Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pizza Dough with Tips and Tricks

Yields: 2 medium pizzas
1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast

1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting work surface and hands
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray for oiling the bowl

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes.

Add the room-temperature water and oil and stir to combine. Combine the salt and half the bread flour in a deep bowl. Add the liquid ingredients and use a wooden spoon to combine. Add the remaining flour, stirring until a cohesive mass forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic 7 to 8 minutes, using as little dusting flour as possible while kneading. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap.


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend. Measure the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture as well as the olive oil. Mix until a cohesive dough is formed. Switch to the dough hook. Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap.
....Continue on.... 
Let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it. Heat the oven to 450° for at least 30 minutes with the pizza stone on the middle rack.

While the oven is preheating, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two pieces. Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball. (If freezing one dough, wrap in plastic wrap then in a Ziploc bag and freeze at this point.) Cover the remaining dough with a damp cloth. Let it relax for at least 10 minutes, but not more than 30 minutes.

Sprinkle a sheet of parchment paper with cornmeal. Shape the dough into a 12 inch circle. Note: If the dough springs back a lot while you try to shape it, let it rest for 15 minutes then try again.

Brush the outside edge of the crust lightly with olive oil. Top your pizza as desired. Slide the parchment paper topped with the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone. Bake until the crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes.


TIP #1:
If you don’t plan on using your dough immediately, freeze it. To do this, mix up the dough as usual and let it rise as normal. After dividing the dough into two equal portions, wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and store inside a freezer-safe bag, and transfer to the freezer immediately. (Reuse these bags to avoid being wasteful!) The double layer is important here. Even after the dough is moved to the freezer, it will continue to rise a bit before the rise is completely suspended. It always, always pops through the plastic wrap so the extra layer of protection is needed to prevent exposure.

TIP #2:
Freeze the dough until it is ready to be used. The day you plan to use the dough, transfer it to the refrigerator in the morning to thaw in time for dinner that evening. (If using the dough for lunch, transfer to the refrigerator the night before.) The dough that has been frozen tastes every bit as good as fresh, so it is incredibly convenient to have available for a quick, throw-together meal.

TIP #3:
Should you freeze the dough if you plan to use it the very next day? It seems logical that you could simply refrigerate it immediately after the rise and use it the following day. However, I have tried this and it didn’t go well. The refrigerator is not cold enough to stop the rise quickly and the result is an over-risen, crazy puffy monster dough. My solution? I still use the freezer initially to completely stop the rise, and then I transfer the dough to the refrigerator until it is ready to be used.

TIP #4:
A pizza stone is an integral part of really good homemade pizza. Why? The stone is preheated with the oven, producing a very hot surface for baking the pizza. When you slide the assembled pizza onto the stone, the bottom of the crust starts baking immediately, producing the perfect crisp bottom that provides the slices structural integrity, while the top portion is still soft and chewy.

TIP #5:
Before making the pizza, take the dough out of the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to take off the chill. Preheat the oven and the pizza stone at 500˚ F for 30 minutes as well. During this waiting period, I like to get all my toppings ready.

TIP #6:
***If the dough springs back a lot while you are trying to shape it, let it rest for 15 minutes and try again. This allows the gluten in the dough to relax and should make shaping easier. Sometimes my dough requires multiple resting periods for gluten relaxation, other times it shapes perfectly right off the bat. It’s a mystery to me, but at least I know how to handle it.

Source: Baking Illustrated,  Tips and tricks from AnniesEats
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