Pizza Dough is often thought of as difficult, but it’s actually really simple and fun to make. Makes 4 Doughs
Pizza dough follows the same essential basics as making bread dough except the final product is rolled out into a flat disc. A crisp base may give the impression that it is nothing like granary loaf or sourdough baguette, but in fact, Pizza dough is another form of leavened bread.
To Leaven – The act of adding a substance to a dough to make it rise.
What Flour to Use for Pizza Dough?
When making pizza dough, I often fight with myself over the best type of flour to use. The truth is, it probably doesn’t matter too much as long as it contains a high amount of protein. The flours include strong bread flour, Italian “00”, and all-purpose flour. The low gluten content of 00 flour helps keep the dough stretchy.
The same argument can also be made for yeast. Fresh, instant, or dried. But the answer to that seems easier to answer, and that is the easiest option of dried yeast. Simply add to lukewarm water and set aside to allow the yeast to reactivate. It’s not that fresh yeast isn’t easy, it’s just always proved a little harder to find.
Is this just a Pizza Dough Recipe?
When writing this recipe, I wondered whether to include toppings or not, but that is where the arguments really ramp up. The most important thing is rewarding your patience in waiting for the dough to rise. And so, here is the pizza base. Top it however you like. (But please no pineapple.)
This recipe calls for semolina flour as it helps prevent the dough from sticking while giving the pizza base a crispy texture. You can use extra plain flour but semolina won’t char like plain flour or give the pizza base a floury, soft texture.
Kneading the Dough
Kneading is important to the dough to stretch the gluten and strengthen its bonds. This process allows proteins to expand as the dough rests resulting in an elastic dough with a stronger structure.
Kneading properly also helps distribute the ingredients more evenly. This doesn’t mean just salt and flavourings, but the carbon dioxide bubbles caused by fermentation. Fermentation is caused by yeast, arguably the most important ingredient in bread as this what cause the dough to rise, feeding on the dough.
Properly kneading the dough will also help build volume as strengthened gluten will allow more gas bubbles to find their way into the loaf. It’s these gas pockets that give a loaf of bread its height, and those characteristic holes.
However, over-kneading is possible which will result in overworked gluten. This will result in a strong, stiff dough, and the exact opposite of what you want to happen. Overworking is easily done using an electric mixer, so if using one to speed up the process, take care to stop with plenty of time. You can always knead again, but once it’s too late, you’ll end up with dry bread without any air pockets.
A well-kneaded dough should be soft, and springy when pressed. A good way to test if the dough is ready is to break a small piece off and stretch it out. It should stretch out thin enough to see through it.
This recipe will make 4 medium pizza doughs.
500g “00” Flour or Strong Bread Flour, Plus extra for dusting
½ Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Caster Sugar
7g Instant or Dried Yeast Sachet
325ml Lukewarm Water
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A handful of Semolina Flour, for rolling.
- In a bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast together.
- Make a well in the centre and pour the water and oil into the well. Using your fingertips, gently mix the flour into the water until a dough forms.
- Lightly flour a clean work surface and turn out the door. Knead for 10 minutes until the dough springs back when pressed with a finger. Alternatively, keep the mix in the bowl and use a kneading attachment or dough hook on a handheld blend or standalone mixer. It will speed up the process.
- Return to a clean bowl, dusted with flour and cover. Set aside and leave for at least 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, knock back the dough, and divide it into four pieces and roll it into balls. Place the balls on a lightly floured tray and cover again. Set aside for another 30 minutes.
- Using semolina, lightly dust a work surface, and roll out the pizzas by hand or using a rolling pin. Ideally, the dough should be at least ½ cm thick.
Cooking the Pizza Doughs
- Preheat the oven to 200o Celsius / Gas mark 4.
- Roll out the pizzas as above.
- Top the pizza dough with your favourite toppings, or garlic butter for homemade pizza bread.
- Bake for 8 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the top is a light golden brown.