7 Key Things to Consider When Making Pizza Dough…

Making groovy pizza dough from scratch is an art form that requires attention to detail and a solid understanding of the key ingredients and techniques involved. There’s certain things that you’ll need to consider before even thinking about things like pizza sauce or toppings.

Here we cover these key considerations that will help you master the art of pizza dough-making. So get ready to elevate your homemade pizza game to new heights… 

What Style of Pizza Do I Want?

Before diving into the dough-making process, it’s crucial to decide what style of pizza you want to create. Are you aiming for a thin and crispy Neapolitan-style pizza or a slightly thicker, chewier New York-style crust? Or a much thicker pan-style pizza like the Detroit or Sicilian? The style of pizza you desire will dictate the characteristics of your dough, including its hydration level, how long to ferment for, and texture.

Time 

The concept of time plays a key role in pizza dough fermentation and the final cook of your pizza. Before anything else, consider how much time you have available for dough preparation and especially fermentation. Longer fermentation times allow for more flavour development, resulting in a tastier crust. If you’re short on time, you may need to opt for a shorter fermentation period, which will give a quicker but less complex tasting dough. When it comes to cooking your pizza, depending on the temperature of your oven and the style of pizza you’re going for, you might be looking at anywhere from 90 seconds to 25 minutes.

Temperature

Different pizza styles require specific baking temperatures. For example, Neapolitan pizzas traditionally cook at high temperatures, around 425°C / 800°F for a short time, resulting in a blistered, charred crust. On the other hand, New York-style pizzas are typically baked at lower temperatures, around 260°C / 500°F, for a longer duration, resulting in a golden and slightly chewy crust. Understanding your oven’s capabilities but also temperature generally when it comes to pizza, will help you to make the style of pizza you want to achieve.

Flour 

The choice of flour has a significant impact on the texture and flavour of your pizza dough. Factors to consider include the fineness, strength, and protein content of the flour. Finer flours, such as Tipo 00 flour, result in a smoother texture, while coarser flours add a rustic touch. Strong flours, high in protein, create a more elastic dough, ideal for stretching and achieving a chewy crust. Lower protein flours, such as all-purpose flour, produce a softer crust.

The protein content of the flour also affects fermentation time. Higher protein flours require longer fermentation periods to develop gluten and enhance flavour. Adjusting the fermentation time according to the flour’s characteristics will ensure optimal results.

Water 

Water is a crucial component of pizza dough, affecting its hydration level and the resulting texture. The amount of water you use determines the dough’s consistency and how easy it is to handle. Generally, a higher hydration level creates a lighter, airier crust, while a lower hydration level produces a denser, chewier crust. Experiment with different hydration levels to find the texture that suits your preferences. Additionally, focusing on water temperature is essential during dough preparation if you want maximum control over how the dough turns out. Lukewarm water, around 40°C / 105°F, is typically used to activate / dissolve the yeast (but there’s a formula you can use based on your room temperature, if you’re really serious about this pizza stuff!)

Yeast 

Yeast is responsible for leavening the dough and creating those bubbly air pockets within the crust. The options when it comes to yeast used in pizza dough are fresh yeast,  active dried yeast, or instant yeast (unless you’re using natural yeast, a.k.a. sourdough). When working with yeast, it’s crucial to follow the recommended measurements and activation method, depending on the type you’re using.  Properly activated yeast will contribute to a well-risen and flavourful crust. If you prefer a longer fermentation process, you can opt for a smaller amount of yeast and a longer rising time. This will result in a more developed flavour profile and a slightly tangy taste. If you need pizza quickly, use more yeast.

Salt 

Salt not only adds flavour to your pizza dough but also plays a vital role in controlling fermentation and gluten development. It helps regulate yeast activity, preventing the dough from over-fermenting and producing a dense crust. Additionally, salt enhances the overall taste of the dough, bringing out the flavours of the other ingredients. When adding salt to your dough, it’s essential to distribute it evenly. Consider mixing the salt thoroughly with the flour before adding the water to ensure proper integration. Be mindful of the recommended salt measurements in your recipe and adjust according to your taste preferences (2-3% of the flour weight is standard).

Conclusion

Mastering the art of pizza dough-making involves considering several key factors. From deciding the style of pizza you desire to understanding the impact of time, temperature, flour, water, yeast, and salt; each element plays a crucial role in achieving the perfect pizza crust. Experimenting with different combinations and techniques will help you discover your preferred style and texture.

Remember, practice makes perfect. With each batch of dough you make, you’ll refine your skills and develop a deeper understanding of the intricate process that is pizza dough making. So, roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients, and starting making some homemade pizza from scratch. Enjoy the satisfaction of crafting a chewy or crispy crust, otherwise known as truly groovy pizza…