Simple Pizza Dough

My wood fired pizza oven

Friday in our house has always been pizza and movie night for as long as I can remember. Sometimes it is a takeaway from our fave pizza store with “chicken shop chips” from the charcoal bbq chicken place next door. But if I am home during the day and have the time, then I love to make them from scratch.

Set oven to about 350 degrees log

Pizza dough is surprisingly easy to make and while it does take a few hours of proving and resting, the actual time you will be actively making and cooking is maybe only half an hour. if you have a food mixer with a dough hook then kneading is no problem.

For years I have baked my pizza in just the regular home oven in the kitchen, only upgrading on my 50th birthday (thank you family) to a wood-fired oven, which takes more work, but makes the best possible pizza. This recipe works in both, just crank up the oven to maximum, and if you can get a pizza stone, which are relatively inexpensive all the better.

Making pizzas in the backyard for my birthday

Kneading

Kneading the dough is a paramount process in all breadmaking. It combines the ingredients evenly, and more importantly activates the gluten in the flour. This gluten protein holds the yeasty gas bubbles to then create the rise in the dough.

There are many techniques for kneading, the easiest is to use a mixer with a dough hook; Fast no effort, and even. However, it is easy to over-knead with a machine that can then break the gluten strands. Hand kneading can be done for mixes up to several kilos, are a great upper body workout, and a better way to get a ‘feel’ for how the dough is forming.

The process is easy enough, push the dough with the heel of your hand from the middle and away from you, while at the same time holding the rest of the dough with the other hand. fold back upon itself, turn and repeat. About five minutes is all that is needed ( no pun intended) for this recipe.

Note: There is also a ‘folding’ technique that can be used, but is really much better for dough mixes too soft to knead, such as those with a higher percentage of water.

I will make a kneading vid soon and will add it here for you to see the process.

“Knocking back”

You may have heard the term when discussing bread making, and it is a simple enough process. It is a short, quick kneading before dividing the dough into separate pieces and the second ‘proving’. But why do we do it?

Once the dough has proved, or rested for a while, the yeast bubbles become large, but not particularly uniform in either size or distribution within the dough. The idea of the ‘knockback’ is to even out these issues, for a better more even final product. As we still don’t want to overdo it, it is usually only a few turns before dividing and forming into balls for the second prove.

Stretching over rolling

When you first start out making your own, you can ‘cheat’ and roll out the dough with a rolling pin, rather than stretching. it is quick, easy, gets the job done, and is a method used by many commercial places. BUT It is not as good for the dough or crust as it flattens and bursts those tiny bubbles of gas from the yeast. This can result in a tough and disappointing pizza crust.

Stretching is a skill that comes with practice. and one worth learning as once you have it you will find it helps tremendously both with your pizza and with anyone watching you make them as you ‘look professional’.

I am no great expert on stretching pizzas, I don’t make them often enough to call myself that. But I do like doing it. It is something that can look really impressive if you do the famous spin and throw, and yes there is a valid reason for doing that. Generally, the big advantages of stretching over rolling are that the base will cook crispier on the outside while soft in the middle, also it creates that lip edge that will rise when cooking into the gorgeous crust we all love.

If you are brave and want to ‘throw your pizza’ as in toss into the air, have it spin and then catch. Go for it! It does help to make your pizza less irregular and more round, it also further stretches in a more even manner. But be aware it will also throw flour around your workspace, and in your hair as it spins.

Below is a short video from my YouTube channel on how I do it, I don’t throw this one deliberately to show that there is no great need.

Toppings

We all have our favourite toppings, and those we can not have; anchovies, olives, onion, seafood, hot sweetcorn, which cheese must be used, how the tomato base should be made or the infamous argument regarding pineapple.

My say on all this is simple, use what you have, and what you like, just don’t stress. Remember that pizza was for centuries a peasant dish made with kitchen scraps on a bit of leftover bread dough. Only when Queen Margarita realised that she and her husband, the King, were losing favour with the common people did she stoop to try, and in turn like a particular Neopolitan baker’s fare. Had he had a tin of pineapple chunks in juice to hand, perhaps there would be less discussion on this.

So in a nutshell, If you want and have it available add it; if you don’t leave it off.

A small pizza in my wood-fired oven, with the raised edge crust.

Simple Pizza dough

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Australian, British, Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword: bake, basic, bread, flour, oven, pizza, pizza dough, yeast
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Proving: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 6 Dinner plate sized pizzas
Calories: 533kcal
Author: VinceHomeMade
A great basic bread dough recipe perfectly suited for pizza making
Print Recipe

Equipment

  • 1 Can of Spray oil Olive if you can, canola or veg oil is fine
  • 1 set of metric scales
  • 1 pastry scraper
  • 1 Mixing bowl – Large If using a stand mixer, not required
  • 1 Stand mixer Optional, fit with a dough hook. If kneading by hand this is not required.
  • 1 Pizza oven Optional
  • 1 Ceramic pizza stone Optional
  • 1 Pizza Peel Optional
  • 1 Pizza Cutter

Ingredients

  • 800 g Plain flour Ideally a bread flour with 10% protein or higher
  • 440 g Water Room temp from the tap is fine,
  • 1 sachet Dried Yeast – usually 7g or about a teaspoon
  • 30 g Olive Oil
  • 10 g Salt
  • 5 g Sugar Optional if yeast is old, or baking in a regular domestic oven, that can not get to high temperatures

Dusting flour – for the final stretching

  • 200 g Plain flour
  • 50 g Coarse Semolina or Polenta

Instructions

  • Measure out 40g of the water and add the yeast, allow it to dissolve and 'activate'. Add the sugar if making your pizzas on a cold day, or if using a standard domestic oven.
    If not bubbling after 15 minutes discard and repeat.
    440 g Water, 1 sachet Dried Yeast – usually 7g or about a teaspoon, 5 g Sugar
  • Measure out remaining ingredients including the remaining 400g of water and combine with the yeast mix in a large mixing bowl, or in your stand mixer bowl. This will be a very lumpy and sticky mix at first but will come together as you mix and knead.
    800 g Plain flour, 30 g Olive Oil, 10 g Salt
  • Knead for about 5 minutes until a smooth dough forms.
    Be mindful not to over-knead.
  • Lightly spray the top of the dough and cover with clear plastic wrap. Allow to prove for at least one hour or until doubles in size.
  • Remove dough from the bowl and "knock back" – which means lightly stretch and knead for a minute to remove the large air bubbles.
  • Separate the dough into 6 even lumps, roughly 215g each. Roll into balls and place on a lightly oiled tray. Spray the top of the dough and cover for a further hour.
  • Mix the semolina/polenta and the plain flour to use for dusting your work surface.
    The combination allows the raw pizza to slide while being stretched, move both on and off the peel easily and tastes better than just flour alone.
  • Ensure the oven is preheated to its hottest, around 350 to 400°C is ideal.
  • Prepare your pizza toppings of choice and have them ready to use. I like to have the sauce in a bottle, and the rest in bowls, just like you see in the pizza store.
  • Onto the floured surface, place one of the dough balls and begin to shape.
    Start by flattening with fingertips, then lightly grip and stretch one side as you push away the other side with the side of your hand. Turn the dough slightly and repeat. If you stay away from the edge with either hand you will both stretch the dough and create the all-important edge crust. Just be careful to not overstretch or you will put a hole in your pizza.
  • Once stretched to the desired size, add your prefered toppings and use the peel to slide into the oven.
    A hot oven will cook the pizza in under 2 minutes! A regular domestic oven only 4 to 5 minutes. You may need to turn the pizza as it cooks, so do not walk away, look at phones or be distracted in any other way!
  • Check the underside is cooked by gently lifting the edge, and remove from the oven using the peel.
  • Cut into 8 slices and serve immediately

Notes

Note the Nutrition label is for the pizza base only,  any toppings will change these details
Tried this recipe?Please mention @vincehomemade or tag #wprecipemaker

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Simple Pizza dough
Serving Size
 
215 g
Amount per Serving
Calories
533
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
6
g
9
%
Saturated Fat
 
1
g
6
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
4
g
Sodium
 
652
mg
28
%
Potassium
 
143
mg
4
%
Carbohydrates
 
103
g
34
%
Fiber
 
4
g
17
%
Sugar
 
1
g
1
%
Protein
 
14
g
28
%
Calcium
 
23
mg
2
%
Iron
 
6
mg
33
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Published by VinceHomeMade

With a decade of experience in the commercial kitchens of London and more than three times that cooking with my family, I am now going to share what I have learned along the way. Whether it's a recipe for shortcrust pastry; a pro-tip on buying or using chef's knives; a review of a new ingredient or a new take on an old one. It will be all here as I start this blog journey, in text, pictures and video links to my Instagram and YouTube page. If you would like to help me on this journey perhaps you would click on the link to "Buy me a coffee"

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