Making the best pizza dough

Everyone loves pizza. Can you believe that over 5 billion pizzas are sold worldwide every year! With so many different types out there, some varying by country, you could virtually try a new one every day. Why not try a traditional Norwegian pizza called “lørdagspizza” with minced meat? Or how about a Russion pizza with caviar? Or maybe create your own unique version?

Before you can decide what tickles your pizza fancy, you need to start with the base – the dough. Do a quick google search and there are a million different ways to make pizza dough. Some claim they are the best, some the quickest. Any recipe you decide to use should be based on a water/flour ratio of 65% water to 100% flour.

So with years of making pizza dough, I’ve found the sure fire way to create the best dough is actually pretty simple.

Your Hands are the Best Tool You’ve Got

Some people live and die by a bread machine. I’ve got one of those, but I’ll be honest with you, it may make life easier but it doesn’t make the best pizza dough. There is no alternative for the “feel” of dough. Dough should feel slightly tacky to the touch. At first, your dough will be a rough, sticky, glue-like ball, but with kneading, you will end up with a nice smooth texture that bounces back when pulled.

Making the Dough

Your basic ingredients include flour, corn meal, water, yeast, salt, sugar and oil. I prefer to use extra virgin Greek olive oil and organic flour. If you want to spice it up, you can add garlic or dried basil into the crust. Here’s what you will need for a basic dough:

  • 5 cups flour (plus additional for kneading surface)
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons bread yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 cups room temperature water
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Start by combining 3/4 cup of the water with the yeast and sugar. Let it stand for about 5 minutes or until it starts to foam. In a separate larger bowl add the flour, corn meal and salt. Mix together and create a well in the middle.

Once the yeast has risen, pour it into the well and add the remaining water. When you start combining the liquids with the dry ingredients, the mixture will by very sticky. Mix with one hand until it forms a rough mix. With your clean hand, pour the oil over your dough covered hand into the mix. Use your clean hand to remove as much dough from your hands as possible. Ensure that both hands are well oiled and begin to knead the dough in the bowl. Once combined, remove to a floured surface and continue to knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth. If your dough still remains sticky, sprinkle more flour onto your kneading surface until the dough feels smooth.

Lightly grease a bowl and place in the dough ball. Cover it with plastic wrap and a towel and let it rise for at least 2 hours.

This recipe makes enough dough for a thick crust 16″ pizza pan or a square 17″ x 12″ cookie sheet size. It can be split in half for a thinner crust and can be frozen for future use.

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