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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Recipe: Pizza Dough

Recipe: Pizza Dough

Any Last Requests...?

If I had to choose a last meal, a hot-from-the-oven Neapolitan style pizza would be my pick. Specifically, it would come from Don Antonio's or Keste in NYC, which I credit with being the World's best Pizza. Those who have dined with me at either location and witnessed the carnage first hand can attest to my nearly limitless capacity. 

And while it's impossible to perfectly replicate the magic of a 1,000+ degree Fahrenheit Pizza oven at home, this dough recipe and techniques from the Pastry Arts Program at The International Culinary Center produce an amazing homemade version.

Check out the recent blog post covering Pizza and Focaccia in culinary school, including more photos. 

For some additional tips on baking Bread, be sure to check out these helpful illustrations!

Neapolitan Style Pizza

Pizza Dough:

Yield: Two 10" Pizzas

  • Bread Flour: 355g (2.75 Cups)
  • Water: 240g (1 Cup)
  • Yeast*: 5g Fresh / 2.5g Active Dry (approximately 0.5 tsp)
  • Salt: 10g (1.75 tsp)
  • Cornmeal or Semolina Flour - for dusting baking surface

A note on ingredients: Fresh Yeast, Active Dry Yeast and Instant Yeast are not created equal. It takes twice as much Fresh Yeast to achieve the same leavening action as Active Dry Yeast. The following is helpful when adapting a recipe for different types of yeast.

If a recipe calls for Fresh Yeast, use 50% of that weight for Active Dry Yeast and 40% of that weight for Instant Yeast.

  • 10g Fresh Yeast = 5g Active Dry Yeast 4g Instant Yeast
  • 10g Active Dry Yeast = 8g Instant Yeast 20g Fresh Yeast
  • 10g Instant Yeast 25g Fresh Yeast 12.5g Active Dry Yeast


1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a Pizza / baking stone, place it in the oven and let it pre-heat as well. You can also use an inverted sheet pan. Cooking the Pizza on a baking stone or other pre-heated surface is best for consistent heat transfer.

2. Mix the flour, water, yeast and salt to combine with the paddle attachment. Do not over-mix or over-knead the dough.

Chef's Note: The gluten structure in the dough will develop further as the yeast ferments and through a series of proofs over time. Additional kneading of the dough will result in a tough crust.

3. Place the dough in an oiled (or Pam sprayed) bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and bulk proof the dough until doubled in size (approximately 1 hour).

4. Fold / de-gas the dough. At this point you can either place the dough on a sheet tray and refrigerate it overnight (wrapped in plastic), freeze it, or let it rest in the bowl for 15 minutes.

5. Divide the dough into two 300g pieces. Form the pieces into balls. Cover the balls with plastic wrap and let them proof until doubled in size (approximately 60 to 90 minutes).

6. On a cornmeal or semolina flour dusted surface, shape the balls into 10" discs, gently stretching the dough from the center and working outwards. Work slowly and gently, being careful not to tear the dough. Leave a slightly thicker area of dough on the edges for the crust. Place the discs on parchment lined sheet trays dusted with cornmeal or semolina flour.

7. Bake the crusts for 4 to 5 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy on the outside. The dough may inflate like a pita (it will deflate when removed from the oven). Remove the crusts from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack. As you remove the crusts from the oven, increase the temperature to the highest possible setting. Make sure that your oven is clean, as any debris is likely burn. Brush the warm crusts lightly with olive oil.  

Chef's Note: Pre-baking the crusts and sealing them with olive oil helps to create a better final product. Baking a raw dough covered with toppings is more likely to result in a soggy crust. The water in the dough cannot evaporate as easily when it is trapped under the toppings.

8. Place the crusts on a flat, cornmeal or semolina flour dusted surface that you can use to transfer the Pizzas to the oven. A piece of cardboard or an inverted sheet tray will work. 

9. Top the Pizzas. Be careful not to use too much sauce or high moisture content ingredients (e.g. mushrooms, fresh tomato slices, etc.). They may release a lot of water in the oven and result in a soggy crust.

Chef's Note: Certain ingredients, including fresh herbs like basil, should be added to a Pizza after it bakes. They will scorch in the heat of the oven.

10. Once the oven is at temperature, slide the Pizzas on to your pre-heated baking surface. Bake the Pizzas for 5 to 7 minutes, until any cheese is fully melted and the edge crust is browned and crisp. Given the heat of the oven, monitor the Pizzas closely so that they do not burn.

11. Remove the Pizzas from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack for a couple of minutes. Finish with fresh herbs and olive oil. Serve immediately.

Baked Pizza

Eating the Pizza

Eaten Pizza

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