How to Make Better Pizza Dough At Home

How to Make Better Pizza Dough At Home

Everything you "knead" to know

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The perfect pizza dough can be definitely only by its eater—that is to say, everyone has an opinion, and with it their idea of a perfect pizza base. 

My perfect pizza dough is light both in its texture and in its taste. The base should be thin, but not papery and should feature bubbles both fine and dramatic. I’d rather it not be soaked in tomato sauce and heave under the weight of its toppings when I pick up a slice. The crust should be crispy on the outside and pliable on the inside. I tend to prefer a thinner crust, although recent experiments have me making an easy-peasy, no-knead dough that I shape with a puffier, Neapolitan-like crust. In this article you'll learn how to make better pizza at home—how to make a dough that doesn’t taste overly yeasty or floury—and I'll share with you my favorite pizza dough recipe.

(My) perfect pizza dough

The flour

In Italy, type 00 flour is preferred for pizza baking, but if you can’t find it, all-purpose will do. If you'd like to add a little extra flavor to the dough, you can also mix the 00 flour with whole wheat or spelt flour. I recommend using a ratio of 4 parts 00 flour to 1 part whole wheat or spelt flour.

Fresh or dry yeast?

It doesn’t really matter whether you use fresh or dry yeast. Dry yeast is nothing more than dried fresh yeast after all. Since it contains no liquid, can be stored for longer and can often be added directly to flour without being activated beforehand. Fresh yeast will only keep for a few days in the refrigerator, and must be dissolved in lukewarm water or milk, sometimes with added sugar, before it can be used to make dough. If you need to substitute fresh yeast for dry yeast in a recipe, or vice versa, one packet of dry yeast (7 g or ¼ oz)  is equal to  ½ cube of fresh yeast (21 g).

The kneading

Do you have a food processor with a dough hook? Jackpot! If you only have your hands at your disposal, then it's kneading, kneading, kneading, for about 10-15 minutes to activate the gluten (the protein) in the flour. The alternative is a no-knead dough, where this work is done by the relatively high moisture of the dough, that is, the water, and time. More on this below.

Rise and shine

Whether you want to make a quick pizza dough, a classic pizza dough or a no-knead pizza dough, every yeasted dough needs to rest so to create an airy structure. Once you’ve made  a few doughs yourself, you’ll notice that you can influence the resting time with the amount of yeast and the atmospheric temperature. As always, patience pays off. If you give the dough time, it will thank you with wonderfully airy pizzas and depth of flavor. After all, the long resting time not only makes the time more flexible, but also a thousand times better terms of taste.

Can you freeze pizza dough?

Yes—and you can leave it in your freezer for up to 3 months. To do so, portion your dough into balls for one pizza each, put them in plastic boxes and take them out of the freezer 8 hrs. before you want to bake your pizza. You can also do the following, if you’d rather freeze an entire pizza to make a DIY frozen pizza that is ready to go: Shape the dough, top it with the basic toppings (tomato sauce, mozzarella), bake it

Homemade pizza dough – let’s knead!

If you’re happy to take your time: Try a No-Knead Pizza Dough

Just like good bread, good pizza needs time. Of course it can be made faster, with more yeast, more kneading and less time, but this comes rather at the expense of the taste. Through a lot of research (thanks to Youtube and co!), even more trial and error, and many failed pizzas, I ended up with this recipe: a no-knead pizza dough for pizza that can be left to rise for an extended period—up to days even. You can literally watch the structure of the dough change and smell (and later taste) how the flavor develops over time. The great thing about this dough is that for every 500 g of flour (approx. 3 cups) used there is relatively little yeast. To create the very wet dough, you use the same amount of water to flour, stir it all together, and leave it to rest.

Neapolitan-style pizza with Lisa

Neapolitan-style pizza with Lisa
Go to recipe

If you need pizza fast: Try this quick-rise pizza dough

If you want a quick dinner, your favorite movie is about to start, or you’re just impatient, you can either buy a pizza dough (be sure to check with your local pizzeria first!)—or double the amount of yeast in your recipe, add a spoonful of sugar to the yeast water, and let your dough rise in a warm place just until the tomato sauce is seasoned, the ingredients are shredded, and the cheese is grated.

Low-carb pizza dough

Those who consider pizza an unhealthy food should know that toppings count. If you’re concerned about calories, pay attention to ingredients like cheese and salami rather than focusing on the pizza dough. However, if you're looking for low carbohydrates in your diet, doughs made from vegetables such as cauliflower are a great alternative.

Spelt pizza dough

Light spelt flour can be successfully exchanged with regular wheat flour in classic pizza dough recipes. But note: The darker the flour, the more water is needed to hydrate the dough. This also applies if you use wholemeal flour.

Gluten-free pizza dough

Skip back to the section on low-carb pizza dough or check out this guide, which explains in detail how gluten-free baking works. You’ll also find a flour mix that, once mixed together, can be used for all kinds of recipes, including pizza dough.

What about the toppings?

Once you’ve mastered the dough, the perfect pizza isn’t far away. You can start with these recipes in case you need inspiration:

Published on April 13, 2020

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