UPDATE: Okay, so after some more time with this recipe and lately a few not-so-great pizza’s I’ve been doing some reading on hydration levels for dough. Wow, what a lot of info there is out in the web’iverse! Our initial recipe was running at around 71%; this as we’ve discovered in warmer weather especially, is too high. I’ve scaled things back to around 64%, which does appear to yield more consistent results with the doughs being easier to handle and not stick to the peel as you try to launch them. See below for new ratios.
We’ve been making pizzas for a while now and have constantly been searching for the perfect dough to enhance our pizzas. After many trials, with some great results and some not-so-good, we found the high hydration idea. High-hydration pizza dough is becoming increasingly popular among pizza lovers due to its airy texture, crispy crust and delicious taste.
With a “higher hydration” pizza dough, not only will you achieve a more light and fluffy pizza crust with the classic Italian “leopard-spotted” outer edge, but I find that there is less chance of burning your pizza edge as the extra moisture in the dough is more forgiving than the standard pizza dough recipes which are no match for the the extra hot (300C+) temperatures that our Yoder pizza oven attachment can reach.
The “cold ferment” is also important as it allows for better flavour, texture & colour of the crust as the slower the fermentation allows for more air to be trapped within the dough for a quick airy “puff” of the crust that browns beautifully when it hits the heat of the pizza oven!
To make high-hydration pizza dough, you will need flour with high protein content, such as bread flour, and a higher ratio of water to flour.
This is the recipe we’ve come to use as the house favourite;
600g Bakers flour or Tipo 00 flour
7g (1 sachet) dried yeast
450ml Tap water (down from original 500ml tap water). Gives hydration. of 64.3%
Additional 100g Bakers flour or Tipo 00 flour
1 tsp salt
Place yeast and water into a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
Add 300g of flour and combine by hand for about 30 seconds until the flour is moistened.
Add the remaining 300g of flour and continue to combine by hand for 30 seconds or until no dry flour remains.
Generously oil another large mixing bowl and add dough to it. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 24 hours. Make sure the bowl is large enough to allow for the dough to rise!
Remove dough from the fridge. Combine the remaining 100g flour and salt together. Mix this into the refrigerated dough. Turn onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes until a smooth ball of dough is formed.
PIZZA DOUGH BALL PREPARATION
Lightly oil a flat tray, large enough to space the dough balls apart by about 2.5cm, with olive oil. Alternatively, use individual plastic-lidded containers (about 700ml).
Place dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Using scales, divide into 4 x 300g equal portions, then shape each one into tight dough balls. Do this by stretching the top edges of each ball of dough and tucking them tightly under each ball to form a taut surface on the outside of the dough.
Place formed dough balls, seam-side down, onto a prepared tray or into individual oiled containers and brush or rub a little olive oil over the surface of each dough ball. Gently cover with oiled plastic wrap or container lid and return to the fridge for up to 3 days.
If you want to use the dough immediately after the initial formation of dough balls, leave them to sit covered at room temperature for 2 hours before preparing your pizzas. If you wanted to achieve a more flavoursome and better-textured crust, this is when you would leave them in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- If you have refrigerated the dough balls, remove them from the fridge one hour prior to forming your pizzas.
- The dough balls will have puffed up again, making them very soft, and you might start to see air bubbles forming at the top of the dough.
- In a shallow bowl, mix together 1 cup of flour with 1 cup of coarse semolina or polenta. Dust a work surface with some of the flour mixture.
- Use an oiled or floured bread scraper or metal scraper to gently lift or tip out the dough balls from their container, trying not to lose the air trapped in them, into the bowl of mixed flour. Gently lift and turn over to coat both sides with the flour mixture.
- Place the floured dough ball onto your floured work surface.
- Using the tips of your floured fingers, gently press the air from the centre of the dough to the edges to form a 25cm pizza base with about a 2.5cm edge or crust, which will be filled with air. Don’t use a rolling pin or you will lose all of the airy bubbles that will give your crust that lovely crispy yet soft chewy texture. Sprinkle the base with additional flour if becoming sticky while pressing out to the 25cm diameter.
- Dust your pizza paddle with the flour mixture and then gently slide up the formed dough round.
- While your base is on the pizza paddle, top your pizza base with your chosen ingredients! Keep gently shaking/shuffling the base on the pizza paddle as you are topping it to make sure that it is not sticking at any places on the paddle.
- Remember to do as the Italians do, and don’t be tempted to overload your pizza bases with too many toppings or flavours. The simpler, the better, and there’s less chance of the pizza sticking on the paddle or ingredients being launched across your hot pizza oven when placing it in the oven. Definitely, a case of less is more in this case, no one wants a soggy pizza!
- Place the pizza and paddle into your pizza oven, which has been preheated to around 350C, and gently shuffle the paddle out from under the pizza to the centre of the pizza oven.
- Here’s where you need to be attentive! Keep an eye on the pizza as you see the edges starting to puff up. Let it start to take on some colour on the edge before using your pizza turner to shuffle it about a quarter of a turn gently. Repeat this 1/4 turn as often as is necessary to achieve a uniformly “leopard-spotted” char on the crust. If you are getting any large bubbles happening on your crust, don’t hesitate to pop them with a fork by sliding the pizza out on the turner and then placing back into the oven.
- Once all of the edges and the bottom of your pizza are nicely browned and cooked, remove to a cooling wire rack to prevent moisture from forming on the bottom of your pizza while resting. Once rested for a minute or so, slice and serve and repeat!!
Enjoy your delicious high-hydration pizza!