Thursday, February 02, 2017

Pizza Quest: 50/50 Hybrid Pizza Dough (Fresh or Frozen)

I have YET to find a pizza dough that meets my demands: it should provide a stable foundation for the sauce and cheese, not be flimsy but be equally chewy on the end, and crisp over the entire bottom.

I've tried KAF's recipe, the recipe in Sarah Owens' Sourdough Book, and numerous others, then MacGuyvered my versions thereof, and STILL!, I am not pleased. I want my crust to be as impressive as ones I've eaten at restaurants.

Within my family, one particular aunt was well known for her pizza (and being a bit of a trouble-maker, too), the recipe card of which is provided in this post--but much like other recipe cards from the family, there's a LOT of data missing. 

What to do? I like certainty, and in baking, measurements are vital for overall success.

Aunt Connie's recipe involved 6 cups of flour, so I decided to Google "pizza recipe, 6 cups of flour," and found Tyler Florence's recipe, and I am using that as a jumping off point for what will be the next pizza experiment.  

Full disclosure: My recipe uses 5 cups of flour--I've made this recipe perhaps 3-4 times thus far, and the total flour (including what is in the levain, stops at 5. But, again, if your sourdough starter is very stiff, you'd probably use less, and if yours is watery, you'd use more. Ideally we are shooting for a supple, smooth, somewhat tacky but not sticky dough.  I know I mention this further down in the recipe/blog post, and it's indicated in red, but I can't stress this enough about the flour!

Between Aunt Connie's recipe and Tyler Florence's recipe, plus my own preference/need for sourdough, I MacGuyvered the following recipe, which I hope will end this quest, leaving me with a reliable pizza dough recipe to return to, time and time again.

My recipe is a hybrid of a traditional fresh dough and a sourdough, so I can enjoy aspects of both in one dough.

This coming weekend, I will mix up a batch, and when I divide the dough, I plan on using 1/2 of it fresh, and then the following week or so, thaw out the remaining dough and see how that works. 

But for now, I present my 50/50 Hybrid Pizza Dough. If you play along at home, please leave me a comment and let me know how it works for you.


Step 1:
1 C unfed starter
1 C APF or “00” flour 
1 C tepid water

Note: In subsequent batches, I have used KAF Sprouted Wheat Flour in the levain (using "00" in the remainder of the dough!) with wonderful results. I might try spelt in my next batch

Mix well and let sit 8-12 hours (or overnight if kitchen is cool).

Step 2:
Once levain has some bubbles/activity, add & dissolve:

7 gm (or 1 packet) Dry yeast
7 gm (1 tsp) Sugar

Let sit for 10 minutes.

Step 3:
Then add these ingredients and mix well:

2 T Olive Oil
2 eggs

Step 4:
Start to mix in the remaining 4 Cups of flour, mixing it in ½ cup at a time. Once you have added 3.5 cups of flour, let the dough rest 30 minutes. 

FURTHER REFINEMENT:  I've made this recipe several times now, and despite the two recipes I used as my guideline, this recipe, MY RECIPE only requires FIVE CUPS FLOUR TOTAL (versus 6 cups the other two recipes require)-- this includes the flour and 50% in the sourdough starter.

If your starter is particularly loose/wet, you might need to tinker with a bit more flour. YMMV. I stir in, then gradually KNEAD IN the flour as I go--so I don't dump all four cups all "in one go." The dough should come together, be somewhat tacky (but not sticking to your hands), and be "supple," not stiff.  
Work into the dough 2 tsp (14 gm) of salt, and remainder of the flour. As you knead, dough should be elastic, not sticky but not stiff. If you find that 3.5 cups is sufficient, don’t add the additional ½ cup of flour. YMMV.   Dough should be supple and very smooth, yet not overly sticky (I spray with olive oil Pam if it's a bit too tacky).


If you plan on using this FRESH: Let the dough sit in a warm spot until it has doubled in size. Timing will be dependent on how warm your kitchen is, if you have a proof box, etc. The time can range from an hour or more. Eyeball the dough. 
FURTHER REFINEMENT: I found that this dough works REALLY REALLY well if you let it sit a few days in the fridge for a slow, cold bulk fermentation.  I have found the ideal time is 4-5 days in the fridge.
ADDITIONALLY: Even though this is perfectly good enough to be baked off directly from the refrigerator, I have found that the dough responds much better, if I were to remove it from the fridge, do a pre-shape, and let it rest for a couple hours, before doing the final shape, dress it with toppings and bake it off. I found that the overall crust is good and I get the desired bubbles in the cornicione that I like.
If you plan on FREEZING this dough: Before letting dough rise and ferment, divide the dough into two balls, and place on a parchment lined dish and put in freezer until frozen—then transfer frozen dough into separate zip lock bags.  

To use FROZEN DOUGH: If you are planning ahead, take the dough out of the freezer 5-6 days before you anticipate needing it. This will accommodate thaw time and the 4-5 day bulk ferment in fridge.  If you want to use it the same day you take it out of freezer, early in the morning, take the dough out of the zip lock bag, and place in an oiled, covered bowl and leave in a warm spot to thaw and ferment all day. 

ETA (3/27/17) Now for the elusive details of temp & time for baking:

I preheat my oven (electric) and pizza stone (which is set on the bottom rack) to 500 F, while doing the final shape (on parchment because I do have trust issues!), and once the oven comes to temp, I then "dock" the inner part of the pie (not the cornicione/crust) with a fork--this keeps it from poofing too much while baking. I dress the pie and place on pizza stone for roughly 4-5 minutes, turning it 180 degrees once, and bake for another 4-5 minutes. I then turn the broiler on, and put the pie on top rack, and let it sit under the broiler (waiting for it to get up to temp) for about 3-4 minutes, watching it to make sure it doesn't burn, and turn it 180 degrees and give it a few minutes more, watching carefully so it doesn't scorch.

Now for the recipes I've referenced above: 



2 packages active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees F.)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for bowl


In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and water and stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, 5 to 10 minutes.

If you're using a stand mixer, combine the salt and flour to the bowl and pulse a few times to mix. Add the yeast mixture, at the lowest speed, until the flour incorporates. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough gathers into a ball. This should take about 2 minutes. Add the olive oil and pulse a few more times. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Get a feel for the dough as you're making it by squeezing a small amount together between your thumb and fingers. If it's crumbly, add more water, if it's sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over itself a few times, kneading until it's smooth and elastic.

If you're making the dough by hand, add the yeast mixture to a large bowl and stir in the salt and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then begin stirring in the flour. When the mixture becomes too stiff to stir with a spoon, knead in the rest of the flour by hand, adding just enough so that the dough is soft but not too sticky. As you work, squeeze a small amount of dough together between your thumb and fingers. If it's crumbly, add more water; if it's sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Form the dough into a round and put it into a lightly oiled bowl, turning it over to coat the dough entirely with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot (i.e., over a gas pilot light) until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

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