What happens when you combine a crispy/soft crust with a layer of tomato sauce and a gooey topping? We bet everyone knows the solution to this equation, but let us spell it out, and in caps:
P – I – Z – Z – A!
And while we all love to order out, takeaways have nothing on homemade pizza! First of all, you will be given the chance to prepare your very own pizza dough, add as many different toppings as you want, and finally, you can rest assured all the ingredients are fresh and top notch!
Different Pizza Dough Varieties
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If you are a true pizza aficionado, then you know that the best pizza starts with the best pizza dough (or the crust after baking if you will). In fact, you can look at the pizza dough as the canvas to which then you will paint the pizza-perfect painting. And let’s face it, you can assemble the pizza with the best of toppings, but if the pizza dough isn’t tasty, it all amounts to nothing! This is why we have decided to tell you everything there is to know about the different types of pizza crusts and how to prepare them :).
The world is divided into two types of people- those who love thick crusts, and those who say that if they wanted a bread they would prepare a bread. For the latter, here are the best thin crust varieties.
Neapolitan Pizza Dough
For a pizza dough to be worthy of being called Neapolitan, it has to be hand-kneaded. We all know that Italians take pride in their pizza history, so following the specific set of requirements when preparing this pizza variety is crucial for the final outcome to be perfect.
If you thought we would skip the history lesson today, you were very wrong :). To delve into the history of the Neapolitan pizza, we have to go back in 18th-century Naples, Italy, where poorer citizens were on the look for a satiating meal that could be eaten on the go, and industrious vendors gave them just that- the thin pizza dough layered with tomatoes, cheese, oil, and garlic. Not a very exciting story, but one that we can all relate to for sure. Now off to the pizza dough.
Although at first glance this might seem like a simple pizza dough recipe, with only four ingredients (flour, water, salt, and yeast), there are some particularities that you should bear in mind when preparing it. For example, the pizza dough should be no more than 13.5 inches in diameter, and no more than 0.8 inches thick at the center. Since you are looking for a lean pizza dough, a long fermentation period is a must. You should leave the dough be for around an hour so that the starches have enough time to break down into simpler sugars, the yeast to create flavorful by-products, and for gluten to get formed. This, in turn, will allow you to stretch the dough out easily and it will lead to that leopard-spotted crust in the end. While at the process of baking, an authentic Neapolitan pizza should be baked in a wood-fired, domed oven.
New York Style Pizza Dough
There is an old saying in the Northeast U.S.: No pizza can beat New York pizza! Ok, this is not an old saying, but it is something we firmly believe. 🙂 Yes, Italians invented the pizza, but the super simple pizza dough for the New York style pizza has something the others don’t: The New York City water. The minerals in this water combined with the high-gluten bread flour result in a stiff crust that can easily be eaten without utensils. So yes, the Neapolitan and the New York style pizza dough recipes are very similar, with the difference that the latter has to be a bit thicker. Otherwise, how are you going to fold a wide wedge in half lengthwise? Believe it or not, this pizza has been around since the 1900s, which only goes to show that New York was always a concrete jungle :).
St. Louis Pizza Dough
This is not your regular pizza! While it consists of an easy pizza dough, this Midwest specialty is different than other pizza varieties because of the form it comes in. Forget about wedges, St. Louis pizza is cut into rectangles or squares, and the pizza dough should be unleavened, cracker-like, and of course, to fit this category- thin!
Sicilian Pizza Dough
Another rectangle-shaped crust, but much, much thicker than the St. Louis variety. In fact, the simple pizza dough for the Sicilian pizza should be over an inch thick if you want it to be true to the recipes that Sicilian immigrants brought over to the States. You will find the best Sicilian Pizza in Italian-American communities in Boston, Detroit, Long Island, and of course, New Jersey.
Deep Dish Pizza Dough
Any talk about simple pizza dough that is thick cannot go without another American classic- the Chicago-style deep dish. If you are one of those people who love thick crusts, this 2-inch-thick pizza will be just up your alley. It is called deep-dish pizza for a reason, baked in a deep-dish pan, the simple dough can be topped with as many toppings and cheese of your liking. The easy pizza dough calls for all the regular pizza dough ingredients, but also corn meal, semolina, or food coloring to ensure a distinctly yellow tone.
The Best Flours for Easy Pizza Dough Recipe
When it comes to the perfect pizza dough there is one ingredient that will make it or break it: the flour. So, depending on whether you want the simple pizza dough to be thinner, thicker, rubbery or chewy there are many different flours you can opt for.
The thing you should pay closer attention to is the flour’s gluten content, since it is this protein that will determine the texture of your pizza dough. Once it gets mixed with water, the gluten from the flour will create an elastic system throughout the dough, and as you are kneading it, the gluten traps the bubbles of CO2 released by the fermenting yeast, which in turn, leads to the dough rising.
So, don’t do the mistake of thinking that any flour can work in any recipe. It is not that straightforward. This is why the flours are divided into two generic types soft and strong (or sometimes hard) flours. The first are soft, almost silk-like and they are best left for cakes and pastries. Whereas the latter are great for breads and easy pizza doughs (the gluten content in them being somewhere between 12 and 14 %).
As the name suggests, this flour can be used way more often than other varieties, and with 10–12% gluten content, it is a flour which lies somewhere between the “soft” and “hard” flours. If you are to use this flour for your pizza dough recipe, be ready to roll a bit more since it will be a bit harder to stretch out. Although you can easily incorporate this flour in the thin pizza dough recipes, there is a possibility for it to tear more easily, so it’s for the best if you use it for your Sicilian and deep-dish pizza dough recipes.
Many people swear by the bread flour when it comes to homemade pizza dough. For one, it is affordable, and what’s more important, you probably already have it in your pantry. When preparing your pizza dough, as we have already said above, there is a chance the dough might tear as you stretch it out, well you won’t have that problem if you use bread flour. You might face some difficulties to stretch it into shape though, since it will continually spring back because of the high gluten content. This flour is ideal for the New York style pizza dough recipe because it will ensure a crisp crust.
Caputo Tipo 00 flour
This is an Italian type of flour and it is on the higher end of the price spectrum. It is, however, worth it, if you are to prepare the authentic Italian pizza dough recipe. As we have already mentioned the Neapolitan-style pizza has a thin crust which puffs up in the center and around the rim. The two zeroes in its name refer to the texture. Type 1 is the roughest, type 0 is the middle, and 00 is the finest grind. Being a fine grind flour with a 12.5 % gluten content, this flour will give your simple pizza dough the right amount of elasticity, i.e. it won’t be too tough, nor too soft, it will be chewy, but not rubbery. You can find this flour online, or in one of the specialty grocery shops.
Easy Pizza Dough Recipe
Now that we’ve covered all of the different types of pizza crusts and the flours to help you prepare them, it is high time we give one simple pizza dough recipe that you can prepare in the convenience of your homes. This pizza dough recipe calls for bread flour, which means it is great for New York style pizza. However you can easily replace it with all-purpose flour for the Sicilian or Chicago style, and if you want to prepare the Neapolitan Pizza Dough recipe, then add 4 and a half cups of the Caputo Tipo 00 flour.
3 and a half to 4 cups of bread flour (plus more for rolling)
1 and a half cups of water, 110 degrees F
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 envelope instant of dry yeast
2 teaspoons of salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil (plus 2 teaspoons)
Place the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine. While the mixer is running, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the warm water and beat until the dough forms into a ball. A rule of thumb is whenever the dough is sticky, to add additional flour, a little bit at a time until it becomes solid enough. If the opposite thing happens, i.e. if the dough is too dry, add more water, a tablespoon at a time.
Lightly flour your kitchen counter and scrape the dough onto the surface. Knead the pizza dough into a smooth, firm ball and proceed to place it in a large bowl (previously coated with the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil), cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand for at least an hour so that the gluten from the flour can react and help the dough double in size.
Once doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and proceed to divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cover each one with a clean kitchen towel and let them rest for 10 minutes.
Uncover the dough and spread and stretch it into a circle (or a square if you are to prepare the Sicilian or St. Louis Pizza) and make sure it is about the same dimensions as your prepared pan. Carefully transfer the dough to a large ungreased pizza pan. Crimp up the edges all the way around and brush them with olive oil (this is not necessary but it is a good way to use any leftover olive oil).
Once this easy pizza dough recipe is prepared, it is time to layer it with a topping of your own choosing.
Go ahead and check out what are the toppings each of the above mentioned pizza varieties call for, or experiment with the ingredients you already have. (Pizzas are a great way of re-using leftovers) We are begging you, though, don’t put too much of everything, less is more when it comes to topping the perfect pizza. The toppings should be simple enough so that they don’t overwhelm your taste buds and there is room for the easy pizza dough to cook through.
Since there is no pizza recipe that doesn’t call for cheese, choosing the best type of cheese is extremely important as well. Go ahead and check out the melting points of different cheese types and choose the best one to top your perfect easy pizza dough with.
Three Tips for the Tastiest Easy Pizza Dough
While this was a pretty exhaustive recipe, both in terms of ingredients and preparation, we still have three more tips for the best simple pizza dough.
1# Spice things up
Sure, the best thing about easy pizza dough recipes is the fact that they don’t call for fancy ingredients, but brushing the crust with a garlic herb butter as the final touch will make your pizza crust flavorful in itself. The best part is: the herb butter is pretty easy to prepare. Just melt 2 tablespoons of butter with garlic salt and Italian seasoning and that’s it.
Remember all the gluten talk? Well, it is even better if you place the dough in a large re-sealable bag and let it refrigerate overnight. Make sure to get the dough to room temperature an hour before preparation.
3# Pour Some Sugar on IT
We have already included sugar in the recipe above. However, since sugar allows the yeast to feed off of it and thus ensures a perfect dough, stressing this out was crucial.
Now that you know all there is to know about homemade pizza dough recipes, go ahead and give one of these simple pizza recipes a try:
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