Easy Homemade Pizza Dough
When I have a bread question I call my friend Peter Reinhart. He knows bread and has written several books on the topic, including the James Beard Award winning Crust & Crumb. You can also watch him discuss the art of bread and yeast in his TED Talk. Of course, not everyone has access to friends such as this – although truth be told Peter is as generous with his time and knowledge as any fellow chef and recipe developer I know. Americans – the world! – are crazy for pizza and it all starts with a great dough. In his book American PiePeter takes us on a tour of the best pizza across the nation. But what I wanted to know is, how do we made the best homemade pizza dough? Peter developed this dough recipe years ago and you should note that it calls for high-gluten or bread flour. The high gluten is around 14% and if you can find it, try it. The bread flour he refers to is around 12 or 13%. Either will work. In a Bakepedia exclusive, Peter describes the evolution of this recipe:
“When I first developed this recipe I was trying to stay as true to the New York pizza style as possible, and thus called for high gluten flour (about 14% protein), but discovered that most of my readers couldn’t obtain it without a lot of hassle (plus, many NY pizzerias use bromated flour, which I prefer to avoid). So I reformulated it using bread flour and found, much to my delight, that I like it even better this way. And the good news is that you can find bread flour (unbleached is preferred) at almost any market, and any major brand will work.”
Reprinted with permission from American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizzaby Peter Reinhart, ©2003. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC. Photography ©2003 by Maren Caruso.
This is the dough for making New Haven–style pizzas and pizzas in the style of Lombardi’s, Totonno’s, John’s, Grimaldi’s, and Tacconelli’s. It makes a thin, crisp crust with airy pockets in the crown. It’s a little sticky and a touch tricky to handle, but the payoff is in the snap when you take that first bite. This dough stays crisp better than Napoletana dough, which softens under the toppings. Neo-Neapolitan dough requires high-gluten flour (about 14 percent protein), or strong bread flour if you cannot get high-gluten, rather than the all-purpose flour used in Napoletana. If you do not have a retail resource for high-gluten flour, ask a local pizzeria that makes its own dough or a local bakery if you can buy a few pounds.
- 5 cups (22½ ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
- 2 teaspoons table salt or 3½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil or solid vegetable shortening
- 1¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon room-temperature water (70°F)
- With a large metal spoon, stir together all the ingredients in a 4-quart bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer until combined. If mixing with an electric mixer, fit it with the dough hook and mix on low speed for about 4 minutes, or until all the flour gathers to form a coarse ball. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then mix again on medium-low speed for an additional 2 minutes, or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and sticks just a little to the bottom. If the dough is too soft and sticky to hold its shape, mix in more flour by the tablespoonful; if it is too stiff or dry, mix in more water by the tablespoonful. The dough should pass the windowpane test. If mixing by hand, repeatedly dip one of your hands or the spoon into room-temperature water and use it much like a dough hook, working the dough vigorously into a coarse ball as you rotate the bowl with your other hand. As all the flour is incorporated into the ball, about 4 minutes, the dough will begin to strengthen; when this occurs, let the dough rest for 5 minutes and then resume mixing for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until the dough is slightly sticky, soft, and supple. If the dough is too soft and sticky to hold its shape, mix in more flour by the tablespoonful; if it is too stiff or dry, mix in more water by the tablespoonful. The dough should pass the windowpane test.
- Immediately divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Round each piece into a ball and brush or rub each ball with olive or vegetable oil. Place each ball inside its own zippered freezer bag. Let the balls sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then put them in the refrigerator overnight or freeze any pieces you will not be using the next day. (Or, if you are making the pizzas on the same day, let the dough balls sit in the bags at room temperature for 1 hour, remove them from the bags, punch them down, reshape them into balls, return them to the bags, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.)
- The next day (or later the same day if refrigerated for only 2 hours), remove the balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan to roll them out to take off the chill and to relax the gluten. At this point, you can hold any balls you don’t want to use right away in the refrigerator for another day, or you can freeze them for up to 3 months.