So you have picked up a bag of Double Zero flour, some tomatoes, mozzarella and a stick of pepperoni, but putting it all together still seems a little bit daunting. Here are some at-home pizza-making tips to simplify the process.
Really good dough can be produced with a variety of flours, although Double Zero flour yields a particular tenderness and crispiness that is sought after. More importantly than the flour though is the time given to let the dough ferment. Dissolve yeast in room temperature water and mix in enough flour to form a workable ball. Do not forget to add salt as well, or else the dough will lack flavor. Knead the dough for about fifteen minutes. This seems like a long time but it is necessary to develop good dough. After kneading, form the dough into a ball, coat with olive oil or butter, then let it rise in a bowl covered with a damp napkin in a warm place. Let it rise for at least an hour and a half or more. It will be nice and springy at this point.
After it has fermented, divide the dough into whichever number of smaller dough balls are needed, wrap each one in plastic, and refrigerate. Allowing it age in the refrigerator for a day or so will help improve flavor and workability. Whatever does not get used within a few days can be frozen.
When it comes time to bake pizzas, crank your oven as high as it will go. This will usually be 550 degrees. Having a baking stone in the oven is highly recommended. Look for stones that are thick and square. The thin round ones are not worth the trouble. A certain kitchen store in Pike Place Market sells a great one for about fifty dollars. The stone can be kept in the oven all of the time and helps it maintain heat. A stone is also great for leftover pizza because the slices can simply be plopped directly onto the stone. It will last forever unless you move it in and out of your oven and subject it to thermal shock.
Get all of your ingredients together before assembly because you do not want the dough to warm up before putting it in the oven as it will be unworkable. Dough can be formed using a rolling pin or just your hands. Either way, remember to work from the center out. Place the flattened dough on a peel sprinkled with flour (or cornmeal or semolina), top, then toss in the oven either on the stone, a baking sheet or a cast iron pan. It will be done in about ten to fifteen minutes depending on your oven and the toppings you have chosen. Finally, let your pizza cool a little bit before tearing into it. Like all baking endeavors, good dough takes practice and experimentation. Let the dough guide you and do not be afraid to try new things and different measurements. The specific environment in your kitchen and your oven will influence your dough's performance so a certain amount of this will be necessary.
Dan is the guy to ask about all our bulk food products. Contact him here. He also keeps the rest of the staff in pizza dough.
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