Flour, salt, water and yeast – what do these simple ingredients have in common? They come together to create the perfect foundation for any good Italian pizza!
Makes 5 x 12in (30cm) pizzas - equivalent to 5 x 160g dough balls
Makes 3 x 16in (40cm) pizzas - equivalent to 3 x 270g dough balls
1¼ cups (300ml) cold water
2 tsp (10g) salt
7g fresh yeast (if unavailable, use ½ tsp (3g) active dried yeast or ⅓ tsp (2g) instant dried yeast)
4 cups (500g) “00” flour, plus extra for dusting
Place two-thirds of the water in a large bowl. In a saucepan or microwave, bring the other third of water to boil, then add it to the cold water in the bowl. This creates the correct temperature for activating yeast. Whisk the salt and yeast into the warm water.
If mixing by hand:
Place the flour in a large bowl and pour the yeast mixture into it. Stir with a wooden spoon until a dough starts to form. Continue mixing by hand until the dough comes together in a ball. Turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead with both hands for about 10 minutes, until it is firm and stretchy. Return the dough to the bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours.
If using a mixer:
Fit the mixer with the dough hook and place the flour in the mixer bowl. Turn the machine on at a low speed and gradually add the yeast mixture to the flour. Once combined, leave the dough to keep mixing to at the same speed for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough is firm and stretchy. Cover the dough with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours.
When the dough has roughly doubled in size, divide it into 3 or 5 equal pieces, depending on what size you want your pizzas to be (either 12 inches or 16 inches wide). Place each piece of dough in a separate bowl or tray, cover with cling film and leave to rise for another 20 minutes, or until doubled in size.
It’s also possible to cold-prove your dough, a technique that allows the yeast to work on the sugars in the flour for longer, thus helping the dough to develop a deeper flavour. To do this, use half the amount of yeast listed in the ingredients, and leave the dough to rise in the fridge for 24-72 hours – basically, until the day you need it. Divide the dough and cover it as described in the main recipe, then set aside (not in the fridge) for at least 5 hours, until it is up to room temperature.
Kneading and stretching the dough:
Our top tip is always to start with a perfectly rounded ball of dough as this helps to keep the shape of the pizza base circular during the stretching process. Place the ball on a lightly floured surface, flour your hands and use your fingertips to press the dough into a small, flat disc. Working from the center, push the dough outwards while spreading your fingers, making the disc slightly bigger. Pick up the dough and gently pinch it all around the edge, allowing gravity to pull it downwards into a 12-inch (30cm) circle. Neapolitan-style pizza bases are very thin, so you should be able to see through the base when you hold it up to the light. Take care when doing this – you don’t want it to tear.
Once the dough is fully stretched, lightly flour your pizza peel and lay the base on it. If at this point you see any small holes in the dough, gently pinch them back together. Once you’re happy with the base, add your toppings and bake in your Ooni pizza oven as indicated in your chosen recipe.