Homemade pizzas have become a cornerstone of flavors in any household. No matter what you fancy, no one can turn down a pizza, fresh out of the oven, the smell intoxicating, inviting and irresistible.
But how do you make that pizza even better? The answer is obvious: use the highest quality input ingredients into your pizzas.
In this particular article, however, we will be focusing on the very back bone of the homemade pizza; the homemade pizza dough.
The pizza dough is perhaps the most underrated aspect of any pizza. The cacophony of flavor of its toppings often steals the show from the dough. But a bad dough is always recognizable.
In this case, I utilize the same basic dough ingredients as any standard pizza dough, but I change the method and up the moisture, which elevates the finished crust’s quality to a whole new level.
Greater color, better flavor, and better structure. Like other breads, pizza crusts benefit significantly from a little more work on the baker’s behalf. The idea is to prepare your dough slowly and with advance planning. You’ll be pleased with the outcomes, I guarantee.
First up hydration. Different styles of pizza dough require different hydrations. Most pizza doughs have a hydration between 60 and 70%.
That is to say the amount of water in the dough is 60 to 70% of the weight of the flour. The higher the hydration, the softer and more open crumb the final product will have, but, the more difficult to handle the dough will be.
So higher hydration doughs are generally better for pan pizzas and Sicilian style.
Gluten is actually protein with water bonded to it. It happens when glutenin and gliadin proteins present in wheat mix with water, thus creating a sticky and stretchy type material.
Next up the all-important act of gluten formation. All pizza requires gluten development, some more than others. Once all of your ingredients are combined, there are a few different ways that you can develop gluten. The most well known and widely dreaded of which is kneading by hand.
Kneading can be a sticky, frustrating, and exhausting process for newcomers to the kitchen. So, if you’re not confident in your forearm strength and if you’re not worried about what your downstairs neighbours are going to think, try kneading in a dough mixer.
You might want to try the slap and fold technique, that is slapping the dough down, doing your best to elongate on the downstroke, folding it over on itself, turning it 90 degrees, and repeating.
This works especially well with higher hydration doughs that are difficult to manage. Depending on the rapidity and strength of your slaps this could take anywhere from six to 15 minutes.
And you’ll know that it’s done when the dough becomes soft and supple and manageable and passes what’s called the windowpane test, which is the baker’s standby practice of stretching a little piece of dough as thin as you can possibly manage, and if it becomes translucent without tearing, it has a sufficient gluten development.
A significantly more expensive, but exponentially easier method, is to use a stand mixer, which is pretty much as simple as adding your ingredients, affixing a dough hook and letting it knead on medium speed for five to seven minutes.
A slightly fussier, but much faster method, involves a food processor. Who’s violent, blade-whipping action can sufficiently develop gluten in a dough in as little as 90 seconds.
Another easy method that requires no special equipment is what I’m going to call the, “fold it over on itself every five minutes or so” method.
This method starts by roughly combining our ingredients until no dry spots remain, covering and letting rest for five minutes, and then, from the side, lifting the dough up onto itself, rotating 90 degrees and repeating for four total folds.
Recovering with plastic wrap and letting rest for another five minutes, and then repeating the process over the course of 20 minutes for a grand total of four times, after which you’ll find that your lumpy beginnings have effortlessly transformed a soft, springy, well-developed dough.
And then perhaps the laziest, but most time consuming method, is the no knead method, that is combining all your ingredients until no dry spots remain, covering and letting ferment at room temperature for 18 hours, after which you’ll be delighted to find that your lumpy craggy mass has developed into some oven-ready chewing gum.
Now that we know our basics of dough, we can get to the process of making the best dough for any type of pizza that you make.
“Auto” means self and “Lyze” means disintegrate. So autolyze means self destruct. Dont worry, “lyze” here refers to the self destruction of internal bonds in protein granules till the formation of amino acids; hence the name AUTOLYZE.
The first stage in the recipe below employs a baking technique called as a “autolyze”. Autolyzation is the mixing of flour and water only and leaving it for 20-60 minutes to benefit the gluten development and hydration of the flour. To mix flour and water before adding salt or yeast starts the autolyze process. Depending on your schedule, the soak time might range from 20-60 minutes or more. The important thing is to give the flour time to soak up the water.
Two key advantages of autolyze for dough development are: First, enzymes in the wheat start to break down starches into simple sugars when water and flour react, which are the nutrients yeast consumes during fermentation.
The more starch may be broken down during the resting time, which increases the amount of food accessible when the yeast is eventually added.
Second, wheat contains hydrophilic gluten proteins, which start out as tight coils and quickly unfold when water is absorbed. The gluten proteins can uncoil and form links with one another with the help of presoaking the flour, which makes the dough flexible without ripping.
This type of (passive) gluten development gives you a head start on creating a sturdy dough structure. As an extra bonus, an autolyze may be able to reduce the amount of kneading time necessary by more than half.
This dough recipe has a hydration level of about 75%, which is significantly higher than most other types of pizza doughs.
Increasing hydration at the dough stage produces a softer pizza crust with larger bubbles and better oven spring when baked, but the downside is a dough that is soft, wet, and sticky.
If you’re new to bread kneading, wet doughs can be difficult to handle because of their tendency to stick to the counter. The temptation will be to combat stickiness by adding more flour to the dough or the work surface, but since that would change the relative hydration in the dough, doing so should be avoided at all costs.
My method for working with sticky dough involves using my right hand to knead while using my left to lift, spin, and fold the bench scraper in between kneads.
I add a small amount of flour to my kneading hand every five strokes or whenever it is absolutely required, just enough to keep the dough from sticking but not enough to coat it clearly.
You may quickly develop the dough ball without making a significant, sticky mess by keeping your hands lightly dusted with flour and scraping the counter clean after each turn. The dough should become more elastic, less tacky, and easier to deal with after just a few minutes.
The French “stretch and fold” method, which you can see done here or here, is another method for handling wet dough (second link useful for even higher hydration doughs). You may instead omit the hand kneading entirely and use a stand mixer with a dough hook on low speed (1 or 2) for 5 to 10 minutes.
24 Hour Fermentation
Pizza crust flavor is developed by a long, slow fermenting process. To ensure a speedy rise and a pizza crust that is ready in just a few hours, the majority of basic recipes online call for using a lot of yeast and sugar in the beginning.
When bread dough is rushed in this fashion, the final crust is likely to taste “yeasty” but otherwise bland. Instead, allowing the fermentation to proceed more slowly over the course of a day encourages the production of lactic and acetic acids for a final crust with a more nuanced, complex flavor that draws out extra tastes from the wheat. However, a lengthy bulk fermentation has advantages beyond flavor.
The extra time gives yeast more chances to break down the many starches and sugars in the flour, making for a lighter, more palatable pizza crust.
And finally, a slowly developing dough will intensify the cooked crust’s colour, giving it a brick oven-like appearance, including some charring, and improving its aesthetic appeal. The lesson here is that going slowly is preferable because hurrying bread dough means sacrificing quality.
With the help of the refrigerator’s cool temperatures, this recipe is able to boost crust quality and stimulate flavor development over the course of 24 hours without running the risk of over-fermentation.
It’s not a challenging pizza dough; you only need to prepare it at least a day ahead of time. I should also mention that “24 hours of bulk fermentation” is the minimal amount of time required for this recipe.
You could prepare this dough and put it in the fridge for 48, 72, or 96 hours if you’re really prepared. Up until a certain point, flavor and texture will keep getting better the longer they sit.
You should also consider mixing a fresh batch when the five-day mark comes around because if you don’t, you’ll quickly discover why the fermentation stage of bread baking is so named.
24 Hour Pizza Dough Recipe
Here is all you need to know about 24 hour pizza dough recipe!
- 155 g or 2/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon (5 g) water at room temperature
- 1 ⅓ cup (166 g) (166 g) white all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup (40 g)wheat flour (whole)
- 4 grams of active dry yeast (1 teaspoon)
- Sugar, 1 teaspoon (5 g)
- Table salt, 1 teaspoon (5.7 g), or coarse salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons (9 g)
- 15 g or 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Flour and 2/3 cup water should be combined in a medium mixing dish. Mix thoroughly until almost no loose flour is present for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours. Cover the bowl and let it rest at room temperature (autolyze).
- After the autolyze phase, combine the sugar, yeast, and last teaspoon of water in a small basin. Ten minutes should pass as the yeast dissolves and activates.
- Over the soaked flour, add the yeast, salt, and oil. To incorporate the fresh ingredients, fold the dough three or four times.
- The dough should be rolled out and kneaded for five to ten minutes on a lightly dusted surface. The dough will first be moist and sticky, but as you continue to knead it, it should become smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough in a dish that has been lightly greased. Cover firmly with plastic wrap and permit fermentation for one hour at ambient temperature before continuing the process for a further 24 hours in the refrigerator.
- Pizza dough should be removed from the refrigerator, formed into a ball, and left to rest on the counter covered for 30 to 1 hour before baking. By allowing the dough to relax and warm up, it becomes simpler to stretch.
- Stretch and form the dough into a 14″-diameter pizza round on a surface that has been thoroughly dusted with flour. Before applying toppings, transfer to a peel or rimless baking sheet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is bread dough and pizza dough different?
The only difference between pizza dough and bread dough is that pizza dough uses a higher protein flour; otherwise, they both use the same ingredients: yeast, flour, salt, and water.
How to thaw frozen dough?
The frozen dough can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight (8 hours). When you’re ready to use it, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature on the counter for 30-60 minutes. Step 4 of the recipe should be followed. Alternatively, remove the frozen dough from the bag or container and place it in a bowl with enough room for it to expand before covering it with plastic wrap. Allow it to sit for a couple of hours to thaw and rise. Then it’s ready to go.
What is the best flour for pizza dough?
This is a subjective choice. People may say they use bread flour for their pizza doughs and it comes out amazing, but I would personally recommend using all purpose flour.