Saturday, January 22, 2011

Easy pizza dough

Friday night is usually pizza night here at Casa de Gumby. The search for a better pizza is what got me interested in baking bread. I had been using Boboli crusts but the cost and the rather bland flavor just didn't cut it.
I've accumulated a lot of recipes on hard drive and I have no intention of stopping but I have to admit to finding a simple recipe that works. It comes from Maggie Glezer's book, "Artisan Baking". It seems to be related to the Neapolitan crust recipes. Here's what I've tried so far.


250g bread flour (AP is acceptable)
165g warm water
1 tsp non-iodized salt (about 5g of kosher or sea salt)
1/8 tsp (in warm temperature), 1/4tsp (in cool temperatures, below 65F) Active Dry Yeast or Instant Dry Yeast.
Sprinkle ADY across the top of the water and wait 5-10 minutes until it blooms. If using IDY, it can mixed into the flour. Since a long proof is required either ADY or IDY can be used as long as you keep an eye on the dough. In a bowl, mix the water and flour to a sticky mass, leaving no dry flour on the bottom of the bowl. If you like using your hands, you can squeeze the dough to help the mix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead lightly for a minute or two. Shape into a ball and place in an oiled bowl then cover.
The idea is let the dough sit for at least 4-8 hours. This will be where the gluten forms. This is also why only a small amount of yeast is called for. If you are proofing in a warm room, 78-84F, you can start the dough in a refrigerator for about an hour so to slow down the yeast. The yeast will have its way so don't hold any ideas firm in your head about time. The dough will be ready when it's ready. Always remember, a slow proofing is better than a fast proofing.
I put my dough in the 60F basement yesterday to slow things down. Instead of using yeast, I used about 82g of a 75% hydration starter and I still needed to use the fridge. I probably could have used 40g and still gotten a good rise. Like most of my bread, it remains a work in progress.
The long proof is used to produce an extensible dough, one that stretches easily, without resorting to using an olive oil addition. Many pizzerias use a similar yeasted recipe and cool proofing procedure.
When I finally turned out my dough, it was easily stretched out. I did need to give it a short rest of about 10 minutes but this isn't unusual. I had enough dough for 14" pan and had I used a roller, it probably would've gone to 16".
I made the mistake of cooking it at too low a temperature for the dough thickness. I was using a perforated pan and thought that 450F would be suitable since I par baked the crust before topping it off. I think that 475F for 20 minutes rather the 16 minutes at 450F should produce a crustier result. Using a baking stone will require the same temperature, but different time frames.
I like the promise of relatively brief work requirements for the dough. Variations could include the substitution of whole wheat or durum flour for the crust. Warm flat beer, American lagers for example, could be substituted for the water.
When I get a glamor shot worthy pie, I'll post that. Until then, if you have a better recipe, I'd be interested in seeing that.
As long as the mistakes prove to be edible, they're all good.

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