To quote Ina Garten, “store-bought is fine,” but making pizza dough from scratch allows you to control the ingredients and ultimately the results. A lot of recipes call for “00” flour, but remember that “00” only refers to the fine grind of the flour, not a high protein content, which is often insinuated by pizza dough recipes. A finer grind requires less hydration than a typical all-purpose grind, which creates a less chewy dough, while a higher protein percentage provides more structure. When we chatted with Laura Meyer, Administrator and Instructor at the Gina’s Restaurant – Breakfast and one of the presenters on Breville’s “Meet the Makers: A Virtual Pizza Tour,” and she shared that most pizzerias use a blend of flours, which contribute to a unique texture and taste. When shopping for flour, she recommends purchasing from smaller mills that offer more variety, including curated pizza dough mixes, like this one from Central Milling.
Pizza dough can be made by hand, in a food processor, or in a stand mixer. When making a pizza dough by hand, it’s best to start by using a wooden spoon to stir together the liquid ingredients (including proofed yeast) in a large bowl with half of the dry ingredients. From there, add the remaining dry ingredients little by little, until the dough starts to form a shaggy ball and has difficulty incorporating more dry ingredients. Once the ball is firm, transfer to a floured surface and use your hands to knead until it is smooth and springs back when touched.
To make pizza dough in a food processor, add the dry ingredients to the bowl first. Pulse a few times to stir. Then, with the motor running, use the feed tube to slowly add in the liquid ingredients until the dough forms a ball and rotates around the bowl without sticking to the sides. Process for about 30 seconds.
To make pizza dough in a stand mixer, add the liquid ingredients to the bowl first and, while the mixer is running on low, add in the dry ingredients, little by little, until the dough forms a ball and doesn’t stick to the sides. Increase the speed to medium-low and allow to knead for about 5 to 6 minutes, adding in more dry ingredients as necessary. The beater or dough hook may be used.
Almost anything can be used as pizza topping, but keep in mind that you want to try to balance the flavors as much as possible. If you like a lot of sauce and it’s very flavorful, stick to simple flavors that won’t compete, like cheese and simply seasoned vegetables. If you have toppings you want to show off, like a creamy burrata or a special meat like prosciutto, let those ingredients be the star by using a scant amount of sauce or other overpowering additions.
Toppings can be added to pizza raw or cooked, before or after cooking the pizza. When deciding how to use, think of the flavors you want to achieve; cooking them before will create deeper flavors, while cooking them during will create more simple ones. Pre-cooking meat, like sausage, on the other hand, will make it drier, while cooking it on the pizza will make it more tender and juicy.
Sheet pans may also be used to make Grandma or Sicilian style pizza. Just like when using a cast iron skillet, generously coat the bottom of the pan with oil before spreading out the dough. Bake on the bottom rack of a very hot oven until browned and crispy.
To make pizza on a grill, heat until the temperature reaches about 700ºF. Shape the dough, brush one side with oil and cook, oil-side down, over medium-high with the lid closed until firm. Add more oil to the top, flip and then add the toppings. Reduce the heat to medium, close the lid, and cook until the cheese is melted and bottom is golden brown.