Basic Pizza Dough
This is a simple, versatile, Italian-style dough that can be chilled or frozen to store, then shaped and cooked by oven or barbecue.
- 500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp dried yeast (not fast-action)
- 400ml warm water
- Oil, for greasing
- Put the flour and salt in the bowl and mix the yeast into the water. It’s always a good idea to wait 5 mins before using the liquid to see if the yeast is working – little bits will start to rise to the top and you’ll know it’s active.
- Knead for 10 mins until the dough is shiny and it springs back when you press your finger into it. Try not to add too much flour if you can. This is a slightly sticky dough, but that keeps it light and it rises beautifully.
- Use oiled hands to remove the dough from the bowl. Oil another bowl and place the dough in it. Turn it around so that it’s lightly coated in the oil. Cover tightly with cling film and then a tea towel. Place in a draught-free area that’s warm and leave until the dough has doubled in size. If it’s a hot day, it should only take 2 hrs to rise, but it could take 4 hrs if it’s cold. (If you don’t plan to use the dough for a day or two, place it in the fridge straight away; take it out 3-4 hrs before using. Punch it down first and bring it together on a floured surface.)
- Divide the dough into 2 pieces for big pizzas or 4 for plate-sized ones, then shape into balls, dust them with flour as they will be sticky. Keep them covered with a tea towel or cling film while you prepare the toppings. (You can also freeze them in sealed bags. just thaw in the fridge on the day, then bring to room temperature 3 hrs before using.)
- To shape the dough: If you want to get air pockets and a light but crisp dough, then don’t use a rolling pin. It flattens and pops the air bubbles. (Two days in the fridge will produce the most air bubbles – take it out three to four hours before using.) If your dough is at room temperature, you can use your fingers to gently stretch the dough out. Once it’s about 16cm, place the disc over the tops of your hands (not palm side) and use them to stretch it further, up to about 25cm. You can start pressing out the other discs, then wait to do the final bit when you’re ready to cook.
- To cook the pizza: pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees with the tray you intend to cook the pizza on in the oven to heat up too. Place the pizza on a floured baking sheet.
- Move the baking sheet onto the pre-heated oven tray and put it in the centre of the oven.
- Cook until the cheese has melted and browned slightly. It should take about 8-10 minutes.