Easy Dough Recipe

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

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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(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.

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(2) Use your hand to form 1/4 to a 1/2-inch crust while pulling away with the other hand.

 

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(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.

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(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.

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(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).

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6 Responses to “Easy Dough Recipe”

  1. Andre Reis says:

    Dear John, shouldn’t the amount of flour be 2 1/2 and not 1 1/2? I could never do dough with a 2:1 ratio of flour to water, I’m thinking it’s probably a typo. Cheers

  2. John says:

    Hi Andre’
    Great point. I just had this conversation with my friend Tony Gemignani who just opened Tony’s Napolitana in San Fran. It’s always good to have alot of hydration in your dough when using the long proofing (or “proving” as the Italians say) method of over 8 hours. This is brought to extremes when I do my ciabatta dough. (whatta pain!) but it works great.

    It works like this;
    Soft dough needs +water+high temperature+time
    Compact dough -water-high temperature-time

    It’s mighty sticky and may seem unbearably tedius but here in Athens, we have hard water. This water stiffens the gluten strands and slows the leavening- the calcium ions and magnesium increase the bonds of the gluten proteins while the mineral salts prohibit the yeast activity.

    If you mix it with the high hydration, the fermentation and thus the digestability of the dough will be far better. You can always stiffen it up after pulling it out of the bowl during your first knead. If you wish to add more flour, the time for the initial ferment can be shorter and you can cook at a lesser temperature-it’s just that the dough will not be as flavorful or digestable.

    Oops, I just reread this novel- aren’t you sorry you asked! Yuk Yuk Thanks for the comment
    John

  3. Andre Reis says:

    That was great info actually, many thanks. I’ll have to give it a try, especially because I do pizzas in a home oven 90% of the time (my wood oven is gigantic and way too big just to make one or two pizzas, so I only fire it up for special events). Home ovens tend to dry the dough out, so I’m experimenting with much higher hydration.

    I know you’re not in the business of home pizza cooking, but I found an interesting technique for baking pizzas at home in this blog:
    http://shapeof.com/archives/2009/12/zero_to_pizza_in_80_seconds.html

    The guy basically superheats his pizza stone and cooks the thing in less than a minute and a half. Thought you’d like to have a look! Cheers

  4. John says:

    Awesome Andre,

    I heard about another guy who actually shows you how to take the “governor” off of you oven so you can heat it up to 900 degrees. He’s another pizza psycho and has almost burnt down his house numerous times. so cool.

    I just got back from Miami where a friend runs a coal-fired pizza (700 degrees) restaurant. I’ll have some vids of that soon.

    thanks again
    j goon

  5. Mike says:

    John,

    Thanks for the inspiration! I’m thinking of doing a pizza party this weekend since it is a long one and would like to try this recipe. Would you recommend preparing the dough ahead of time and freezing the dough balls so that they could be used later?

    Thanks

  6. John says:

    hey mike,

    Yea, just make sure the dough stays at room temp and starts to rise before using. (or) just come on in and get some small dough from us. (tell em John said it was ok.)

    thanks Mike

    john

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