We never had a true recipe for pizza dough growing up. My mother would say, it needs to be softer than a pasta dough, but slightly tougher than a pastry dough. Let me tell you, it took me years before I could say I finally have a pizza recipe I can finally rely on.
Pizza recipes vary from region to region for many different reasons. If you search pizza dough, you will find so many varieties! First, you must decide on what type of pizza dough you are looking for. Are you more interested in a thicker dough, almost like a focaccia? Or are you looking to get a nice thin crust? Personally, I prefer a thin crust, but some fluffiness in between.
Another thing to consider are your pans. We use two different pans in our home. Traditionally we use a half sheet pan, typically reserved for party size pizzas, it is what I grew up on. The other, a large size round pan, usually stainless steel, but I’ve bought different versions over the years. I find that the round pans will give you that thinner crust and the half sheet will give you a fluffier pizza.
How you spread the dough is important. I believe in stretching it in mid air, then laying it onto a pizza tray and continue to stretch it by hand. Don’t spread it too thin when using a sauce as it can get soggy and not cook properly.
Another trick my mother taught me is to spread a small amount of vegetable shortening on the sheet pan and it will help the dough from sliding.
When it comes to yeast, I have used fresh, instant and active dry yeast. They all pretty much turn out the same, I wouldn’t say one is better than the other. Growing up we used active dry yeast for bread, but I have used the pizza variation, which rises a little quicker, but same result in the end. When it comes to yeast, it is important to know how to use each one and you shouldn’t have a problem any time. For this recipe I will reference to instant yeast. If you are using active dry yeast, make sure to follow these directions:
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 packet of active dry yeast
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp olive oil
- After a few minutes, the yeast should start to foam at the top. This means that it is activated and ready to use. If it doesn’t foam after some time, the yeast is not working.
Do not add salt to the yeast mixture, instead add it to the flour. Salt slows down your yeast. This is why you need a little sugar, it helps activate the bubbles ensuring it’s still active.
Which flour you use matters when making a pizza. Thus far, the best to use is 00 pizza flour. The reason that it works the best is that 00 flour has the right gluten content to create the right elasticity in the dough, as well as, it uses a soft wheat flour, making the dough nice and silky.
If I run out of 00 flour, I use all purpose or spelt in it’s place. I do use whole wheat as well, but I find I have to adjust the recipe slightly because it’s a different texture.
This is where I came to the conclusion what was missing in my dough all these years. Adding the semolina into the flour mixture gives you a great crust while keeping it fluffy in the centre. A real nice combination, I must say. Semolina is quite inexpensive, which helps you save on your flour consumption in the end as well.
Cooking Temperature and Time
It truly depends on the type of oven you have. You need to know your oven and how it maintains its’ temperature. If you have an industrial model, I would say 400 degrees 15-20 minutes, it’s ready.
If you do not have an industrial oven, 450 for the same amount of time will work.
I also find that I like to add my mozzarella 10 minutes into baking, It avoids it getting super brown.
Without further ado, here is my pizza recipe :
This recipe will make: 4 large round pizzas OR 1 half sheet and 1 quarter sheet pizza.
- 3 1/2 cups 00 Pizza Flour
- 2 1/2 cups semolina-plus a little extra for later
- 2 cups of lukewarm water (you may need a little more, I suggest adding a few tbsp at a time)
- 2 tsp instant yeast (equals to 1 pkg active dry yeast)
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- In a large bowl, combine 00 and semolina flour
- Add the instant yeast and salt, combine.
- Slowly pour water into dry mixture and with a wooden spoon, mix the ingredients until it starts to form together into a ball.
- With your hands, continue to combine the flour and water together. If the mixture is too sticky, add small amounts of 00 flour or if it is too dry, add in more water, a few tbsp at a time. You want to make sure the dough is no longer sticking to your hands or the bowl.
- Remove the dough onto a floured work surface and kneed for several minutes (at least 5), until you have a smooth ball form.
- Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with a dishcloth or beeswax wrap.
- Allow it to rise for 2-3 hours, or overnight in a draft free, warm space. You can refrigerate the dough, it will rise at a slower pace, but take it out and let it get to room temperature before prepping it.
A few extra tips:
When stretching the dough onto the pans, I find using vegetable shortening on the pan first will act as a glue and keep your dough from sliding.
Proofing your dough for an hour before adding toppings will avoid your pizza to shrink when it bakes. I usually cover it with a clean dish cloth to avoid having the dough dry out.