The Making of Pizza Dough

When making a great pie, everything starts with the pizza dough recipe. A good crust can make or break a pizza, and often, it's the favorite part of the entire dish. Pizza recipes everywhere focus on the dough–the base for everything. The best dough recipes for pizza are ones that have gone through a trial and error process, as chefs tweak and re-tweak the blend until it's just right.

Developing the perfect pizza dough recipe doesn't happen overnight. In fact, the history of the greatest pizza recipes trace back to ancient times. Our great ancestors have enjoyed this delicious dish for centuries before us, taking on many forms over the years. But one thing remains the same. The dough remains a crucial element.

Whether you're a thin-crust person, enjoy a fluffy pie, or appreciate a deep dish recipe, rest assured that it all starts with a recipe that's been in the making for years. For some, eating the leftover crust is the best part of the meal, dipping it in leftover sauce and oil. Others prefer the base crust and leave the ends for those lovers. There's no wrong way to enjoy pizza crust.

But what's the process of making pizza dough? Are there certain things you shouldn't do when making your own pie? What are the best ingredients to use, and how do they relate to ancient versions of the dish? These are all fantastic questions, and we're here to answer them.

Hands spreading pizza dough in flour.

Keep reading to learn how to create the perfect pizza dough recipe and find interesting facts about dough recipes for pizza from the past. Then, place an order with Hungry Howie's Pizza to satisfy your delicious craving.

What Is the Process of Making Pizza Dough?

Pizza dough recipes center on finding just the right ingredients of the highest quality. Just like Rome wasn't built in a day, making pizza dough can also be a lengthy process. In the end, it's entirely worth it. Most dough recipes for pizza include preparing everything in advance before letting it sit overnight. This helps the dough mix and form properly before creating a pie.

First, collect all your ingredients, which typically include dry active yeast, which allows the dough to rise. Then, gather some all-purpose flour (or whole wheat flour if you prefer), salt, and olive oil. Minimal ingredients make the process simple, but it's the creation technique that really counts.

Steps to make pizza dough include:

  • Activating the yeast by dissolving it in lukewarm water. Many people use a standing mixer or food processor for this step.
  • Add the rest of your ingredients slowly, folding them into the water and yeast mixture.
  • Continue folding the mixture until it has a dough-like appearance–usually for five minutes or so. This initial dough may look lumpy or feel sticky, but that's the way you want it.
  • Dust your cooking area with flour so the dough doesn't stick to the surface.
  • Knead the dough by hand for several minutes until it appears more smooth and firm.
  • Refrigerate overnight. You can also freeze raw dough in individual portions for later use.
  • When ready, place the dough on a sheet of parchment paper on a baking pan. Dust the top with flour.
  • Cover your pizza dough with plastic wrap or a light towel, and place it in a warm spot for half an hour. You'll notice the dough start to rise.
  • Once the dough doubles in size, it's ready to begin preparation for a pie!

Now comes the fun part, where you spread the dough into a circular shape and top it with your favorite sauce, cheese, and toppings. Follow the baking instructions for your specific pizza dough recipe to complete your divine dish!

What Not to Do When Making Pizza Dough

Just as there are key points when making pizza dough (like activating the yeast and allowing the dough to properly rise), there are things you should make sure don't happen.

Here are some common mistakes when following dough recipes for pizza:

  • Not letting the dough rest long enough. Resting the dough is essential as it leavens the yeast through fermentation–forget this step, and you can end up with a brick of hard dough.
  • Not kneading the dough long enough. This crucial step helps properly mix the ingredients, spreading them evenly throughout the dough.
  • Not spreading the dough properly. It may seem like a great shortcut to use a rolling pin, but since your pizza dough recipe results in a soft mixture that's full of bubbles, rolling the dough with a pin can ruin that fluffy pie.
  • Going too hard on the toppings. Everyone loves a loaded pizza, but when there are too many toppings, it doesn't allow the dough to bake properly. If you're craving extra pepperoni, consider adding more after the pizza bakes.

What Is the Best Flour for Pizza Dough?

You can use a variety of flours, and you'll see several suggestions when looking up dough recipes for pizza. For the ultimate pizza recipe, experts recommend using one of the following:

  • All-purpose flour (unbleached)
  • Pizza flour (yes, it's a thing!)
  • Italian durum wheat flour (look for flour type "00")
  • Artisan bread flour

Different flours will yield different results. For thin-crust pies, bakers recommend all-purpose flour. If you're looking for a fluffier base, look for flour with higher protein content. For a thicker crust, use flour that with 13-14.5% protein.

The History of Pizza Dough

Pizza dough has a rich and wonderful history. Ancient Mediterranean cultures used flatbreads as their pizza base and seasoned it with herbs before baking on hot stones. The primary ingredients were simply flour and water. Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans followed this same pizza dough recipe.

What we now know as the classic pizza dough didn't come to be until the late 18th century or the 1700s. Originally, aristocrats considered it a "peasant dish." It was then, in the 1800s, that Italian Queen Margherita and King Umberto I traveled to their country and found the pies in small villages. The Queen found the pizza so delicious she brought it back to the royals, having her personal chef create pizza regularly.

It comes from Naples, Italy, where the modern dish evolved. Many credit the baker Raffaele Esposito for creating the first "true" pizza. He paid homage to the Queen by naming his first pie the "Margherita Pizza." The first licensed pizzeria arrived in America in 1905, at Lombardi's in New York City.

Now that you know all about the making of pizza dough and its brief history, make your own or place an order with Hungry Howie's today!