How to make authentic Italian pizza dough
Our recipe for authentic Italian pizza dough, has been tried and tested as far away as Albania!
We had occasion to go to Albania to help a member of the family with the Grand Opening of their pizza restaurant ‘Ristoro’, on the top floor of the new ‘Toptani’ shopping centre in Tirana. During our time there we were busy helping arrange furniture, clean and prepare plates, cutlery and a huge batches of authentically traditional pizza dough.
Our Italian pizza maker insisted that he always followed a very simple recipe with only 4 ingredients and no sugar. Using the new wood-burning oven that had been installed just days earlier, he was able to make pizza and panini with the same dough.
What Flour do you need to make Italian pizza dough?
Italians use only Tipo 00 to make pizza dough. This is also referred to as grano tenero – ‘soft grain’ flour which is very white and very finely ground. Tipo 00 flour is graded using the ‘W’ or ‘Watt’ scale. For making pizza, the ‘watt’ scale is between 260 and 280. For making pasta, the ‘watt’ scale is between 250 and 310, this is the Tipo 00 that you will find available here in the USA is suitable for both pizza, panini and egg pasta.
There is quite a bit of confusion about the best flour to use and for what and one of the reasons for this is that Italian flour is graded by color, also referred to as ‘extraction rate’. This basically means that flour graded ’00’ is ground very fine and is therefore white, whereas 04 is more like whole meal flour. As a comparison, other countries grade flour by both color and gluten content. These flours typically have names like ‘strong’, ‘plain’ and ‘all purpose’.
We certainly learned a thing or two and it was a great experience and opportunity. So if you want to make real Italian pizza, the trick is to have patience. These pizza doughs were allowed to rise for 8 hours plus (even overnight). We know from our friend Antonello, the pizza maker of Vallecorsa, that raising the dough slowly makes for a better pizza.
Authentic Italian pizza dough for 2 large pizza
- 500 grms Tipo 00 flour
- 300 mls natural spring water at room temperature (100 – 110 F)
- 1 gram dried yeast
- 12 grms salt
- In a jug, first mix the yeast with the water.
- Add the water to half of the flour and begin to mix.
- When the two ingredients have been combined well, add the salt and the rest of the flour then mix until combined to a dough.
- Cover the dough and allow it to rest at room temperature for 5 minutes.
- Now it’s time to get kneading. The trick here is to roll the dough over on itself. You don’t want to work it too hard otherwise you will loose precious pockets of air within the dough.
- Form the dough into two 275 gram (8 oz) balls. We have a little video for you to watch the technique of preparing the dough.
- Cover the dough and leave it for up to 8 hours at 18 – 21 C. The dough will rise very slowly under these conditions and form smaller air bubbles which makes for a better pizza base and panini. Our pizza maker was using this same dough to make wonderful panini fresh from the pizza oven.
- When you are ready to make your pizza, bring the dough out of the fridge and allow to reach room temperature. This will make it easier to work with.
- Once you have formed your pizza base, drizzle it in extra virgin olive oil before adding tomato sauce and any toppings.
- Your oven should be preheated to at least 450F/250C for thin pizza crust, 400F/200C for thicker crusts.
- Your pizza will take from 10 to 15 minutes.
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