YUP, I THINK WE ALL NEED TO HAVE A LONG & INTELLIGENT TALK in order to understand and to demystify "foolproof" thin crust pizza dough ingredients and techniques (once and for all) … pffffffff !
Some equations and calculations will also be necessary … but WHY ?
Because when you use only 6 BASIC INGREDIENTS : flour + salt + water + oil + yeast + sugar … alot can go wrong !
It should be EASY and UNDERSTANDABLE and ADAPTABLE and SCALABLE and FOOLPROOF and it will require a few trial & error experiments, spending some time reading the flour bag labels, using a kitchen scale and a calculator until you figure out what’s exactly right for you and after figuring all that out (you should do tests with topping-less cooked dough), you will no longer need any written instructions … Are we GOOD so far ?!
1st question : how much or what ratio of dry ingredients to wet ingredients ? (using a calculator and a digital kitchen scale and a simple math equation).
2nd question : what is the flour you’re using now and how and/or can you improve it ? (check the flour label for the composition and protein (aka gluten) content and figure out how finely ground it is).
3rd question : how much should you knead it and let it rest ? (warm hand-kneading or cold machine kneading and a timer).
4th question : when do you want to bake and eat it ? Is it for tonight or tomorrow or the day after tomorrow ? (yeast quantities and room temperature and/or refrigerator temperature dough rises).
5th question : toppings ? (how little or how much, at what temperature and should they be plump & fresh or slightly dried out).
6th question : how will you bake it and where in the oven ? (oven temperature and oven rack position).
1st answer : * here’s the magical equation :
360 + 10 = 370 x 66% = 245 = 235 + 5 + 4 + 1
(finely-ground high-protein flour or flour + gluten mix)
(fine sea salt)
(total weight of mixed dry ingredients)
(ratio of wet ingredients to dry ingredients)
(total weight of mixed wet ingredients)
(dry instant yeast)
(total weight of dough for 1 LARGE 45 cm pizza or 2 INDIVIDUAL 30 cm pizzas)
2nd answer : The TEXTURE* of the flour, which has to be very finely ground and silky (like cake or pastry flour) and the PROTEIN (aka GLUTEN) CONTENT** which should be high are both very important.
*Every country has its codes or types for FINER-GROUND FLOURS (T45 in FRANCE, TIPO 00 in Italy, T405 in Germany, PLAIN WHITE FLOUR in the United Kingdom, CAKE & PASTRY FLOUR in North America, etc.). Unfortunately, these very finely-ground and silky cake & pastry flours usually have a low protein/gluten content between 8-10%, unless you’re lucky enough to find Italian tipo 00 flour that is very finely-ground and also has a higher protein/gluten content between 13-15% usually (but it’s quite expensive if you live outside of Italy). This flour is usually made from wheat grown in colder climates, often referred to as “Manitoba Flour”. Bread flour has a higher protein content from 13-15% but it’s not fine nor silky enough for pizza dough (nor for pasta dough for that matter).
**The protein in wheat flour is called GLUTEN which is what gives the dough its elasticity and chewiness and allows the development of the dough’s rise and of the air bubbles or air pockets that get trapped inside. You need to start off by using flour that is finely-ground and then to pump up or boost the protein by adding some EXTRA GLUTEN* so you end up with 14% total protein/gluten content (which is ideal) for pizza dough). I know it’s weird to hear someone say this I today since most people are steering away from GLUTEN and looking for GLUTEN-FREE and not EXTRA-GLUTEN. I think it’s industrial gluten versus organic gluten that makes the difference. Industrial gluten molecules are huge and difficult to digest while organic gluten molecules are smaller. Buy some VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN (as it is called), from any organic food store. Usually the protein/gluten content of this ingredient is always between 77%-83%. On average, a 500 gram bag of organic gluten will cost around 5€ but you can find 1kg bags for 5€ too. You’ll only use about 10-25 grams (1½ - 2½ tbsp) at a time (for 2 pizzas), added to your flour so it will be enough for around 40-100 individual pizzas. The total price of the flour with the gluten you will add to it, will end up costing you approximately 1€ per kg while that perfect Italian TIPO 00 flour can cost up to 5€ for 1kg (when purchased outside of Italy). So you see, it’s possible to get an appropriate homemade flour mix inexpensively.
3rd answer : This recipe fits in your HANDS, so hand-knead it. The warmth of the water and especially of your hands is necessary and very beneficial to the silkiness of the dough. You’ll KNEAD it 2 TIMES for 3 minutes with a BREAK or RESTING PERIOD of 15 minutes in between.
4th answer : The quantity of YEAST added depends on when you want to eat pizza and how tasty you want the dough to be. The amount of yeast you add, whether 1 tsp or ½ tsp or ¼ tsp also depends on how long you’re willing to wait 4-8-16-24 hours (depending of the room temperature and/or the refrigerator temperature). The less the amount of yeast and the longer and slower the rise, the better it will taste.
5th answer : The 2 balls of dough in this recipe for 2 INDIVIDUAL PIZZAS will weigh 615 GRAMS total or 307 GRAMS each. For an individual 30 cm thin crust pizza that weighs 307 grams before baking and 275 grams after baking, you could easily use almost 300 grams of toppings or up to double or almost 600 grams (sauce + cheese and/or sliced sausage and/or vegetables) per pizza, because this crust will hold but your toppings should be at room temperature and your sliced vegetables should be slightly dried out (to avoid releasing too much water into the sauce) ... but we'll talk about that in 2 weeks !
6th answer : for the BAKING TEMPERATURE, my oven at home will never be as hot as a restaurant pizza oven (290°C-325°C) and actually, it never gets hotter than 225°C ! So I bake it at 225-230°C directly on the oven’s bottom surface for 3-4 MINUTES (to crisp the underside) and then for 10-15 MINUTES on the lower part/rack of the oven to bake the whole thing (the total time depends on the amount of toppings). Another little detail, I use “darker toasted flour” for sprinkling and flouring it, so it has that TOASTED-ROASTED PIZZA-OVEN taste.
Anyways, here’s the recipe & some calculations and next week we’ll talk about PIZZA TOMATO SAUCE - Yes, that’s PART 2 (out of 4) and it’s much shorter, easier & quicker ... :)