goat cheese.