Always searching for the best pizza dough recipe, I stumbled on this recipe posted on the Fabulous Foods website, where blogger Cheri says that her friend, Mitch, the author of this recipe, claims to make the world's best pizza dough. With that kind of a recommendation, I gave it a try.
Pizza is a regional food. There are as many variations of pizza in this country as there are states. If you try to trace the origin of pizza in the U. S., you'll find a complicated trail; but my hubby's hometown, Trenton, New Jersey, is claimed by some to be the birthplace of the Tomato Pie. As my hubby will tell you, a Trenton tomato pie is superior to any other pizza anywhere in the world, and DeLorenzo's is the best of the best. I have neighbors from Chicago who would disagree (they pay big bucks to get deep dish pizza delivered to their door from the windy city).
But Guy is the one I live with. And I make pizza to please him, except, of course, when I make white pizza for myself. (No tried and true Trenton traditionalist would ever touch a pizza with anything other than tomatoes, cheese and traditional Italian toppings like sausage, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, anchovies and the like. Ham and pineapple pizza? No way, Jose -- at least not for Guy.) For Guy, memories of DeLorenzo's pizza are somehow imprinted with overlapping recollections of growing up. To alter any part of the formula would be changing his past. I can respect that, and I do.
Guy gives this recipe two thumbs up, way up. Since, in this household, we focus on thin-crust pizza, I can't comment on how this dough is if it's rolled out thick. But it's tender, light, crisp and flavorful when it's rolled out thin. And Guy is happy because it's "almost DeLorenzo's."
One more comment: if you're limiting yourself to non-rise pizza doughs, you'll never know the joy of tasting the full flavor of a risen dough cured overnight in the fridge. Do yourself a favor: try this one time and see if there isn't a difference. This dough is soft, supple and very easy to work with. What more could you want for making the best tomato pie?
Basic Pizza Dough
Adapted from fabulousfoods.com
Rating: 9 out of 10
INGREDIENTS: 3-1/2 cups bread flour (or part bread flour, part white whole wheat)
1 cup warm water (between 95 and 115F; it should feel comfortable on your wrist.)
1 packet active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
In small bowl, stir water and honey till honey dissolves. Sprinkle yeast over water; stir; let sit 5 minutes till it bubbles. Place 1-1/2 cups flour in work bowl of food processor with salt; pulse to combine. Pour yeast mixture over flour; pulse several times to mix. Add oil and pulse till incorporated. Add remaining flour and pulse till dough forms, adding more water or flour as needed to get the right consistency. You want a soft dough, but it shouldn't stick to the work bowl. Place the dough on a floured board and knead for about a minute to build the gluten. Place the dough in a greased bowl; turn to coat both sides; cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for about 45 minutes, or till doubled. (I usually put my dough in the microwave, turned off, of course, because it's a nice warm spot. Test for doubling by pushing two fingers into side of dough. If dent remains, dough has doubled.)
Punch your fist into the center of the dough and smack it around to deflate the bubbles.
Now you have some options:
1. Let the dough rise again now -- back to the microwave. The second rising will be shorter, maybe 25-30 minutes. Check the dough by pressing two fingers near the edge. If dent remains, dough has risen enough. Punch it down again and shape it. Put sauce and toppings on and bake.
2. Let the dough cure in the fridge -- separate it into 4 balls. Flatten to discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in coldest part of fridge (lower back). This will slow the yeast down so the dough won't over-rise in the fridge. You should be able to leave it there for a few days, but I usually take it out the second day and punch it down, then put it back, just to be sure it doesn't over-rise. You do not need to let it rise again when you take it out to use it, but bring it to room temperature before rolling it. It'll roll much more smoothly then. Note: Do not put the entire ball of dough back into the rising bowl into the fridge overnight. It will rise too quickly and your dough will not be good. You must flatten the individual balls of dough and put them in the back of the lower part of the fridge to get them cold quickly and slow down the yeast.
3. Freeze the dough for future use -- It'll be ok for at least a month. Just wrap it in plastic wrap, put it in a freezer bag, and freeze. When you're ready for it, take dough out, and bring it to room temperature before you try to roll it. That may take a few hours, so plan accordingly. And don't worry if it starts to rise again. When you're ready to put the sauce & toppings on, just punch it down first and then roll it to shape. Yeast dough is a funny thing: the more you handle it, the better it is.
Some more info: A rolling pin is the best way to get the dough rolled thin. Each of the 4 pieces should roll to a 10" - 12" crust. I was able to get four 12" pizzas, but it will depend on how thin you roll the dough. Put your sauce, cheese and toppings on and bake in a preheated oven on a preheated pizza stone. I like to place my pizzas on a circle of parchment paper on the pizza stone. And how hot is hot? I've experimented -- to get a crispy thin crust, first of all, don't overload the pizza with sauce and toppings. Make them thin, too. Preheat the oven to 550F, then turn down to 400F as soon as you put the pie in the oven. The crust should puff up quickly, and the center and the toppings should also cook quickly but not burn. This is the DeLorenzo way.