There are many ways for making pizza dough. I developed this over time starting with the official recipe for the “pizza Napoletana”, which is the one with a nice crunchy thick raised border. You can find many videos on the internet showing how to do it.
I use mainly my “Fornetto” which is an outdoor wood oven and works great. And btw. is an Australian invention so Aussies should not have too much trouble finding it. Of course, a brick oven is better, but this is more than good enough.
Ovens with clay, bricks, and the like must warm up well so take some time, don’t hurry it up. My Fornetto takes about 1,5h to heat up properly. The heat should be high and even, around 300celsius are already good in my opinion but 350c or more is better. It is difficult to get to the 90 seconds pizza at home, in my fornetto it takes 3-4 minutes.
Another thing: I use on-purpose little salt and yeast. Makes it lighter and much easier to digest, this is not a pizza where you drink all night afterward and is good for your health on top.
Oh, and of course my recipe is in grams and liters. Sorry, but if you need imperial or cups you will have to convert.
- This is for 4 pizzas of about 400g each, which is a good size
- 900g to 1kg flour
- 500cc lukewarm water
- 20g salt
- 5-7g yeast (how well the dough rises depends on the weather, humidity, temperature but around 7g works all the time). I use fresh but dried works as well. No self-raising flour, no chemicals.
- 1spoon olive oil plus more to pinsel the dough
The flour mix is important. You must use some strong flour i.e. one with a high protein content to ensure that the dough works. I use 50% Manitoba, plus 25% Kamut (gives a nice yellow color, excellent taste, and a crisp crust), 25% spelled or normal wheat flour. You can experiment with whole flour and other stuff, but keep a strong wheat flour as a base
- I dissolve the yeast in a cup with some lukewarm water and a spoon of sugar and let it for a few minutes while I prepare the rest
- The mix is made starting with water. Pour water into a suitable container, add the water with the yeast, a spoon of oil, then add gradually flour. Add salt when the dough starts to form i.e. starts to get a bit “creamy”. Keep adding the flour and working it until you get a soft, flexible dough. It should not be sticky and when pressing with a finger it should “come back” by itself.
- I do it by hand as above or use a mixer with a hook and a rotating bowl. I guess a KitchenAid is also ok but I am not an expert. It is important that the dough is “worked” for some time, i.e. pulled and faulted, if unsure mix in the mixer briefly but then work it longer by hand
- Transfer to a kitchen top board or similar. Keep working the dough with your hands stretching and falting it for another 5-10 minutes, adding flour if it sticks. You want a very elastic, yet not “hard” dough. Make a ball, pinsel with oil to avoid it making a crust. Cover and let rise somewhere out of drafts for 2 hours or until it doubles in size
- Now cut in 4 parts, each 350-400g, work them very lightly to a little ball, pinsel with oil, and cover again. These are the “panetti”. They have not worked again otherwise they loose volume. Let rise for another 6-8 hours
- The dough can raise for longer times if cooled or refrigerated. I normally however start in the morning with it, make the panetti over lunch, and get it ready for dinner. It is easier
- To prepare the pizza, take one of the panetti gently, sprinkle with flour and spread it across the worktop or a wooden board rotating it with the hands, or throw it from one hand over to the other while rotating it (difficult to explain, there are videos on the internet). Do not use a pin roller, and do not press on the border with the fingers (otherwise you don’t get the raised border). You want it thin in the middle, less than 0,5cm, and thicker at the border, 1cm or so.
- Do not overload the pizza with too much stuff on top, the traditional Napoletana had only tomato and mozzarella and maybe basil I believe. I use my tomato sauce with salt, pepper, oregano, and olive oil added to it. Also, use a good mozzarella that does not get too watery. I can’t find good buffalo Mozzarella over here and to be honest also in Italy they use mostly mozzarella from cow milk. Always sprinkle plenty of oregano on top of the pizza. You can add a little olive oil after cooking.
- In a brick wood oven, it might cook in a couple of minutes. I think 3-5 min is more realistic at home. In winter, when using the kitchen oven, it takes about 10-15m at 230c. In this case, you should cook first the base with the tomato sauce for half the time, then add the rest (mozzarella, ham, olives, whatever) and finish cooking it. The pizza is ready when crunchy and with the typical “leopard skin” dark patches on the bottom, which however don’t happen easily in an electric oven so don’t worry, crunchy and of nice gold color is good to go!