Make perfect pizza dough

Recipe 1 – Using ‘00’ flour (the Italian way)

This recipe is an Italian recipe which should give you a superb, thin, crispy pizza base which gives an authentic stone baked taste and texture when cooked in your pizza oven.

Ingredients – Makes approx’ 10 x 10” pizzas

Easy blend yeast – 7g

‘00’ grade Italian flour – 650g (1lb, 5oz)

Table salt – 2 teaspoons

Olive Oil – 25ml (1 fl oz)

Milk (warm) – 50ml (2 fl oz)

Water (warm)  – 325ml (11 fl oz)

Method

Mixing

To make the dough, start by mixing the flour, yeast and salt together in a mixing bowl. Once thoroughly mixed, warm the milk and stir into the mix along with the olive oil. Gradually introduce the warm water mixing gradually until all the water has been added. This should result in a soft dough being created.

Kneading

Transfer the dough to a floured worktop (wood or granite are ideal) and roughly knead the dough for around  5 minutes. Kneading is very important to the recipe as it develops the gluten within the dough, making it stretchy with an elastic feel. To knead, use the ball of your hand to squash the dough, pushing the dough away from you. Pull it back into a ball, turn and repeat. It helps if this process is performed in a relatively rough manner to help develop the elasticity within the dough. You can check that the dough is ready to rise by cutting a small piece of dough from the ball and stretch it into a thin sheet. Hold it up to the window and if you can see light through it without the dough tearing, it is ready to be set aside to rise. (If the dough tears, continue kneading for a few more minutes).

Rising

After 5 minutes kneading, transfer the dough into a large clean bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave it at in a warm place to rise for 1½ hours, at which point the dough should have increased to double its size.

Knocking back

Using floured hands, remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a floured surface. The dough is now ready for knocking back, which is a process which removes all the excess air ‘knocked out’ before proving. To knock back, repeat the kneading process for a few minutes until it looks the same as it did before it was left to rise (stretchy with an elastic feel).

Proving

Once you have knocked back the dough, roll it into a ball and set it aside for 30-60 minutes until it has risen once again to roughly double its size.

Rolling

The dough is now ready to use. You can now divide the dough into equally sized balls, and roll each one out onto a floured surface, up to a diameter of roughly 10” (25cm). You are now ready to apply your chosen pizza toppings ahead of cooking.

Handy tip

Whilst you are making your dough, make an extra batch and pop it into the freezer in individual balls. Dough freezes really well and can be taken out of the freezer, de-frosted and used whenever you fancy firing up your pizza oven.

Recipe 2 – Using strong white bread flour

If you don’t have any ‘OO’ flour to hand or you are struggling to buy it locally, all is not lost…you can still bake a pizza using standard strong white bread flour. Whilst you will always get the very best results from ‘00’ flour, by using this recipe, you will find that strong white bread flour is a reasonable substitute and can be bought in most high street supermarkets .

Ingredients – Makes approx’ 10 x 10” pizzas

Dry yeast – 1½ teaspoons or Fresh yeast – 15g (½oz)

Strong white flour – 400g (14oz)

Table salt – 2 teaspoons

Semolina – 100g (3½ oz)

Olive Oil – 50ml (2 fl oz)

Water – 275ml (9½ fl oz)

Method

Mixing

To make the dough, start by stirring the flour, semolina and salt together in a mixing bowl. Once thoroughly mixed, stir in the dried yeast (if you are using fresh yeast crumble it into the mix and stir well). Keeping the mix in the bowl, create a well in the centre of the mixture and pour most of the water along with all of the olive oil into the well. Using your hands or a good wooden spoon, bring the dough together, combining the mixture until a dough is formed. Add the remaining water if the dough feels tight or hard.

Kneading

Transfer the dough to a floured worktop (wood or granite are ideal) and roughly knead the dough for around 10 minutes. Kneading is very important to the recipe as it develops the gluten within the dough, making it stretchy with an elastic feel. To knead, use the ball of your hand to squash the dough, pushing the dough away from you. Pull it back into a ball, turn and repeat. It helps if this process is performed in a relatively rough manner to help develop the elasticity within the dough. You can check that the dough is ready to rise by cutting a small piece of dough from the ball and stretch it into a thin sheet. Hold it up to the window and if you can see light through it without the dough tearing, it is ready to be set aside to rise. (If the dough tears, continue kneading for a few more minutes).

Rising

After 5 minutes kneading, pre-oil a large bowl and transfer the dough into it, covering with a damp tea towel and leave it at in a warm place to rise for 1½ hours, at which point the dough should have increased to double its size.

Knocking back

Using floured hands, remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a floured surface. The dough is now ready for knocking back, which is a process which removes all the excess air ‘knocked out’ before proving. To knock back, repeat the kneading process for a few minutes until it looks the same as it did before it was left to rise (stretchy with an elastic feel).

Proving

Once you have knocked back the dough, roll it back into a ball and set it aside for 15-30 minutes until it has risen once again to roughly double its size.

Rolling

The dough is now ready to use. You can now divide the dough into equally sized balls, and roll each one out onto a floured or semolina covered surface, up to a diameter of roughly 10” (25cm). You are now ready to apply your chosen pizza toppings ahead of cooking.

Handy tip

Whilst you are making your dough, make an extra batch and pop it into the freezer in individual balls. Dough freezes really well and can be taken out of the freezer, de-frosted and used whenever you fancy firing up your pizza oven.