Thursday, October 1, 2009

Perfect Pizza Dough

October is National Pizza Month. I'm celebrating by posting a pizzalicious post every day this month. This is my solemn vow. I love pizza, a lot, so I don't think I'll have any trouble coming up with 31 pizzalicious posts for you. I'm kicking off National Pizza Month with a very special blog and a recipe for the perfect pizza dough. enjoy,

-Pizzalicious Lauren

This is for PERFECT pizza dough and I'm telling everyone! At least it is the most perfect dough I've made so far.

This recipe is adapted from Jeff Varasano Famous NY Pizza Recipe. Varasano (left, look at that handsome devil!) spent six long years (and broke several ovens) perfecting a pizza recipe before opening his restaurant in NYC. My very good friend Alexand I spent just one afternoon adjusting this recipe for a pizza party. Jeffhad already done all the work. If you have time you should check out his guys amazing journey to the perfect pizza! We learned so much! Thank you Jeff!

On his website Jeff wrote:
"This pizza is modeled after Patsy's on 117th street in NYC. I have been working on this for SIX years, but FINALLY I can report that I have achieved my goal. Many people have tried my pie and swear it is not only the best pizza they've ever had, but a clone of the original Patsy's recipe. This margarita pie is incredibly light and perfectly charred. It took just 2 minutes and 10 seconds to bake at 825F."

Obviously this is not as perfect as Jeff's dough, and our recipe does not call for an 825 degree oven either. We're not trying to burn your house down.

However, a very hot oven is key for a good pizza. You'll also need a baking stone (big enough for an 18" Pie) or paving stones from Lowe's for about $0.99 each, and a pizza peel to get the pizza off the stone. It is gonna be really really hot.

Jeff Varasano's web site also has really helpful pictures for how the dough should look and not look.

Perfect Pizza Dough
Makes one 18” pizza (or two if you roll it out thin)
1 ½ cup warm water (110˚-115˚ F)
1 packet of dry active yeast
3 ½ cup of King Arthur bread flour
1 ½ teaspoon of salt

Pour warm water into mixing bowl and sprinkle yeast on to dissolve for about 10 minutes. Add one cup of flour and mix well on low with a dough hook. Then add the second coup of flour and mix well scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add 2/3 C of flour and mix well. Reserve the rest of the flour for later.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow the mix to rest in a cool dry place for about 20 minutes. This will help the dough to autolyse, which just means the flour will have time to absorb the liquid in the mixture. The dough should be very wet at this point and frankly will look all wrong compared to other dough you have made. This resting period is vital to making good pizza dough. So don’t skip this step!

After the dough has rested for 20 minutes mix the dough on low for 8 minutes. 5 minutes into it start gradually adding flour by the spoon full. The dough will still look weird It will be somewhere between a dough and a batter. The hook should go through the dough.

Slightly increase the speed and add most of the remaining flour, but you still want very wet dough, so don't over do it. It should look really stringy and stretchy. Let this rest for another 20 minutes. Autolyse baby!

After the dough’s second nap, pour it out into a floured surface. Four your hands and sprinkle the dough with a little four too. Gently coat the dough with flour by turning and folding it on the floured surface. It isn’t really kneading so be gentle with it. The appearance of the dough will change pretty rapidly once the flour starts sticking to the surface. The dough should feel soft (like a baby’s bottom, really). Divide the dough with a sharp knife if you want two pizzas. Make sure to coat the cut sides as well. Shape into dough balls.

Move the dough into separate very lightly oiled (with extra virgin olive oil) plastic containers with lids. Turn the dough to VERY lightly coat them with olive oil. Seal the lids on the containers and let them sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour, but preferably 1-3 days.

I know you will be tempted to bake it up right away, but really this resting period will do wonders for the dough.

When you are finally ready to make a pizza with this dough be gentle with it. Never use a rolling pin or knead the dough to spread it out. That pops the good bubbles and leaves you with flat dough.

Be sure to preheat your pizza stone to 550˚ F for at least a half an hour. Remember that once you have the dough spread out on the peel you have to move fast so it doesn’t stick. So make sure you have your toppings ready.

Place the dough on a floured peel. Build a little crust with your fingers, leaving a mound in the middle. Then spread the dough in the mound out gently. Gently shake the peel every once and a while to make sure it isn’t sticking to the peel.

Once it is spread out top your pizza with your chosen ingredients (not too much in the middle though), slide it on to a preheated pizza stone. Bake for about 5-7 minutes until desired doneness. Slip the peel under it and take it out and transfer it to a platter or pizza pan and cut it up. Let it cool then devour it.

Pizza pictured above: Pear, bacon and Gorgonzola cheese pizza on the perfect dough


Anonymous said...

Very Good Thanks

Tony Lio said...

Looks Delcious

Tony Lio said...

Looks Delicious!!

Anonymous said...

Crust was great. Made it in the morning and had to use it that night as the fridge did not retard the rise enough. Punched down twice.