Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Kitchen Adventure: Pizza Dough

I love pizza. Who doesn't, really? But when I started using CalorieKing, I realized that I couldn't justify a slice of pizza from most of my favorite pizza places.  There were simply too many calories, and the toppings weren't customizable enough. I did some basic research and realized that I could make a good pizza at home.  All I needed was a good dough recipe, a peel and a pizza stone.

I tried several different recipes to no avail; the results were either too chewy, too doughy or just not very tasty. So when I received a copy of Baking Illustrated for Christmas two years ago, I tried out their recipe.  What a success! It is my favorite pizza dough recipe to date. It freezes well and cooks to just the perfect amount of crisp chewiness for my tastes. They provide three methods of kneading the dough: by hand, with a standing mixer, and using a food processor.  I find the standing mixer method preferable since kneading by hand is rather tiresome.  I've recently modified this recipe to use my sourdough starter instead of instant yeasts, and have been quite pleased with the results.

Please note that I use a kitchen scale to bake and most of the measurements will be listed by weight.

Basic Pizza Dough (makes 3 medium or 6 personal pizzas)
4 fl.oz. warm water (approximately 110° F)  AND 1 envelope instant yeast
240g sourdough starter
10 fl.oz. room temperature water (between 68° and 77° F)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for oiling the bowl
22 ounces of bread flour, plus a little extra for dusting work surfaces and hands
1.5 teaspoons salt
The Tools and Ingredients
You'll need your standing mixer with both the paddle and dough hook attachments. I've tried a couple of different bread flours but my favorite is King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour. You'll also need a thermometer, preferably a digital one for ease of reading.

Once you've gotten your supplies together, the first thing I like to do is measure out my flour and salt.  I do this directly into the mixer's bowl.
22 ounces of King Arthur Bread Flour

Add the 1.5 teaspoons salt to the flour and attach the bowl and the paddle attachment to the mixer. Turn the mixer on low and allow to run for a few minutes.
While the flour and salt are mixing, measure out 4 fl.oz. of warm water.

Sprinkle the package of yeast into the warm water and let stand for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, measure 10 fl.oz. of room temperature water and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into the yeast mixture and give it a quick stir.

With the paddle attachment and mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast mixture in a slow, steady stream. Mix just until the dough forms a cohesive mass.  Switch to the dough hook.

The dough formed a cohesive mass. Time to switch to the hook!

With the dough hook attached, set the mixer to low speed and allow to run for 5 minutes.

Note that the dough may be kneaded enough before the 5 minutes is up. I always like to give the dough a poke around the 2.5-3 minute mark to check the springiness.  The dough is done when it springs back at your touch. While dough is kneading, pour a tiny amount of extra virgin olive oil into a large bowl and rub the oil all over the sides of the bowl.

Fill your liquid measuring cup with about two cups of water, put it into the microwave and allow to come to a boil.  The dough should be done in the mixer by now; take it and shape it into a ball.  Place the dough in the oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Ensure the the plastic wrap is tight; you don't want any moisture escaping.
It's hard to see, but there is plastic wrap on there!
Take the bowl and place it into the microwave with the measuring cup full of hot water. The microwave is being used as a proofing box, to allow the dough to rise unhindered.  Allow the dough to rise 2 hours or until doubled in size.

2 hours later...
Punch the dough down and allow to sit for 5 minutes. After, turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and divide into the correct number of portions.  At this point, I divide my dough into six separate balls and place the dough that won't be used into Ziploc storage containers. You can store these containers in the freezer for a couple of months.  Just allow them to completely defrost in the refrigerator before using it.  

For the dough being used now, allow the dough to relax under a damp cloth for no less than 10 minutes but no more than 30 before shaping.  Top as you see fit. :)

Basic Nutrition Information
(based upon 6 personal sized)
139 calories
5g fat
0.7g saturated fat
20g carbohydrates
1g fiber
4g protein