tips for better pizza

pizza dough

26th May 2020

This dough can be made on the day or can be refrigerated up to 3 days (the latter allows the dough to develop, creating more flavour and texture). I alternate between the two, depending on convenience.

notes 

  • Choose quality flour: flour is the main ingredient in pizza dough, so use high quality and high protein flour, all-purpose works fine but for better texture (in terms of hole structure), use bread flour or tipo “00”.
  • Lean towards a wetter dough: when mixing the dough, if in doubt, keep the dough on the wetter/stickier side, you will be adding more flour during the roll-out phase.
  • Cold ferment: as mentioned above, a cold ferment improves flavour and structure, after making the dough (step 2), keep in the fridge for 1 (minimum) to 3 days (ideal), then on the day of pizza making, take the dough out 3 – 4 hours prior to cooking and repeat as above (step 4).
  • Keep toppings simple: use quality ingredients and keep the toppings to 2-3 vegetables.
  • Crispy crust: invest in a baking stone, it holds a lot of heat, releasing it into the pizza as it bakes, giving it a crispier crust.
  • Hot oven: a very hot oven plays an important part in the finished result. Preheat the oven on the highest setting – generally 290C/550F, for at least 45 minutes – 1 hour.

pizza dough

Recipe adapted from Shir, with guidance here and here.

Makes 3 medium pizzas (enough for 3 – 4 people).

Active time – 90 minutes

Total time – 4½ hours

ingredients

1 tsp yeast

1 cup/220g water

2 Tbsp olive oil

2½ cups/340g bread flour/Tipo “00” or unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

cornmeal or semolina, for cooking

preparation

1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast and water, allow it to sit for a few minutes for the yeast to activate.  Add the olive oil.

2.  Add the flour and salt, and with the dough hook attached turn the mixer on low, mix for 4 minutes. The dough should look sticky but still resemble a loose ball. If not, add a tablespoon of flour or water accordingly, it is safer to lean towards a wetter dough, you can always add more flour later on. When you touch it, the dough should be sticky on your hands. I leave it to sit in the bowl, however, if kneading by hand, transfer to an oiled bowl.

IF YOU WANT TO PREPARE THE DOUGH IN ADVANCE – at this step you can refrigerate the dough up to 3 days (see variation above). 

3. Cover and allow the dough to rise for 2 – 3 hours.

4. Cover a working surface with a generous amount of flour, gently shape into a rough rectangular shape and divide into 3 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, gather the four corners to the centre. Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball.  Dust with flour; set aside on work surface. Repeat with remaining portions.

5. Cover and let rise for 30 mins – 1 hour (preferable). Preheat your oven to the highest setting, 290C/550F with your pizza stone or baking tray in it. Prepare your toppings (see below).

6.  When ready to bake: cover a baking sheet with semolina/cornmeal and press down the dough, working from the centre outwards with your fingers to form a crown. Then, pick up the dough and stretch the dough between your knuckles, slowly enlarging the circle keeping a raised edge. This is a helpful video to watch, from 1 min onwards.  Avoid using a rolling pin because the pressure pops the bubbles. Leave the outer ½-inch untouched to keep the bubbles intact. Repeat with the remaining dough.

7.  Assemble your toppings: drizzle a little olive oil on top and assemble your toppings. I try to keep the topping to 2 – 3 vegetables. When finished, brush the outer edge with olive oil.

8.  Cook your pizza: In the preheated HOT oven, scoot the pizza (still with the baking sheet) onto the pizza stone or preheated baking tray. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes. After 2 minutes of baking, lift the dough and slide the baking paper off – but if you forget – no problem, the baking paper gets brittle where there is no pizza. 

favourite pizza toppings

  • finely chopped rosemary, tomato base (I use smaller quantities of this sauce), *torn strips buffalo mozzarella, sauteed red and green peppers, sauteed eggplant rounds. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with fresh oregano leaves and red pepper flakes.
  • olive oil, ¼ cup ricotta cheese, *torn strips buffalo mozzarella, ¼ cup basil pesto, grilled zucchini, finely chopped green olives, fresh basil leaves. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with ¼ cup grated parmesan and fresh basil leaves.

*to avoid a soggy pizza, place fresh mozzarella which has been sliced between paper towel sheets to absorb excess water – allow to rest for 15 minutes.

vegan 

to serve

  • a big green salad of arugula leaves, toasted pinenuts, shaved parmesan with a sweet balsamic and olive oil dressing.

Because of the hot oven, the cooking time is quick, so as one pizza comes out, the next one goes in and by the time you have finished the first pizza, the next one is ready!

pizza

3rd September 2009

This dough can be made on the day or can be refrigerated up to 3 days (the latter allows the dough to develop, creating more flavour and texture). I alternate between the two, depending on convenience.

NOTES 

  • Choose quality flour: flour is the main ingredient in pizza dough, so use high quality and high protein flour, all-purpose works fine but for better texture (in terms of hole structure), use bread flour or tipo “00”.
  • Lean towards a wetter dough: when mixing the dough, if in doubt, keep the dough on the wetter/stickier side, you will be adding more flour during the roll-out phase.
  • Cold ferment: as mentioned above, a cold ferment improves flavour and structure, after making the dough (step 2), keep in the fridge for 1 (minimum) to 3 days (ideal), then on the day of pizza making, take the dough out 3 – 4 hours prior to cooking and repeat as above (step 4).
  • Keep toppings simple: use quality ingredients and keep the toppings to 2-3 vegetables.
  • Crispy crust: invest in a baking stone, it holds a lot of heat, releasing it into the pizza as it bakes, giving it a crispier crust.
  • Hot oven: a very hot oven plays an important part in the finished result. Preheat the oven on the highest setting – generally 290C/550F, for at least 45 minutes – 1 hour.

pizza dough

Recipe inspired by Shir, with guidance here and here.

Makes 3 medium pizzas (enough for 3 – 4 people).

Active time – 90 minutes

Total time – 4½ hours

ingredients

1 tsp yeast

1 cup/220g water

2 Tbsp olive oil

2½ cups/340g bread flour/Tipo “00” or unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

cornmeal or semolina, for cooking

preparation

1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast and water, allow it to sit for a few minutes for the yeast to activate.  Add the olive oil.

2.  Add the flour and salt, and with the dough hook attached turn the mixer on low, mix for 4 minutes. The dough should look sticky but still resemble a loose ball. If not, add a tablespoon of flour or water accordingly, it is safer to lean towards a wetter dough, you can always add more flour later on. When you touch it, the dough should be sticky on your hands. I leave it to sit in the bowl, however, if kneading by hand, transfer to an oiled bowl.

IF YOU WANT TO PREPARE THE DOUGH IN ADVANCE – at this step you can refrigerate the dough up to 3 days (see variation above). 

3. Cover and allow the dough to rise for 2 – 3 hours.

4. Cover a working surface with a generous amount of flour, gently shape into a rough rectangular shape and divide into 3 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, gather the four corners to the centre. Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball.  Dust with flour; set aside on work surface. Repeat with remaining portions.

5. Cover and let rise for 30 mins – 1 hour (preferable). Preheat your oven to the highest setting, 290C/550F with your pizza stone or baking tray in it. Prepare your toppings (see below).

6.  When ready to bake: cover a baking sheet with semolina/cornmeal and press down the dough, working from the centre outwards with your fingers to form a crown. Then, pick up the dough and stretch the dough between your knuckles, slowly enlarging the circle keeping a raised edge. This is a helpful video to watch, from 1 min onwards.  Avoid using a rolling pin because the pressure pops the bubbles. Leave the outer ½-inch untouched to keep the bubbles intact. Repeat with the remaining dough.

7.  Assemble your toppings: drizzle a little olive oil on top and assemble your toppings. I try to keep the topping to 2 – 3 vegetables. When finished, brush the outer edge with olive oil.

8.  Cook your pizza: In the preheated HOT oven, scoot the pizza (still with the baking sheet) onto the pizza stone or preheated baking tray. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes. After 2 minutes of baking, lift the dough and slide the baking paper off – but if you forget – no problem, the baking paper gets brittle where there is no pizza. 

favourite pizza toppings

  • finely chopped rosemary, tomato base (I use smaller quantities of this sauce), grated mozzarella, sauteed red and green peppers, sauteed eggplant rounds. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with fresh oregano leaves and red pepper flakes.
  • extra olive oil, ¼ cup ricotta cheese, torn strips of mozzarella, ¼ cup basil pesto, grilled zucchini, finely chopped green olives, fresh basil leaves. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with ¼ cup grated parmesan and fresh basil leaves.

vegan

  • olive oil, tomato base, pesto, sauteed red & green peppers, sauteed eggplant rounds, chopped green olives. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with pine nut parmesan and microgreens.

to serve

  • a big green salad of arugula leaves, toasted pinenuts, shaved parmesan with a sweet balsamic and olive oil dressing.

Because of the hot oven, the cooking time is quick, so as one pizza comes out, the next one goes in and by the time you have finished the first pizza, the next one is ready!

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