Description (Some HTML is OK)
Pizza Dough - advice and recipe from an actual pizza chef.
I know, right?
Makes 40 servings
- '00' flour
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Preparation (Some HTML is OK)
[I used to be a chef. My old boss wrote to me saying he was starting a kitchen in his new place and could he have my old pizza dough recipe which, while not wishing to sound big headed, was probably the most stunning pizza dough known to man. FACT. I wrote him the following.]
[Also note that the quantities in this "recipe" make enough dough for a 20 cover restaurant to get through a double sitting friday lunchtime.]
First thing you need to do is remember the adage: “Dough is a cruel mistress. Her whims are capricious.”
Say it with me. Dough is a cruel mistress. Her whims are capricious.
Then you need the baker’s yeast. Comes in little tins. Looks like little tiny yellow/brown balls.
Mix a healthy teaspoon of that in with a table spoon of flour and stir well in some warm water. (When I say warm, you need to it be around the temperature that you’d have to shower in. Not so hot that you can’t put your hand in. The little yeast cells are alive, and life on this planet generally likes the same temperature ranges. If you’re comfortable, chances are that the yeast will be too.)
Leave that to stand somewhere draught free and warm for about 15 mins or until it’s got a good head of foam growing on it. Try not to think about that too much.
Meanwhile, you’re over the other side of the kitchen preparing the flour:
You’re using “00” Flour – it’s much better, but can be quite expensive. That company I used to use in Stratford sell it for £10 a bag – but it can be up to £30. (You remember them? The guy who got you that Arsenal shirt? Can’t remember their name. Plus they will have been re-located cos of the Olympics.) “00” Flour is finer ground than Strong White. It’s also whiter and makes a prettier dough. The dough lasts longer too, so it’s worth springing for the extra.
Anyway, you need two big scoops of that flour. (Basically around the equivalent of two normal bags of flour. Maybe two and a half.)
You need two pints of lukewarm water.
You need a couple of good glugs of E V Olive Oil
You need a couple of teaspoons of good quality salt.
Whap the flour, salt, activated yeast and oil in the dough machine.
Then add the two pints of water.
Then turn the machine on and leave it on for 5 minutes.
Its important to resist the temptation to fiddle about with it now. You need to leave it well alone and let nature take its course. Depending on the weather and humidity and an infinite number of factors, the dough will either be perfect, too wet or too dry.
Either way, you’re not going to know for 5 minutes until the dough is well mixed and the flour has released some starch.
So once I get to this point, I’d normally wander out for a smoke and a coffee with you.
Perfect dough does not stick to the dough mixer or your hands but is as soft and pliable and kind of sexy. I can’t really put it any better. You’ll know when it’s perfect.
Anyway, if the dough is perfect after 5 mins of mixing then pull it out, put it in a big bowl and cover it. It really needs to rest for 20 minutes at least before you use it – but you’ll be able to get away with it if there’s an emergency. As the dough settles, the little yeast cells start multiplying and giving off carbon dioxide (I think) which starts to fill the dough with bubbles – making it expand. These bubbles also make the dough easier to work.
Also, as an added bonus, the dough’s characteristics only really develop after this 20 minutes rest. Sometimes, it’ll look perfect when you get it out, then once its stood for 20 mins, it’s gone too dry. Remember the adage!
If the dough is too wet, (if it sticks to the hook or any part of the mixer or makes your hands a gooey mess, or if its shiny or slick in any way) then chuck in about a bowl’s worth more flour and mix for 5 more minutes. (You need to give it time.) Then re-assess where you are: perfect, too dry or too wet?
If the dough is too dry, you need to add maybe half a cup of water and mix for 5 minutes, then reassess similarly. Always remember, give it time to settle. And don’t panic, remember the adage.
With practise, you just know whether its good or not. Dough that’s a bit too wet is easier to shape, but harder to get into the oven (it tends to stick). Whereas dough that’s too dry is hard to work but safe as houses –it won’t stick to the peel at the critical moment.
Once the dough is perfect and rested, as long as you keep it covered, it’ll last all day – just keep beating the air out of it every hour and, if it looks too dry you can knead it with wet hands – that should be all the moisture it needs. Sometimes in the high summer you might find that the dough begins to get a bit tired – it goes a bit gooey and discoloured. (That means that the yeast has eaten too much of the starch in the flour – meaning that your dough is more yeast and yeast poo than starch and good stuff.) You can revive it by taking about three handsfull of the old dough, and throwing it in the mixer with some fresh flour and water.
I don’t think you can keep the dough overnight. Sometimes I’d store it in the cold room overnight, but it was always a bit too tired in the morning to be any good. It’s probably best, (though wasteful) to throw it out at the end of the day and make a fresh batch.
Pre-rolling the dough is controversial. I only ever did it on a Friday lunchtime when I knew we were going to get slammed. I’d make maybe 20 bases up, separated by grease proof paper and stack them somewhere to hand. They last a maximum of 20 minutes I reckon – after that, while they’re still edible, they don’t puff up in the oven and they discolour where they’ve been exposed to the air. They taste the same but they look a bit sad. I’d really only use the pre-rolled if I had more than say 6 open orders and Kirsty wasn’t on. (That girl is a genius!)
Technically, you can freeze dough and keep it for emergencies. In practise, it never works. It takes hours to defrost and you can’t microwave it. By the time you know you need the emergency dough, it’s too late. Better and quicker to make it from scratch and use the space to store ice lollies.
So there you go. The best dough in the world. It’s not hard. Just keep it simple. And remember the adage.