I have decided to start my blog with what I believe is the most loved Italian food in the world: Pizza!
Surprisingly, when it comes to homemade dough, even many Italians have no idea how to proceed, so I thought this is a good starting point for my blog.
Making your own dough is actually a very simple process, but there are many many varieties depending on what you want to make from your dough.
In this post I will explain how to prepare the dough to make homemade pizza or focaccia with electric or gas oven (the kind of ovens you commonly find in your home kitchen).
In a future post I will explain how to make dough for wood fire oven which requires some more steps and more particular selection of the ingredients.
Ingredients (usually enough for 2/3 people)
- 450 g of flour.
Ideally you should use Strong Flour, this is a kind of flour that is higher in gluten and will allow you a longer growing time, and a more elastic and softer dough, but if you can’t find it easily use general purpose flour, I have used it for years and I never had a guest complaining about my pizza
- 250 ml of water
- 10 g of olive oil (a table spoon)
- 10 g of dried yeast (a tea spoon and a half)
- 8 g of sugar (a tea spoon): this ingredient is very important to trigger the yeast, especially the dried one that is the most practical one but the least efficient
- 12 g of salt finely granulated (a tea spoon and a half)
In the picture above you can have a good idea of all you might need to prepare the dough; let’s list them:
- A flat, hard and steady surface to work on: this might sound obvious but in the past I had to prepare dough in some improbable places (my Pizza is always in demand!) and it has not been a pleasant experience, so make sure you start with the right foot at least at the beginning
- A big bowl
- A container for the water
- A container for the flour
- A weighing scale (to measure at least the flour)
- A small cup for the olive oil
- 3 small bowls, one for each of the remaining ingredients
- one tea spoon to quickly measure the small ingredients
My first suggestion is to prepare all the ingredients and organize them on the working surface in a way that they can all be easily reached. When you will start kneading your hands will get pretty dirty and sticky and you will not want to wander around your kitchen opening cupboards and looking for things.
Watch the video below to have an idea how to proceed and read below the detailed instructions.
Let’s start putting the flour into the big bowl and creating a small hollow in the middle.
Mix yeast and sugar in a small bowl and put them in the hollow you have made in the flour.
At this point you can add the water (best if pre warmed at about 35 degrees Celsius, this is not essential but will improve the result and make the growth faster and the dough softer, just make sure that the water is not cold or boiling, both these conditions will inhibit your yeast). While adding the water make sure that you start mixing it with the flour using your free hand and making small circles with your finger while pouring the water.
At this point, always with the same hand you were using to mix the water and the flour, start kneading in the bowl, opening your hand grabbing as much dough you can and than closing your fist and twisting while pushing down, then collecting flour from the sides and squashing the dough down with your fist and repeat. It might sound difficult but it is a very natural movement and you will quickly master it, it is more difficult to explain it than doing it.
In the short video below you can see how it is done.
When the dough begins to become compact and all the flour is absorbed you can add the olive oil.
Keep kneading until the dough becomes smooth and then sprinkle some flour on the work surface you are planning to use for the “real” kneading.
I call this phase the “real” kneading because the dough needs a lot of work in order to really become soft and ready to raise. This phase is actually the one that makes the difference between a mediocre dough and an excellent one.
Once the dough is on the work surface hold with one hand the tip closer to you and with the other hand push down and forward the rest of the dough. The effect should be that it stretches. At that point roll the dough back, forward and back to you again turn it 90 degrees and repeat. Once again this is harder to explain than actually doing it. See this short video to better understand:
When the dough is elastic and becomes shiny, it is time to add the salt. Do it in two steps, add half and knead then add the second half and knead again.
Do not add the salt too early because it tends to inhibit the yeast so make sure to knead the dough well before adding the salt.
Overall a good dough will need about 20 minutes of kneading, a good workout and if you are making bigger quantities you can skip the gym for the day 🙂
When the dough is shiny again and you cannot feel any salt grains you are ready to turn it into a ball and place it back in the bowl.
Cover with a wet cloth and leave it to rest for 1 hour or two.
The growing time really depends on the gluten quantity your flour has and on the temperature of the room.
In general 1 to 2 hours are ok for any kind of flour, but exceeding 2 hours with a weak flour can lead to overgrowing the dough and wasting it (you will know when this has happened because the dough becomes sticky and no more ‘workable’).
The higher the gluten in the flour the longer you can grow the dough. Longer grown dough usually produces softer baked products.
Stay tuned for my upcoming posts, we will talk about how to make and bake Pizza, Focaccia Pugliese and more.
Ciao a tutti, a presto !