"Choose Your Own Adventure" Pizza Dough

This recipe has been contributed by the friend of the mill Dan Richer. Here's an excerpt of what he had to say about it in his book "The Joy of Pizza: Everything You Need to Know." "This recipe most closely resembles the spirit of the one we use at Razza. It really embodies what we do there: Seek inspiration from the raw materials we get from great mills. The thing about this dough is that it is incredibly flexible and has a long window of usability. I love Cairnspring Mills' Yecora Rojo (Glacier Peak and Trailblazer), which is a touch higher in protein but has incredible flavor."

Dan Richer, owner of Razza

Prep Time

Varies

Bake Time

7 minutes/pizza

Total Time

2 days

Yield

Six medium pizzas

Ingredients:

For the final starter feeding:

100 grams starter

100 grams water 

100 grams Glacier Peak or Sequoia bread flour

For the final mix:

800 grams Glacier Peak Bread Flour (or a mix of Glacier Peak and Sequoia)

600-650 grams warm water

200 grams sourdough starter

18 grams fine sea salt

Extra virgin olive oil, for oiling

Rice flour, for dusting the peel

 

Baker's Notes:

* Before you mix dough made with starter, the starter must be very active and fed in advance of the mix. The final starter feeding is done 4 to 5 hours before mixing and produces enough starter for the final mix, plus excess, which becomes the seed for your next starter batch. Feed the excess. If you want to mix dough the following day, leave it out at room temperature. Otherwise, refrigerate it, then return to feeding it every 12 hours beginning 3 days before your next bake.

** Rubaud method: Secure the bowl with your nondominant hand. Scoop your hand under the far end of the dough, lift slightly, drop, and scoop again. Turn the bowl slightly every four or five scoops. Repeat the scooping/digging motion until all the starter is incorporated.

***Window Pane Test: Use this tactile and visual assessment of the dough to determine when the dough has reached full gluten development. Use three fingers (thumb, index, and middle) on both hands to stretch a piece away from the dough ball, leaving it attached. If you can pull the dough until it is translucent without tearing, it has reached full gluten development. In other words, it is strong enough to hold the gases produced during fermentation and has therefore passed the Window Pane Test.

**** One approach is to leave the dough on the counter and, with one hand in the center, pull at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock. Another is to scoop up the dough from below with your palms facing the counter, then turn the dough, stretching and pulling it in increments with your knuckles.

***** You’ve got your pizza on your peel. You topped it cautiously, making sure you didn’t get any moisture onto the peel, and you’ve dried your hands. The oven is completely and fully preheated. Your whole house is hot. It’s time.

There’s a lot riding on this moment: If the pizza sticks to the peel, it’s pretty hard to salvage. You can, theoretically, try to lift up the part of the dough that’s stuck to the peel and dust it with additional rice flour, but for me it’s not worth the risk of the dough staying stuck and launching cheese and sauce all over the inside of my oven. When this happens, 1 just fold the dough in half and make it into a calzone, the most delicious way I know to recover from a round pizza failure.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t pull this off at first. This is a legitimately difficult part of the process and it takes practice.

Directions:

DAY 1

  1. Feed the starter* (see Baker's Notes): 4 to 5 hours before you plan to mix, combine the starter, water, and flour in a medium bowl and mix well. Set aside, covered, until at least doubled in volume.
  2. Incorporate the ingredients: Once your starter has at least doubled in volume, mix together the flour and 600 grams of water from the final mix with your fingertips or a spoon until no dry bits remain.
  3. Autolyse: Set the mixture aside, covered with a clean kitchen towel, for 20 minutes to 1 hour to hydrate the flour (if you prefer, you can also mix the flour and water at the time you do the final starter feeding for an extended autolyse).
  4. Incorporate the Starter: Add the starter to the autolysed dough. Use four closed fingers, pinky to index, and mix using the Rubaud method** (see Baker's Notes).
  5. Incorporate the Salt: Sprinkle over the salt and use your fingers to scissor pinch it into the dough. Use your thumb and first finger to work the salt in from one side of the dough to the next.
  6. Knead: Once the salt is incorporated and dissolved, continue mixing using the Rubaud method for 5 to 7 minutes more. Use your senses to assess how wet or dry the dough is and how strong or weak it feels. That will determine if you need to add additional water. If the dough feels loose and wet, don't add any additional water and continue mixing until the dough tightens up. If the dough feels strong and dry or tough, add the remaining water 10 grams at a time, mixing until the dough feels supple and soft and tacky but not too sticky and some strength has developed. You may not need all the water.
  7. Bulk Ferment with Stretch and Folds: Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled plastic or glass bowl. Set aside, covered with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel, at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  8. After 20 minutes, uncover the bowl. Place a small bowl of cold water next to the dough bowl. Stretch and fold the dough in the bowl to develop more strength. Every time you touch the dough, dip your hand in the water first. Starting at 12 o’clock, pull the quadrant of dough upward gently 6 to 12 inches (as much as the dough allows without tearing), then press it gently onto itself. Turn the bowl a half turn and repeat. Next, turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat the lifting/ pressing, then a half turn and repeat. The dough will tighten up and get stronger during the series of stretch and folds. Set aside, covered with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel, at room temperature, for another 20 minutes.
  9. Repeat the stretch and folds every 20 minutes until the dough has increased in volume by about 20 percent and it passes the Window Pane Test*** (see Baker's Notes).
  10. Divide and Round: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, allowing it to gently release from the bowl. Handle the dough with extreme care. Using a dough scraper, cut the dough into six equal pieces weighing about 270 grams each.
  11. Working with one piece of dough, bring the top half of the dough (from 12 o’clock) and lift and press it into the center of the dough. Next, bring the bottom half of the dough and lift and press it into the center. Take the left side of the dough and lift and press it into the center. Repeat with the right side. Then, take four corners and pull and fold them into the center of the ball and gently press to attach. Do not flatten. Be sure the ball is round and the bottom is sealed, pinching it closed if necessary. Gently flip the dough seam-side down. Repeat this process with the remaining dough pieces.
  12. Place each ball into individual, very lightly oiled plastic containers large enough to allow each ball to double in volume. You can also place the balls in a lightly floured dough tray or baking sheet, dust their surface with flour, and cover with plastic wrap.
  13. Proof: Transfer to the refrigerator to rest overnight.

 

DAY 2

  1. Determine When to Bake: Remove the dough from the refrigerator 2 to 3 hours before baking. The dough is ready when it has increased in volume and when it springs back slowly and leaves a slight indentation when poked.
  2. Preheat Your Oven: At least 1 hour before baking, preheat the oven to 500°F and set a baking stone or steel on a rack 6 to 8 inches below the top of the oven to preheat as well. Turn the broiler on during the last 10 minutes if your oven allows. Turn off the broiler before you load the oven.
  3. Stretch: Flour the top of a dough ball. If it is in a container, turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface. If it is in a dough tray or resting on a baking sheet, with your nondominant hand resting gently on top of the floured dough ball, use a dough scraper to scoop up the dough. Then invert the dough and gently land it on a generously floured surface. Try not to damage any of the structure at all, and be as minimally invasive as possible. Keep track of the "top” and "bottom” of the dough. The top of your future pizza is the one currently facing the countertop.
  4. Using extremely gentle movements with flat fingertips spread, apply pressure on the dough at 10 and 2 o’clock. Lift your hands and reposition the dough closer to you. Move from the top of the dough toward you, pressing downward and outward. Leave an inch along the rim that you don’t touch at all.
  5. Flip the dough over. The top of the future pizza is now facing upward. Continue stretching the dough, using the technique that works best for you**** (see Baker's Notes). Be super gentle and don't be afraid to rely on gravity, a great stretcher of pizza dough. Regardless of your technique, stretch the dough until you get to a 10- to 11-inch diameter. You will stretch it to a 12-inch diameter on the peel.
  6. Transfer to the Peel: Dust the peel with coarse rice flour. Next, wipe your hands to remove any excess moisture. Gently scoop up the dough, sliding your hands beneath it, palms facing the work surface. Shake off any excess flour and transfer the dough to the floured peel.
  7. Using flattened and spread fingertips, palms facing upward from underneath, gently pull the dough until the disk reaches 12 inches in diameter. Be sure your hands are dry when you do this, otherwise the dough will stick to the peel.
  8. Build: Add your desired toppings.
  9. Slide your pizza off the peel onto the baking stone or steel: Before you open the oven door, give the peel a quick jerk. The pizza should move slightly in response to your movements. Be swift and confident as you launch the pizza into the oven. Grip the peel with your dominant hand and open the oven door with your other hand. Land the tip of the peel about a half inch from the far edge of the stone or steel. Pull the peel swiftly away, cautiously allowing the dough to fall into place***** (see Baker's Notes).
  10. Close the door and turn on the oven light. The pizza needs to bake for a total of 6 to 7 minutes.
  11. Set a timer for 3 minutes. Check the pizza at the 3-minute mark to inspect the oven spring and rim caramelization. Oven spring should be complete—meaning the rim should be prominently raised. Caramelization should be in progress—meaning the rim will be beginning to brown. Most ovens have hot spots, so if you see one part is cooking more quickly than another, slide the peel underneath the pizza and use your fingers or tongs to reposition it so the pizza cooks evenly, then close the door quickly. You want all these movements to be efficient so the oven loses as little heat as possible.
  12. Set the timer for 3 minutes. The pizza should be baked and the toppings should be melted or cooked within 6 to 7 minutes total, but use your intuition to tell when the pizza is done.
  13. Repeat with remaining dough balls, allowing your stone or steel to adequately recover between bakes.
  14. Slice, eat, and enjoy!

Baker's Notes:

* Before you mix dough made with starter, the starter must be very active and fed in advance of the mix. The final starter feeding is done 4 to 5 hours before mixing and produces enough starter for the final mix, plus excess, which becomes the seed for your next starter batch. Feed the excess. If you want to mix dough the following day, leave it out at room temperature. Otherwise, refrigerate it, then return to feeding it every 12 hours beginning 3 days before your next bake.

** Rubaud method: Secure the bowl with your nondominant hand. Scoop your hand under the far end of the dough, lift slightly, drop, and scoop again. Turn the bowl slightly every four or five scoops. Repeat the scooping/digging motion until all the starter is incorporated.

***Window Pane Test: Use this tactile and visual assessment of the dough to determine when the dough has reached full gluten development. Use three fingers (thumb, index, and middle) on both hands to stretch a piece away from the dough ball, leaving it attached. If you can pull the dough until it is translucent without tearing, it has reached full gluten development. In other words, it is strong enough to hold the gases produced during fermentation and has therefore passed the Window Pane Test.

**** One approach is to leave the dough on the counter and, with one hand in the center, pull at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock. Another is to scoop up the dough from below with your palms facing the counter, then turn the dough, stretching and pulling it in increments with your knuckles.

***** You’ve got your pizza on your peel. You topped it cautiously, making sure you didn’t get any moisture onto the peel, and you’ve dried your hands. The oven is completely and fully preheated. Your whole house is hot. It’s time.

There’s a lot riding on this moment: If the pizza sticks to the peel, it’s pretty hard to salvage. You can, theoretically, try to lift up the part of the dough that’s stuck to the peel and dust it with additional rice flour, but for me it’s not worth the risk of the dough staying stuck and launching cheese and sauce all over the inside of my oven. When this happens, 1 just fold the dough in half and make it into a calzone, the most delicious way I know to recover from a round pizza failure.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t pull this off at first. This is a legitimately difficult part of the process and it takes practice.


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