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My Go To Pizza Dough

Jon
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| Servings: Makes two 10- to 12-inch crusts (4 people)

Ingredients

  • 390 grams bread flour (about 2 ¾ cups)
  • ¼ ounce active dry yeast (about 2 ½ teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons medium or coarse cornmeal

Instructions

Food processor method

  1. In a food processor fitted with the metal S-blade, combine the flour, yeast, and salt and turn the machine on. Add the oil through the feed tube, then add the water in a slow, steady stream. By adding the water slowly, you can watch the dough come together and you’ll get a sense of whether you should add more or whether it’s too wet — it should look pliable and smooth after a minute or so of processing. (The more water you can add and still be able to handle the dough without it sticking to your hands, the better it will be.) Continue to process the dough for about 2 minutes. The dough should form a ball and ride around in the processor. If it does become too wet, add another tablespoon or two of flour until 1t’s moist to the touch but can be handled easily. When the dough 1s done, it should be soft, slightly sticky, and elastic. It may also be hot from the machine, so be cautious.
  2. Lay a piece of plastic wrap about 12 inches long on aclean work surface. Use your hands to press the dough into a rectangle on the plastic, about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide. Press your fingers into the top of the dough all over it, making indentations as though it were a focaccia. Fold the left third of the dough over and repeat the finger indentions on this folded section. Fold the right third over (as you would a letter) and use your fingers to make the indentations again.
    Cover the folded dough with plastic wrap and let rise for 20 minutes.

Hand method

  1. Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl and mix. Add the oil and mix. Add the water slowly, mixing to create a dough. It will be sticky, especially at first. Flour a clean work surface, move the dough to the surface, and begin to knead it. Don’t tear it, Just push it back and forth and over itself again and again. Keep kneading it until it’s soft as a baby’s bottom — seriously, that is the best description of what your dough should feel like. As you’re kneading it, moisture will rise to the surface and it will get stickier at times; use a bit of flour to keep it soft and pliable, but don’t go overboard (as for the food processor method, the more hydration the dough can tolerate and you can handle, the better it will be).
  2. Lay a piece of plastic wrap about 12 inches long on aclean work surface. Use your hands to press the dough into a rectangle on the plastic, about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide. Press your fingers into the top of the dough all over it, making indentations as though it were a focaccia. Fold the left third of the dough over and repeat the finger indentions on this folded section. Fold the right third over (as you would a letter) and use your fingers to make the indentations again.
    Cover the folded dough with plastic wrap and let rise for 20 minutes.

Finishing the Pizza Dough

  1. After 20 minutes, cut the dough in half and form each piece into a neat ball (each ball will make a 10- to 12-inch-round pizza). You can use the dough right away, but you’ll find the texture of the crust will be a bit breadier and the flavor less complex (that said, I’ve done it many times 1n a pinch without complaint from anyone but the overly critical cook, i.e., me).
    Instead, for best results, I recommend freezing, which retards the yeast’s activity—allowing for the flavor to continue and develop in the dough as 1t thaws, without letting it rise and become bready. (A similar outcome can be achieved by refrigerating the dough for up to 1 day, but if it’s very warm or humid, even in the fridge your dough can expand relatively dramatically. I’ve had some break through the plastic on a warm July day even in the fridge. If this happens, simply unwrap, rollit back up into a ball, and rewrap. It’ll be fine.)

To freeze and thaw

  1. After dividing the dough into 2 balls, wrap each ball tightly in plastic wrap and freeze immediately after wrapping. The morning of the day you plan to make pizza, take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to slowly thaw. Twenty to thirty minutes before making the pizza, pull the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature while you prepare the toppings.

Shaping the crust

  1. Working with the dough in your hands (not flat on a work surface), gently begin to stretch the dough into a circular shape, pressing your fist into the center of the dough and pulling at the edges with your other hand. With both hands, stretch the dough, being careful not to tear it. Working in a circular motion, pull the thicker edges of the dough outward, letting gravity help you. Continue to stretch the dough until it’s relatively even in thickness (the edges will be thicker—that’s okay) and you have the size you want.

To cook the pizza

Preheat the oven to 550°F. (If I have time, I do this up to 1 hour before cooking so the oven is really hot.)

If using a stone and a peel

If using a stone, put it in the oven to preheat, too. Dust the peel generously with the cornmeal. Carefully lay your shaped crust on the peel.

If using a baking sheet

Brush a large baking sheet with extra virgin Olive oil and sprinkle it with the cornmeal. Place your shaped crust on the baking sheet being careful to work it into the shape of your plan.

Top the pizza as desired and either slide it off the peel and onto your heated stone or place the baking sheet directly into the oven. Bake the pizza until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling, 6 to 10 minutes.

Source: Truly Madly Pizza by Suzanne Lenzer

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