Authentic Italian Pizza Dough
I absolutely adore pizza. It has to be my all time favourite Sunday night dinner. And with my favourite neighbours having just built a woodfired pizza oven, this is only going to become an ongoing event.
After trying many different recipes to get that perfect Italian pizza base, this one is my all time favourite. It will produce those lovely big bubbles in the centre, and a light but chewy pizza base. There are a few easy tricks to it, including resting the dough after you've shaped it, and baking the dough with a tray of water in the oven.
If you try this one, and think you have a better recipe, let me know! I'm always on the hunt for the best pizza dough recipe.
Italian Pizza Base
(makes 3 pizzas worth, but you can freeze the extra dough if you want)
- 1 1/2c lukewarm water
- active yeast powder
- 2t olive oil
- 2t salt
- 500g flour (about 4 cups, but try and weigh it if you can - accuracy is everything when it comes to bread)
In a big bowl or bread machine sprinkle the yeast powder over the water, and give it a quick stir. Leave for 5 minutes to get all frothy, while you measure out your flour.
Once the yeast mixture looks cloudy and frothy, add the oil first, then the flour and salt. Stir until it the dough comes together, and then get your hands in there and knead for 10 minutes. Alternatively use a bread machine or strong standing mixer to do this for you.
Cover the bowl with glad wrap and let it sit for 1 1/2 - 2 hours to rise. Try and give it the full 2 hours if possible. But if you're short on time you can cut this down to 1 hour by putting the bowl in a cold oven and placing a tray of just boiled water underneath it. Make sure you shut the door though.
Once the dough is doubled in size, give a good, solid punch to the middle of the bowl to knock down the dough. Pull it out of the bowl, and squeeze out any remaining big bubbles. Cut the dough into 3 equal portions.
Roll each piece into a ball by gently bringing the top layer of the dough down and under to the bottom, and gently squeezing at the bottom to pinch it in place. Keep doing this until you have a tight, smooth outer layer of dough, and a nice round shape.
Leave the balls of dough on the bench for another hour if possible (but at least 15 minutes if you're pressed for time) to let them get all soft and elastic.
While the dough is resting, heat the oven to 220 C. You'll need at least 20 minutes to get the oven and your pizza stone hot right through. Make sure you've removed the pizza dough from the oven before turning it on! Also, if you were using the tray of water to help the dough rise, leave it in. The steam will help your pizza crisp up nicely. Or just throw a couple of ice cubes into the bottom of the oven when you put the pizza in.
Prep your pizza topping while you're waiting for the oven to heat up.
When you're all ready, roll out the dough into rounds which are no more than 5mm thick.Try for 2-3mm if possible. To get it that little bit thinner, once it's been rolled out I'll often pick up up, and stretch it out by hand, focussing on the outer edges (the middle tends to stretch out easily - it's the outer edges which tend to be too thick).
Pull the pizza stone out of the oven, and place your stretched pizza base onto it. Top with your preferred pizza topping.
Always remember to season the pizza with salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil over it before popping it in the oven f
or about 15 minutes until the cheese has melted and the base is golden brown and puffed up around the edges.