Over recent months my occasional pizza feast has become twice weekly. That’s because since switching to a pretty much vegetarian diet I’ve come to really appreciate that pizza is one of those treats that doesn’t need meat. Give me plenty of cheese and toppings like olives, artichokes, mushrooms and eggplant and I’ll choose pizza over a meaty meal any day.
Don’t worry, I’m not trying to convince you here to ditch the salami or prosciutto from your pizzas. Instead I want to share my recipe and technique for making pizza dough at home. Luckily for me my husband does most of the heavy lifting and I get to enjoy the fun bit of adding the toppings and eating the pizza.
Two tips before you get started
Until recently my go-to tool for getting (close to) restaurant pizzas at home was a ceramic pizza stone – you’ve probably seen them or perhaps you own one. But this changed with the recent arrival of my baking steel. I saw a fellow blogger’s glowing review of using a steel for home-made pizza and I had to have one. The baking steel works like a stone but it’s rectangular and is made from carbon steel – so it absorbs more heat and releases it faster than a stone. Finally I’m able to gloat about achieving a delicious airy Naples style crust at home.
I purchased my steel from a company called ROC Baking Steel. I like that their products are designed and made locally in Australia and their 60 day money back guarantee won me over. I’ll share photos of my baking steel pizzas soon but in the meantime the dough and pizza you see here is the result of my hard work during a pizza cooking class at Fratelli Fresh in Sydney. This takes me to my second tip – before you dive into making pizza dough take a class with a professional. Or at least pick the brains of the pizzaiolo at your local pizzeria. Many of the tips I learnt during my recent class have been added to this post.
This recipe makes four pizzas with a diameter of around 25cm. Make the dough 24 hours ahead if you’re using fresh yeast and at least 6-7 hours ahead for dried yeast. You’ll need:
- 500g ‘00’ flour
- 7g dried yeast or a small pinch of fresh yeast
- 24g good quality salt
- 325ml cold water
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Semolina (optional)
- A pizza stone or a baking steel
Prepare the dough
- Place the yeast in the water and dissolve it using your fingers.
- Mix the flour and salt in a bowl, then tip the flour mixture onto a clean work surface. Create a well in the middle.
- Put a little of the water mixture into the well and slowly combine the flour and water. Gradually add more water until everything comes together into a moist and sticky dough. How sticky? Not so that chunks stick to your hands. If it’s too moist add flour.
- Add a splash of olive oil to the dough then lightly flour a clean surface and knead the dough with the base of your palm. A few minutes of kneading is usually enough to reach the ideal spongy and light texture.
- Divide the dough into four balls of the same weight. Lightly knead each one to a uniform shape and pop into an airtight container that’s been greased with a little olive oil.
- To prove the dough store it at a temperature of 9 to 10 degrees for between six hours and two days. If you’re proving the dough for over 24 hours then the first part of this proving time can be in the fridge.
- Bring the dough to room temperature a couple of hours before you’re ready to roll.
- Using your hands (rather than a rolling-pin) turn your dough ball into a flat round pizza base.
- Here’s some advice from Lucio De Falco, one of Sydney’s top pizza makers on how to do this: ‘Using a motion from the centre outwards, and with only the pressure of the fingertips of both hands on the dough ball, turn the base over and around many times. In doing this a disc of dough will be formed. Do not punch the air out of the dough – this is what makes the pizza base light & fluffy.’
- Through this technique you should end up with a slightly raised edge – and this will make a perfect crust – something that’s hard to achieve if you resort to a rolling-pin.
- Of course you can also check out You Tube for ‘how to’ videos on turning dough balls into pizza bases.
- 30 minutes or so before you want to cook the pizza pre-heat your oven to the maximum temperature with the pizza stone or baking steel inside on the highest shelf. Don’t assume the fan setting will be the most powerful – on my oven the conventional setting is the hottest.
- Transfer the pizza base to a wooden board that’s been sprinkled with semolina. The semolina is great at preventing the dough from sticking. But you can also use a good sprinkle of flour.
- Add your pizza toppings. Be quick here especially with a tomato based pizza – leave it sit too long before cooking and the dough can become soggy.
- Before opening the oven check your topped pizza can slide on the board. Then quickly but carefully transfer (or slide) your pizza from the board onto the pre-heated pizza stone or baking steel.
- Cook the pizza for 4-6 minutes – keep a close on eye on it from 3 minutes and avoid opening the oven until it’s ready.
- Remove your pizza from the oven and add any finishing touches like fresh basil and a good drizzle of olive oil.
If you have any questions on this technique or suggestions on how I can make it any better let me know…..oh and what’s on my white based pizza here? Mozzarella, artichokes, mushrooms, chilli flakes and scamorza – a smoked Italian cheese. Deliciozo!
I’m sharing this post as part of Fiesta Friday #163 hosted by Angie, who founded the weekly virtual gathering over three years ago. Hopefully I’m inspire my fellow foodies into a pizza packed party!