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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Danny's Pizza Dough

    Pizza is one of my favorite things to eat.  It is also one of the most versatile foods in the world. The endless possibilities for topping makes it appealing to everyone because it can be made to suit your taste.
   The variations don't end at the toppings you can add to your pizza.  All around the world people enjoy pizza with different crusts, bases and breads. You can make a quick pizza on a baguette or crusty bread, on a pita, or on your favorite dough.  Some people like a thick crust with many toppings and some enjoy a thin crust with a few toppings.
I am definitely one of the people who enjoy a nice thin crust pizza.  Probably the most famous pizza worldwide is the Neopolitan style thin crust base which is usually fired in a wood oven and has a wonderful crispy and chewy texture.
   I have made many types of dough in my life but this recipe I have developed through many hours of experimentation is by far my favorite. It is also one of my best culinary achievements. You may say "culinary achievement"?.... YES! I believe when you work hard at something to get it just the way you like it, it is indeed an achievement.
   Using 00 flour for its fine milled smoothness paired with bread flour for its gluten developing  properties gives this dough a soft , silky texture with great stretchability. It is delicate, easy to work with and results in the closest thing I can compare to that wonderful wood fired pizzeria style pizza, that you can prepare in your home.
   You can choose to make this in your oven with or without a pizza stone and will obtain great results either way.  The combination of flours and the mixing process should be closely followed as well as overnight resting to achieve the greatest results possible.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as I post this from my heart, to your table.

3 1/2 cups 00 flour (double zero)
1/2 cup bread flour
1 1/2 cups plus 3 Tablespoons warm water
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry active yeast
(Please be as precise as possible when measuring all ingredients.)

Add the yeast to the warm water and allow it to sit for 10 minutes until it begins to foam.
Using a stand mixer, add both types of flour and the salt to the bowl.
Once water and yeast is ready turn mixer on low speed and slowly add the water/yeast mixture.
Mix on low speed for 2 minutes until a ball is formed.
Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
Now mix the dough on medium speed for 5 minutes then reduce to low speed and mix an additional 2 minutes.
Place the dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise for 2 hours at room temperature. 
After 2 hours, punch the dough down, form a ball with your hands and then cut the dough into 4 equal pieces.
Once you cut the dough in pieces, gently form each piece into a ball. Stretch the top of the ball over the rest of the ball creating an outer layer.  Pinch this layer on the bottom of the ball and place it seam down in a floured container and sprinkle with more flour on top.
Dust dough balls with flour, cover and place in the refrigerator over night. This allows the dough to develop nice flavor and texture.  You will find the dough balls to be soft and light.
Remove the dough balls from the fridge 1 hour before you plan to use them.  This will allow them to become elastic and more stretchable.
On a floured surface, gently press down on the ball and pat it into a small circle.

If you are comfortable stretching the dough by hand it will result in a lighter and more bubbly crust  but a rolling pin can be used to roll the dough into about a 12 inch crust at about 1/4 inch thickness.
Your dough is now ready to use.  Feel free to top it with any ingredients you like to make your favorite pizza.
The result is a light, crispy, chewy pizza dough worthy of the best wood fired ovens in Napoli.  The dough browns nicely with wonderful bubbled air pockets that give the pizza a nice crunch and texture to each bite.
If you have a pizza stone feel free to use it, otherwise just place your dough on a pizza pan and bake it as you would any regular pizza.
The dough also stays nice and thin and slightly puffs up around the edges where there is no sauce or toppings. Enjoy !


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