BASIC PIZZA DOUGH
Basic Pizza Dough
- For 2 round pizzas, about 12 inches wide, depending upon how thin you make them.
- 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 3 1/4 cups unbleached flour
- Extra virgin olive oil (1 T for dough, 1 tsp for the bowl & some for the finished pizza)
- 1/2 T salt
- A baking stone
- A baking peel (paddle)
1. Dissolve the yeast completely in a large bowl by stirring it into 1/4 cup lukewarm water.
When dissolved, in 10 mins or less, add 1 cup flour and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Then, as you continue to stir, gradually add 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 T salt, 1/4 cup lukewarm water and 1 cup more flour.
When putting in flour and water for the last time, hold back some of both and add only as much of either as you need to make the dough manageable, soft, but not too sticky.
2. Take the dough out of the bowl, and slap it down very hard against the work counter several times, until it is stretched out to a length of about 10 inches.
Reach for the far end of the dough, fold it a short distance toward you, push it away with the heel of your palm, flexing your wrist, fold it and push it away again, gradually rolling it up and bringing it close to you.
Rotate the dough a one-quarter turn, pick it up and slap it down hard, repeating the entire previous operation.
Give it another one-quarter turn in the same direction and repeat the procedure for about 10 minutes.
Pat the kneaded dough into a round shape.
3. Film the inside of a clean bowl with 1 tsp olive oil, put in the dough, cover with plastic wrap and put the bowl in a protected, warm corner.
Let the dough rise until it has doubled in volume, about 3 hours.
It can also sit a while longer.
4. At least 30 minutes before you are ready to bake, put the baking stone in the over and preheat oven to 450 degrees.
5. Sprinkle the baker's peel generously with cornmeal.
Take the risen dough out of the bowl and divide it in half.
Unless both your peel and your baking stone can accommodate two pizzas at once, put one of the two halves back into the bowl and cover it while you roll out the other half.
Put that half on the peel and flatten it as thin as you can, opening it out into a circular shape, using a rolling pin, but finishing the job with your fingers.
Leave the rim somewhat higher than the rest.
An alternate method—and the best way to thin the dough, if you can emulate it, is the pizza maker's technique.
First roll out the dough into a thick disk.
Then stretch the dough by twirling it on both your upraised fists, bouncing it from time to time into the air to turn it.
When it is the desire shape, put the circle of dough on the cornmeal covered peel.
6. Put the topping of your choice on the dough, and slide it, jerking the peel sharply away, onto the preheated baking stone.
Bake for 20 minutes or slightly more, until the dough becomes colored a light golden brown.
As soon as it is done, drizzle lightly with olive oil. (While the first pizza is baking, follow the same procedure for thinning the remaining dough and topping it, slipping it into the oven when the first pizza is done).
Source: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan