If you’ve gone to the effort of owning your own pizza oven then it’s your duty to ensure the pizzas you’re cooking do it justice and that all starts with using the best ingredients. After that it’s all about using the best techniques and that starts with how you make your dough and we highly recommend a slow proof pizza dough .
What is slow proof pizza dough?
Proofing is when you let your dough rise, allowing the yeast to do it’s thing and ferment adding flavor and producing carbon dioxide which gives your cooked pizza dough a light and bubbly texture.
Whilst it’s possible to make a dough in a couple of hours by including a higher proportion of yeast in your recipe, you run the risk of a dense dough which is flat and hard to work with, producing inferior pizza. Yes, they’re edible but you can do so much better by slowing down the fermentation process, and in this recipe we’re talking about at least 18 hours.
A slow proof will give the yeast more time to process the starch and sugars in the yeast, producing more CO2 which will create a more complex structure, texture, and most importantly taste. You will also find that your dough is easier to stretch. Good things definitely do come to those who wait and this is the best recipe we’ve found and is from the book ‘Artisan Pizza – To Make Perfectly At Home‘.
These quantities will make 640g of dough which is enough for four 160g pizzas:
- 250ml lukewarm (71˚F/22˚C) water
- 0.2g dry yeast (Get a 7g pack of yeast and divide in half 5 times using a plastic card)
- 1 dessertspoon (10ml/0.4 fl oz) olive oil.
- 380g ’00’ flour
- 10g salt
Method Part 1 – Making the dough
This slow proof pizza dough recipe will take about 16-18 hours to develop in an ambient temperature of 20-23˚C / 68-74˚F but will take longer in lower temperatures. With this in mind it’s best to make this in the evening for use the following day.
- In a bowl or jug, measure out the water and add the yeast. Stir or whisk in, then add the olive oil.
- Place the flour and salt in a large, 2-litre ceramic bowl and combine the ingredients with your fingertips.
- Pour the liquid into the flour in a few stages, mixing each time with stiff fingers. (Note: use left hand for pouring water if you are right-handed.)
- Work lightly, using only your fingers to draw the dough together and mop up all the flour. Avoid getting dough on the palm of your hand. Knead the dough a little with your knuckles.
- Once the ingredients have roughly combined you can rest the dough. This gives the flour time to absorb the water and will make the dough easier to knead.
- After 15 minutes, use your fingers and knuckles to knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Dipping your fingers in water will help keep the dough from sticking to your fingers while you do this.
- Once kneaded, cover the bowl with clingfilm or a damp cloth and leave it to sit for 1 hour.
- With a lightly oiled hand this time, fold the dough by drawing the four edges consecutively into the centre, and then pressing down on them. With the shape of your hands, form a large ball and then turn the mass over. Brush a bit more olive oil on top and cover the bowl again to store, making sure it’s airtight.
- Leave the dough in an ambient temperature of 20-23˚C and in 16-18 hours, your dough will be ready to use. If the temperature is colder (15-18˚C) it will take a little longer
Method Part 2 – Shaping the dough balls
In this recipe we bulk ferment in the first stage which takes 16-18 hours and then we knock the air out and shape into the balls which removes large bubbles, creating smaller bubbles which add to a great texture as well as distributing the excess sugars to the yeast to give it another go at processing them.
- Tip the dough onto a floured surface and divide the developed dough mass into equal pieces with a dough cutter. Our dough recipe makes 640g, so that means dividing it by 4. Alternatively, you can weigh your balls on a set of scales.
- Knock back the dough pieces by rolling them in a circle on a table until they form tight balls. When you do this, keep a tight grip around the edges of the ball with your fingertips while applying some pressure from the palm of your hand on top. You may want to practise, but do not overdo the shaping of each ball, as you will stress and tear the dough.
- Place these on a floured surface in an airtight container or in a deep baking tray. If using a tray, drape a dampened tea towel over it, but be sure to tuck the edges of the cloth under the tray, so the rising dough does not stick to the sagging cloth.
At normal temperatures (18˚C / 65˚F) these balls will take up to 2 hours to prove. In a warm kitchen (24˚C / 75 ˚F), 1 hour will be enough. Once this has happened you are ready to make your pizza bases with the best tasting dough you’ve ever made.