Serves 2 to 3
Easy Dough Recipe
When you strip down all the finesse and personality from a pizza dough recipe, you end up with flour, yeast, salt, and water. I add extra virgin olive oil too because I love the flavor it imparts.
Unbleached flour is best for flavor and vitamins
Just your normal small packets of dry yeast work best. Instant is not as good for longer fermented recipes like this one.
Nothing compliments bread and crust like salt. All-purpose flour requires help with the elasticity of the dough that retains the gasses that form the cells (bubbles for rise) called the “gluten net.” Salt strengthens the process.
Olive oil adds a floral flavor to the dough and helps with manageability and emulsification during mixing. It eases the breakdown of the starches and strengthens the gluten net.
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour and more for kneading
3/4 cup warm/tepid water
1/2 teaspoon crushed sea salt
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Mix the flour, salt, and yeast together with dry fingers in a large bowl. Add the water and oil and combine until blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap set in a 70-80 degree environment for 4-12 hours. This is the primary mixing of the dough. Note: The less you let this sit, the more proofing (letting the dough sit and rise in a secondary fermentation) you will need in the next step. For example: if you let this mix go for 4 hours, when you cut and make dough balls out of this, you should let them sit for at least 30 to 45 minutes in a 70 to 80 degree environment.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour on counter top. Remove the dough from the bowl with a scraper or spatula and on counter top, sprinkle flour over the dough. This will help with the stickiness. Divide into 2 parts. Cut the dough in two.
Take one piece of dough in both hands and gently knead the outer edges into the bottom to form a ball. Use your fingers to push dough up and into the center of the ball. You are folding the gluten strands into a cohesive round that will make it easier to form a round pizza. As you gently push more dough under, you will notice the top get firmer, this is a good time to stop. If the ball gets to sticky, roll the ball in flour. Do not over knead.
You should have two 7-ounce dough balls. Place them on an oiled tray and cover with a generous sprinkling of flour and a clean cotton towel for 15 to 45 minutes.
Sprinkle the counter with flour to prevent the dough from sticking.
(1)Use your fingertips to push down in the center of the dough ball, making sure not to go near the outer edge, as this will be your crust. Turn the dough over and do the same on the other side. These actions will make the dough flatten while leaving some air (or cells) to expand while cooking.
(2) Use your hand to form 1/4 to a 1/2-inch crust while pulling away with the other hand.
(3) Pick up the dough and place it vertically in one closed hand (some dough may overhang) and slap it into the other hand. This is easier than it sounds. It helps to stretch the gluten strands and helps to flatten some of the larger cells for a uniform crust. This slap forms the round naturally. Do this 3 to 5 times, rotating for roundness.
(4) Using the back of both hands formed in loose fists, stretch the dough slowly. Feel the dough stretching, turn and continue 3 to 8 times, being careful to not be aggressive. Look at it in the light to see areas that are too thick or thin.
(5) Brush all flour away from your work area and lay the dough on the table to see your work. The dough will have some “bounceback.” These are the gluten strands contracting from the stretch. Let it rest a few minutes and continue with (6) again until you get a 7 to 9-inch round. Do not worry if the dough is not round (if you make a hole, as we all do, pinch it shut).