Making pizza by hand is just a rewarding thing to do with delicious results.
Most domestic ovens are not hot enough to make ‘proper’ pizza which should take no more than two minutes of cooking. That is why we use the maximum temperature available and bake the pizza on a thick bottomed cast iron pan or a baking stone. This will get you as close to the real thing with basic home equipment.
You can also refrigerate the dough balls for up to 12 hours after shaping. Once you are ready to bake, just take them from the fridge, stretch them, top them and pop them in a hot oven.
A longer slower fermentation gives the pizza a more distinct flavour.
If you have never made a bread with preferment before, then this is a great starting point. Using preferments add flavour and texture to any bread. The preferment we are using in this recipe is called a ‘biga’ which is a relatively low hydration preferment that is easy to work with and it is quite forgiving.
For the ‘biga’ –
70g (2.5oz) strong white bread flour
42g (1.5oz) water at room temperature if your kitchen is around 20-22C (68-71F)
0.2g (0.007oz) dry yeast or 3x the amount of fresh yeast
For the main dough:
290g (10.2oz) strong white bread flour
4g (0.14oz) dry yeast or three times the amount of fresh yeast
7g (0.25oz) salt
18g (0.6oz) olive oil
203g (7.1oz) water at room temperature if your kitchen is around 20-22C (68-71F)
To learn more about dough temperature control click here.
- Mix all the ‘biga’ ingredients and leave to ferment for 12 – 16h or until just starting to collapse in on itself. If the preferment is ready, but you are not, then simply place it in your fridge which will cool it down and stop the fermentation. Get back to it when you can and use it straight from the fridge.
- Add the water, yeast, salt and biga to a bowl and mix.
- Add the rest of the flour and knead for around 4 minutes.
- Stretch the dough out, pour over the olive oil and work it in by tearing. Continue until it all comes together.
- Cover and ferment for 30 minutes.
- Ferment for another 30 minutes.
- Fold. At this point pre-heat your oven to its maximum temperature and pre-heat your baking vessel too. Your oven may be more powerful than mine, so your pizza may bake more quickly. Keep an eye on it.
9. Ferment for another 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and preshape. You can eyeball it or use your scales.
- Rest for 20 – 30 minutes.
- Stretch out, cover with your preferred toppings, and bake for around 7 – 8 minutes until nicely browned and the bottom cooked thoroughly. Shaping pizza is a skill which takes time to learn, but if you take your time and follow my instructions, then you will be able to shape it easily. And even if you make a wonky pizza it will still taste great.
Let it cool down slightly and enjoy!
Watch the video here