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Jan 4, 2013 06:12 AM

Your thoughts on pizza dough?

Yesterday I watched AB do a show on some of the best things he's ever eaten. The episode was where he kept hugging the pigs head. Anyone see it? Anyway, he ate a spinach covered pizza. The pizza joint he went to was in NY. It showed the chef making the pizza dough. He never mentioned adding salt. He said he let the little patties rise for twenty four years so the yeast would make the dough tastier. Did he put the patties in the 'walk-in' or leave them out? I add some 'high gluten' flour to the basic all purpose flour. Does anyone else do this? I always pre-bake the 1/4" thick bottoms on the pizza stone then cool them then 'build' them. I always lightly coat the bottoms with a bit of OO before putting the grated mozza. cheese layer on. This seems to help the cheese stick to the crust. Any thought or tips you might share? I've got a big annual pizza party coming up soon. I pre-bake about two dozen pizza crusts and stack them on the table. I have about twenty various toppings for people to 'build' their own pizza.

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  1. "He said he let the little patties rise for twenty four years so the yeast would make the dough tastier"

    Please tell me that was a typo, lol! I let my pizza dough rise overnight in the fridge. It really develops a much better flavor, IMO. I make the dough the night before, lightly oil a bowl, plop the dough in it, cover with plastic wrap and let it slowly rise in the fridge for approx. 24 hours. I have fiddled around with ratios and my preference is a 50/50 mix of bread flour and all purpose (King Arthur is the brand I use). 100% AP flour doesn't have the chew that the bread flour brings to the party.

    I don't pre bake. I let the dough warm just a little (15 min maybe) at room temp, get it in the round(ish) shape, plunk on a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal, add my toppings (adding no additional oil), then shuttle it into my preheated 500 degree oven on a pizza stone. generally in 6-8 minutes I have a nice semi-thin crust pizza.

    I can see how pre-baking would be key when making that many pizzas in one clip. Sounds like a fun party!

    4 Replies
    1. re: mels

      Yeah, twenty four 'years' does seem like rather a long time. LOL
      The chef did something interesting: He put some cheese chunks on the dough then into the oven then removed it then topped the pizza with a bunch of washed/dried spinach leaves and a drizzle of OO. Then into the oven again. When the spinach leaves were just starting to scorch out came the pizza. The leaves did look pretty burnt. The chef said doing spinach this way "brings out a bunch of different flavors you don't get with say steamed spinach". I plan on trying this soon.

      1. re: Puffin3

        I love the flavor of charred spinach, and think the texture is perfect for spinach. Frequently, spinach on pizza is crowded and covered with cheese, so it is just a soggy mess.

      2. re: mels

        I do mine almost the same, mels.

        I've played around with lots of different dough recipes and rising methods, and I prefer the cold rise, as well. I think it imparts more flavor into the dough. A 24-hour rise is perfectly sufficient, but I actually prefer closer to a 48-hour rise. I've let my dough sit in the fridge for anywhere from 1 - 5 days with good results.

        I use all KA Bread Flour most of the time. Sometimes I'll use 00 Flour that I pick up from a local Italian grocer. That said, I have no problem mixing doughs or even going with all AP Flour. KA Bread Flour, to me, seems to impart the most flavor, and I've had more success achieving the crispy/chewy crumb ratio that I prefer.

        I actually bring my dough out of the fridge much earlier than you do ... usually about the time I start heating my stone, meaning about an hour before I plan to bake the pizza.

        I will brush the edge of the dough with oil (usually garlic oil), but I have stopped brushing any part of the dough that will be topped. I find that if I add oil to parts that will be topped with cheese, or any other fatty topping, makes the pizza too oily.

        I never pre-bake my dough when using a stone or skillet. I always pre-bake my dough when using the grill or a baking pan.

        I usually only make a few pizza's at a time, but I could definitely see where if you were making two dozen crusts they'd have to be pre-baked at least a little.

        1. re: MonMauler

          Thanks for the tips, MonMauler. Next time I make dough I will let it go another day or two in the fridge longer. I didn't realize I could let it go that long. My bread baking mother in law is the one who clued me in to the cold rise. What a difference it makes!

      3. The original comment has been removed
        1. I sort of agree with everyone's tips/techniques here (or, rather, I don't really disagree with any of them), but honest to goodness I think the key to a kick-ass pizza dough is how you cook your pizza.

          This method has never failed me, and gives your dough (no matter how made) a wonder chew and texture.

          3 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            As alluded to in my previous post, I, too, love baking pizza in a skillet. But, I do not use the method advocated in your link. I've tried it but don't think it's superior or as versatile with various dough concoctions as the stone.

            My skillet pizza is usually a thicker crust - almost a pan pizza (it really is a pan pizza). This method works with thinner doughs, but I prefer it with thicker doughs. The ultimate benefit I realize from cooking in a skillet comes from not having to transfer the dough to a hot surface; as such, I like to use this method when I want pizza and don't feel like going out to get semolina or corn meal to transfer my dough to the cooking surface.

            1. Prepare the dough.
            2. Lightly oil a skillet. I like to mix some garlic oil in here and generally use a 12" skillet.
            3. Preheat oven to 400.
            4. Form dough and place it in unheated oiled skillet.
            5. Dress pizza.
            6. Put pizza on burner turned to medium-high. Give it ~4 minutes. The top of the pizza will not look done at all after this step.
            7. Transfer skillet to preheated oven. Wait 12-20 minutes, until toppings look done and crust is to your liking.
            8. Slide pizza out of skillet onto cutting surface (it will come out easily).
            9. Profit.

            1. re: MonMauler

              Regardless of the type of "skillet method" used, I think both you and I can agree that good pizza crust has less to do with the dough itself and more with *how* you cook the dough.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Absolutely. I totally agree with this.

                I've used a variety of different dough recipes, and most all of them will make a perfectly fine pizza crust. Most all of them will also make an absolutely horrendous crust. The biggest factor is the cooking method, in my experience.

          2. I use a different dough for different styles, pan pizza, cracker crust, on the grill, etc. For pizza parties I usually stick to my wet olive oil dough and Neapolitan style pizzas. I make the dough allow it to rise for 4 days in the frig (can go up to 10 days for even better flavor) and absolutely there is salt in it, no salt and you will have a insipid crust. This may be sacrilege to some but I don't use High Gluten flour in it, haven't found that it changes anything very much. The great thing about using a wet dough is make one big batch and store it in a large container then when it's time to use you simply cut of the porition size that you think is correct for the person making it. Small child small portion, teenage boy = l bigger portion so everyone get's their own custom sized pizza.

            Obviously I never par bake this crust instead I let the people make their own it's part of the fun of a pizza party and if kids are involved they love it. You want to roll the dough out to about 1/8" thickness so some need a little help but getting dust the counter top will flour and have it seems to brings smiles to everyones faces. However I or another adult does the baking because the ovens are set at maximum (550 for most home ovens) and a good pizza stone must be used. (Want to know if yours is good keep it in an oven at 550 for a couple of hours of use and see if it cracks) I twos tones that almost cover the bottom of my oven. Preheat those for at least 30 minutes, make your pizza and make sure your exhaust fan is on high because the cornmeal will smoke when hitting the hot stones.

            Depending upon toppings the pizza take between 8-13 minutes with 8-10 being most common for normal amount of toppings. The crust will come our slightly crispy and chewy with a some nice char bubbles on the edges and golden brown on the bottom. Cheeses will be caramelized and bubbly, fresh tomatoes will have begun to dry out and brown, etc etc.

            This is a basic wet olive oil dough


            And while he uses a mixer to mix that small amount you really can do it with just a wooden spoon, also I would let the dough sit for at least 3 days because the complexity of the flavor will increase dramatically. I also usually skip the outside of the refrigerator rise but that is because I am letting it rest for 3-4 days, this may be helpful to develop flavors quicker - your choice.