Often times we enjoy having friends over on a warm summer evening for a night of pizza made in our outdoor pizza oven. While the variety of pizza toppings and flavors vary, the common ingredient to all of them is the pizza dough.
That is where I come in, your guest blogger, Mike.
In our house, making the pizza dough is a “Blue Job” (that means that it’s a boy job). It started out being a Brad job because he was working at the local pizza joint Peppis Italian Fuel and had been taught by the best. It only took a few occasions of cleaning up the kitchen after Brad had made the dough before I decided to take it on. Making good dough so that your significant other can take all credit at the end of the evening is the most important part. “Oh, your pizza is so creative!” “Oh, this pizza is so good!” “This is the best pizza I have ever had!” Blah, blah, blah…. We all know that this is only possible with a solid foundation, queue the pizza dough.
To set the stage, a pizza night usually involves guests of 10 – 20 people. Usually it’s last minute and often during a day with several different activities happening at the same time. It seems therefore that in order to properly make pizza dough, you must have a certain amount of chaos in the house. Your significant other will likely be making four other things at the same time in the kitchen and in the middle of this chaos, you will be tasked with making enough pizza dough to feed all the people about to arrive. She will generally allocate you approximately a 12 inch square corner of the kitchen in which to work.
Each dough recipe will make three 12 – 14″ pizzas so it usually means 3 to 4 batches of dough. One thing you have to be aware of is that left over pizza dough also makes fabulous cinnamon buns in the morning so make sure you have one batch left over at the end of the evening. The making of the cinnamon buns is a topic for another day. It is also a blue job for some reason.
The good news about all of this is that a night of pizza is always full of friends, fun and perhaps the odd glass of wine. It usually lasts the entire evening. So, in order to set yourself up for success, go get your party hat, a cold beer and let’s get this pizza dough done. Here is how I do it.
What you’re going to need is flour, salt, eggs, olive oil, yeast, a bit of sugar, water and of course that beer to ensure you don’t get parched during the process. On the flour front, if you can get your hands on 00 flour (we find it in the local Italian store) it works better than regular. If you don’t have 00, or don’t feel like going to find it, then just use regular. However, try and find some 00 when you are feeling motivated as it is better.
Every blue job, even ones in the kitchen, require appropriate power tools. In this case, I use a Kitchen Aid mixer. I suppose you could do it by hand, but why! If you don’t have one, go buy one! Tell her it is a “safety issue”, that always works.
Start by taking a 1/2 cup of lukewarm water in a large measuring cup (I use a 4 cup). Sprinkle the yeast on the water and then add the sugar to the yeast/water mixture. They tell me that the sugar helps the yeast do its’ thing but I don’t know for sure. I add it, it works, so it’s all good! Set this aside while you get the other things started.
Set up your mixer with dough hook. In the mixer bowl, add your flour. Create a bit of well (a hole) in the middle of the flour where you are going to add the yeast mixture and other fixings.
The yeast mixture should have a bit of froth on it now so add it to the flour mixture. I like to give the yeast mixture of bit of swirl in the measuring cup as I’m adding it to make sure I get all of that yeast off the sides. Add the egg, the salt, a shot of olive oil. Set the bowl in the mixer, set up the dough hook and let’s mix this up.
Start the mixer, on slow (maybe 2 notches). Don’t put it on fast like my son does otherwise you will have flour dust everywhere! Nice and slow see. That’s the way you do it. Nice and slow! Throw back to my Flintstone days if you remember that — comment if you know what episode. (Here is the answer by the way)
Now, you have to start adding water to the flour mixture. It’s takes about 2 more cups of lukewarm water. Don’t just dump it in and hope for the best! You have to add it slowly. Start by adding about 1 cup to start and let it mix up. When it starts to dry out, add a bit more, maybe another 1/4 cup. Let it mix. Keep working the water in a bit at a time. As it gets closer to the final state, add the water in smaller amounts.
What you are looking for is a nice dough ball that has all the flour mixed in. On our mixer, I usually have to get a spatula and work the flour mixture away from the sides a bit. If the dough ball is not staying together and still has dry flour in it, you need a bit more water. If it is all mixed in with a lot of moisture but is not forming a nice ball of dough, you have too much water. Just add a bit more flour to dry it up. Don’t dump a whole bunch of flour in, add it slowly! Nice and slow see ….
Let it mix until it forms into a ball of dough with all the flour mixed in and not sticking to the sides. The proper consistency will stay in a nice ball of dough, and will not stick to the sides or your hands. Once you reach this stage, stop adding water and remove the bowl from the mixer.
Now, we have to do a few batches, so we need to move this dough to a bowl so it can rise. Get a large bowl, run a bit of olive oil around the outside so the dough does not stick as it rises.
Move the dough ball to the bowl, give it a swirl in the olive oil to coat the ball. Then set the bowl in a warm place (good thing there was all the cooking chaos earlier so the back of the stove is usually warm). Cover the bowl (with the dough inside) with a clean tea towel and get ready for the next batch. Don’t forget to fill your beer before proceeding!
You need to let the dough rise for about 3 hrs, so for a 6:30 start, I usually tell everyone to leave the kitchen for the dough making activity around 3:00. An hour or two into the rising process, you will see that the dough is rising over the bowl (hopefully). Just punch it down, give it another swirl in the bowl to reform the ball and recover till you’re ready to make the pizza.
This pizza dough recipe makes enough for 3 good sized pizzas. When it is time to make the actual pizza, it’s now 6:30 and your beer is long empty (go get another), take a ball of pizza dough and cut it into 3 equal size pieces. Take one, put the other two back in the bowl and cover.
You are going to need a place to roll this dough out. I use a large cutting board but a clean counter or table works fine. Flour up the surface you are using to roll out your dough on so the dough does not stick. Get your rolling pin and roll it out. Try and do it evenly so it is kind of round, but don’t panic if it is not perfect. Square pizza tastes the same as round pizza. If you want to be real fancy, you can try a toss the dough in the air and give it a spin. Roll it out to about 12 – 14′ round, about 1/2″ thick. Once complete, it’s ready for toppings but you have to do one more SUPER IMPORTANT step.
Transfer that rolled out dough (you can just pick it up) to your pizza peel. Be sure to sprinkle some semolina flour (corn meal works fine as well) on the pizza peel first. Why? So it does not stick! Otherwise when you try and put it in the oven it is going to stick to the pizza peel and you will have scrambled pizza. Let me say that pizza is not like eggs, scrambled is not as good as baked.
Add those toppings, get it in the oven, sit back and let your significant other take all the credit! Try making Wood Fired Brie Pizza with Carmelized Onions and Poached Pears.
At the end of the evening, don’t just throw out that extra dough you made. Cover it in plastic wrap to seal it from the air and put it in the fridge. Tomorrow morning, you can be the real star and make fresh cinnamon buns!
Versatile Dough Recipe for Pizza
- 5 cup Flour White
- 2 tsp Quick Rise Yeast
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 1 Egg
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2.5 cup Luke Warm Water
Add 1/2 cup of luke warm water to a measuring cup (I use a 4 cup). Sprinkle the yeast on the water and add the sugar. Let it sit while you setup the rest of the ingredients and the mixer.
Add flour to the mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour. Add the egg, salt, olive oil into the well of the flour mixture.
Add the yeast mixture to the flour bowl.
Start the mixer on slow. Add about 1 cup of water to the get mixing started so the flour mixture starts to blend together. You may need to use a spatula to work the mixture away from the sides.
Keeping adding water in increasingly smaller amounts until dough forms a nice ball. The proper consistency is a nicely formed ball that holds it shape, does not stick to the sides of the bowl or your hands.
Once complete, move the dough ball to a new bowl. Coat the ball with a bit of oil olive to keep in from sticking as it rises. Cover it with a tea towel and set in a warm place. Let it rise for about 3 hours. You will need to punch it down about 1/2 way through (just reform the dough into a new ball).
When the dough is ready, cut it into 3 equal parts. Take 1 and set the other 2 aside. To make the pizza, flour the rolling surface and roll the dough out to about a 1/2" thick and about 12 - 14" in diameter.
Move the dough to the pizza peel that has been sprinkled with semalina flour to prevent it from sticking when you put it in the oven. Add your toppings and get it in the oven.
Calorie count is for one piece of pizza. Each of the three pizzas would be cut into 8 pieces.