Pizza Americana Dough

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Friday night at our house means pizza night. But it’s not delivery, it’s not DiGiorno, it’s homemade. Sure, making your own pizza may sound complicated but really it isn’t – thanks to Peter Reinhart and his awesome book American Pie. If you’re serious about perfecting your pizza, read this book. However, if you just want the CliffsNotes version (kinda like back in high school English), I’ve got you covered. Think of this post and the next few as your pizza primer. I’ll walk you through the steps, starting with the dough, so that you can start a weekly homemade pizza tradition at your house, too.

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h3. Pizza Americana Dough

Peter Reinhart in American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza

This dough reminds me of Mellow Mushroom, our favorite pizza place. It’s a breadlike crust – slightly thicker than a true thin and crispy pizza yet nowhere close to a deep dish pie. To me, it’s a happy medium.

  • scant 4 3/4 cups (20 3/4 ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
  • 5 tablespoons (1 3/4 ounces) whole wheat flour*
  • 3 tablespoons sugar or honey
  • 2 teaspoons table salt or 3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant or rapid rise yeast
  • 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil or solid vegetable shortening (I use olive oil)
  • 1 cup whole or low-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup room-temperature water (70 degrees F)

*I like to substitute 5 tablespoons (1 3/4 ounces) whole wheat flour for an equal amount of bread flour in this dough. As Reinhart suggests, substituting a small amount of whole wheat flour, up to 1 tablespoon per cup of flour, gives the dough a country-style quality which I prefer. But if you don’t, you can omit the whole wheat flour and add an additional 5 tablespoons of bread flour.

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1. Stir together all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer until combined. (No stand mixer? No problem – just mix with a wooden spoon and knead by hand.) Then, using the dough hook, mix on low speed for about 4 minutes, or until all the flour gathers to form a coarse ball. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then mix again on medium-low speed for an additional 2 minutes, or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and sticks just a little to the bottom. (I usually have to mix longer than 2 minutes.) If the dough is too soft and sticky to hold is shape, mix in more water by the tablespoonful; if it is too stiff or dry, mix in more water by the tablespoonful. (I usually have to add more flour.) The dough should pass the windowpane test.

2. Immediately divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. (I do 3.) Round each piece into a ball and brush or rub each ball with olive or vegetable oil. Place each ball inside its own zippered freezer bag. Let the balls sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, then put them in the refrigerator overnight or freeze any pieces you won’t be using the next day. (Or, if you are making the pizzas on the same day, let the dough balls sit at room temperature in the bags for 1 hour, remove them from the bags, punch them down, reshape them into balls, return them to the bags, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.)

3. The next day (or later the same day if refrigerated for only 2 hours), remove the balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan to roll them out to take off the chill and to relax the gluten. At this point, you can hold any balls you don’t want to use right away in the refrigerator for another day, or you can freeze them for up to 3 months.

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To be continued…next time on Flamingobear! In the meantime, go make your dough.

Related Posts:

Shaping and Baking Pizza

Crushed Tomato Sauce

Roman Pizza Dough

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