How to Make Pizza Dough from Scratch

Pizza Dough Balls
This article will walk you through the entire process of making fresh, restaurant quality pizza dough from scratch right at home. On top of that I have a killer recipe you can use (for free of course). Making your own pizza dough is a rewarding experience and when it goes right, it gives you a sense of accomplishment. I am going to share with you all the tricks I picked up during my twenty plus years of making pizzas and pizza dough.

Before we get started, please note that pizza dough is kind of tricky to make/ use. Humidity, heat and the amount of time you let it rise can all play a factor in how your batch pizza dough turns out. What works for me down here in Texas might not work so well in the arctic circle. Making pizza dough is a skill, an art and has some science involved as well so don’t get frustrated if it isn’t perfect the first time.

Equipment and Utensils

The first thing we need to do is make sure we have the tools and ingredients to do the job. First lets take inventory of our equipment we need. The main piece of equipment we are going to be using is a mixer. Yes, these are expensive but they are necessary. If you don’t have one, I bet you have a friend that does. Or if your looking to purchase one (I recommend you do) you can get it here. If you are looking to purchase a mixer somewhere other than Amazon be sure that it comes with all the attachments (a dough hook, flat beater, wire whip). For making dough we will be using the dough hook.

The second piece of equipment you will need is a dough box with a lid that will fit in your refrigerator. Hint: you can use a bowl and plastic wrap if you don’t have one. This container needs to be able to lay flat in your fridge. It will need to be large enough to allow for the dough to rise.

Another piece of equipment you are going to need is a kitchen scale. If you can find one that goes up to five pounds wonderful, if your scale only has onces no problem, we will just have to do some math. You will also need measuring cups and spoons, and a dough scraper/ chopper. So in review we will need:

Ingredients

Alright, now that we have our tools of the trade, we can move on to our ingredients. The recipe that we’re going to use is your basic pizza dough recipe and something very similar to what I used in my pizza shop. There are five ingredients: water, high gluten flour (I highly recommend high gluten flour), salt, olive oil and yeast. The following recipe is 1/16th of one full batch. I broke it down as small as I could keeping in mind we don’t want weird measurements 1/16th or 1/10th.

Pizza Dough Recipe

2 cups water @ 110 degrees
0.50 tablespoons oil (I use olive oil but you can use vegetable oil no problem)
0.75 tablespoons salt
0.25 teaspoon yeast
25 ounces flour high gluten flour

Ingredients

Water

The water you put into your dough can either make or break your batch of pizza dough. There are two things you need to pay attention to, volume and temperature. The volume of water needs to be correct or your pizza dough will be the dry (not enough water), or it will start to stretch itself when you pick it up (too much water). When you measure make sure you get it right to the line.

The temperature of the water is equally important to your pizza dough. Too hot and your pizza dough will rise, then rise some more, then continue rising until it has open your refrigerator door all by itself, not good. Too cold and the yeast will not activate, creating tough pizza dough you won’t be able to work with. When you’re running the water use the back of your hand, it should be warm on the back of your hand not hot.

Oil
Unless you’re an oil aficionado you want be able to tell what kind of oil you add to your dough mix. You can use olive oil, or vegetable oil they both do the same thing. The oil helps brown your pizza dough when baking in the oven. While oil type does not alter your recipe, oil volume will so make sure you get right up to the line.

Salt
Salt affects the activity of the yeast, oxygen and nutrients, as it gives off enzymes and other substances to the pizza dough mixture. In other words, the it regulates the rising process (the rising period it usually one hour but can vary with your location and temperature of the room you’re letting your dough rise).

Yeast
Yeast is probably the most important ingredient in your dough. It affects the flavor and overall workability of the pizza dough. To much and it might take over your kitchen like the blob and taste like you’re eating a 20 year old beer. Not enough and your dough won’t rise and will be impossible to stretch and taste bland.

Flour
High Gluten Flour! I understand there are people out there that are allergic to gluten, if you are one of these people obviously don’t use it. But if you can eat gluten, use high gluten flour. I’ve used traditional flour on five separate occasions and each time my dough was unuseable. Gluten has recoil and stretch properties, giving structure to your pizza dough. Bottom line, if you use regular flour, you will have a tough time stretching your dough ball into a pizza and if you’re lucky enough to get it stretched into a pizza it will have a gritty texture.

Procedure
Are we ready to make some pizza dough? Alright then! The first thing we are going to do is get our water ready. Again we are looking to be around 110*. Once you have your water measured out and ready to go, check to see if your mixing bowl is at room temperature (feel the bowl with the back of your hand, if it’s cold run it under warm water until it’s about room temperature or at least not cold to the touch). When your mixing bowl is ready dump in the water. Next we are going to add the yeast and salt. Mix everything up until everything dissolves.

Next we are going to add our oil, the oil obviously won’t dissolve but give it a good mix regardless. Once our dough water is mixed up (manually by hand) we are going to add the flour and start mixing with the dough hook. MAKE SURE YOUR MIXER IS ON A LOW SPEED! It should take between 5-7 minutes.

When your pizza dough is done mixing you should have on big dough ball. Take the dough hook out and set it aside. Flip the bowl over so you dough ball falls out. We are now going to cut and weigh your pizza dough.

The weight of each piece of dough will depend on what style and size of pizza you are making. Chicago style pizza requires a much thicker crust so you’re going to want to use a couple more ounces of pizza dough. New York style pizza is thin so you will want a lighter dough ball. We are going to make a traditional style pizza somewhere in between Chicago style and New York style.

A good rule of thumb that I follow is if you’re making a 16 inch pizza, use 16 ounces of dough. If you’re making a 12 inch pizza than use 12 ounces, and so on. This part of the pizza dough making process is not an exact science so feel free to experiment.

So now we have our dough weighed out and ready to be rolled up. This process is hard to put into words so here is a video to help explain.

Now that we have our dough balls rolled up we are ready to proof the dough (let the dough rise). We will need to put our dough into something that will have enough room for it to proof. You can use a plastic or metal container with a lid option 2 place your dough into Ziplock bags (if you are using Ziplock bags make sure there is enough room to let the dough proof).

Before we put our dough into the proof box (or bag) we need to give it a coat of oil (vegetable or olive oil, it doesn’t matter). Get a small bowl or container and add a little oil of your choice. Dip your hand in the oil and rub it all over your dough ball. Repeat until all of your dough balls are covered with a thin layer of oil.

The final step is to proof your dough. I proof my dough for one hour…unless we’re in the middle of summer, then I will refrigerate after 45 minutes. This is another step that could be affected by where you live (or at least where you are making your dough).

In extreme environments the heat and humidity will play a role in how much your dough rises. On a hot summer day refrigerate your dough a little early.  Cooler days, let your dough sit out another 15 minutes. If you’re unsure remember this, you can always take your dough out of the refrigerator and let it rise some more, you can’t make your pizza dough un-rise. So if you are not sure, go ahead and refrigerate.

That concludes our pizza dough making tutorial. You are on your way to becoming a certified pizza ninja. Use the comment section below if you have any questions or tips.

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