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How to make a pizza dough

Tools needed to make a pizza dough:

Digital scale
Electric Stand Mixer

This page discusses the general pizza dough making techniques. There is no particular recipe associated with this page. Rather, the general pizza dough principles shown here can be applied to any dough recipe.

Measuring by weight, not volume

measuring pizza dough by weight not volume

One of the first things that really shocks people is the measurement by weight not volume. Normally flour is measured in cups. I prefer to discuss flour measurements in grams. This removes the chance of inaccurate measurements due to compact flour. Flour can be easily compacted and 1 cup, for example, can have multiple weight measurements considering how tighly packed the flour is. For reproducibility I measure by weight, not volume. Normally I will put a flexible cutting board on top of my digital kitchen scale, zero the scale, and pour the flour on the cutting board. The flexible cutting board allows for easy addition of the flour to the liquid mixture.

General addition of ingredients

Using Alton Brown's terminology, there is a "wet team" and a "dry team." Water, yeast, and oil for example should be mixed together separately from the dry ingredients. I usually prepare the wet ingredients in the mixing bowl of my Kitchen Aid mixer. The dry ingredients should be measured first and added to the wet ingredients. I add the flour and salt together first and keep them on the flexible cutting board. Once the wet ingredients are prepared add the dry to the wet in thirds. That means three additions as shown in the photos below.

pizza photos

Initially the mixing bowl is filled with the wet ingredients. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix slowly with the mixing paddle. After the mixture starts to look even stop the mixer and add the another 1/3 of the dry ingredients.

pizza photos

Add the next 1/3 of the dry ingredients and slowly mix together using the mixing paddle.

pizza photos

After the second dry ingredient addition is complete add the final 1/3 and slowly mix with the mixing paddle. The mixture will be very clumpy at this point. Switch over to the dough hook and set your mixer to medium/medium high speed. There is no need to knead for too long. Just let the dough ball spin around for a while. I've had fantastic pizzas turn out with little to no kneading with the dough hook. Just make sure that the dough hook beats the dough around for a few minutes.

pizza photos

If you want you can round out the dough ball a bit and make it look more like a ball.

pizza photos

Grab a nice sized bowl and pour some oil in the bottom. You can use any type of oil. Turn the dough ball around and roll it all around in the oil. Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap. Try to lay the plastic wrap down over the dough ball to minimize the amount of air between the plastic wrap and the dough ball. In other words, don't have the plastic wrap tight to the edges of the bowl. Push the plastic wrap down directly touching the top of the dough ball. This will help stop the formation of a "skin" on top of the dough. For most of the recipes I use I do a cold overnight rise in the refrigerator. If the dough recipe doesn't call for an overnight rise in the refrigerator the recipe will clearly indicate this. You can't just switch a recipe from a one hour room temperature rise to a cold overnight rise. The yeast quanities will be different. The following photo shows the pizza dough after the overnight rise. The plastic wrap has been removed.

pizza photos

Measuring water and proofing yeast

It may seem foolish but the recipes I use generally have water measured by weight, not volume. The only reason for this is that some recipes call for odd amounts of water. To me it's easier to measure 340 grams of water than 1 and 1/5 cup or something weird like that. I always make sure the water is warm but not hot. If it's hot to the touch it will kill the yeast. If it is cold the rise may take a while to get started. So make sure it is bath water warm. If you want to be exact use a thermometer and make sure your water is about 110 degrees F.

pizza photos

I use active dry yeast primarily because it is cheaper and you can buy the little jars of it rather than expensive sleeves of three. I place the jar in the refrigerator and it lasts a really long time. As soon as the water is measured I dump the dry yeast right into the water. Even if the recipe doesn't call for sugar I always add a pinch of sugar to the yeast/water mixture. This makes the yeast a bit happier and seems to get things going faster. This proofing process ensures that the yeast is actually alive. When you initialy add the yeast to the water the yeast will settle at the bottom of the container. After about 5 minutes or so you will see a change. The yeast will start to float up to the top and you may see some bubbles. This is good. The photo below shows the yeast rising to the top. It shows that the yeast is alive and is ready to go. At this point I add the yeast/water mixture into the mixing bowl. The dry ingredients are then added in thirds to the wet ingredients.

pizza photos

A nice pizza dough making video

A room temperature rise trick

If you have a cold drafty house during the winter a room temperature yeast pizza dough rise can be trouble. One trick around this is to put the dough in a cold oven (i.e., not turned on). Get a cup of water and put it in the microwave until it is roaring boiling. Put this cup in the oven with the dough. This will provide some additional heat and moisture, which is always a really good thing for a pizza dough to rise.

a photo of a dough rising in a warm oven

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