Don't Lose Your Temper - Everyday Baking Blog at - 70238

Everyday Baking

Don't Lose Your Temper 
Jan. 16, 2009 3:31 pm 
Updated: Jul. 20, 2009 1:57 pm
      We eat a lot of pizza at our house. It's quick, it's versatile, it's fun to eat—what's not to love? We usually make a triple batch of dough at a time, freezing two pizza's worth and eating one crust on the day we make it.
      You don't need to toss the pizza dough in the air like a professional pizzaiolo to shape your crust. You don't need a rolling pin, either. My husband, a patient man, used to be brought to a cursing, dough-hating rage by recalcitrant pizza crusts. If he can make a perfect round, so can you. Here are my top 3 tips for making the process a little friendlier:

1. Take off all rings, watches, and jewelry before you begin. Once you've snagged and torn a hole in the dough, you'll have trouble patching it.

2. Shape the dough into nice tight rounds. This will make shaping the dough easier once it has risen.

3. Par-bake the crust on a pizza screen. Not only does this save you from the anxiety of using a pizza peel (and the potential for oven-floor disasters), it also allows you to prepare several crusts ahead of time if you're feeding a crowd. Then you can top and bake them assembly-line fashion.

Other pointers:

• Use a stand mixer if you have one. I like to add a tablespoon or so of vital wheat gluten to the bread flour to make a more elastic, stretchy dough. However, if you're kneading by hand, you won't be able to develop the dough enough to make this step worthwhile.

• To determine when the dough has mixed long enough to fully develop the gluten structure, test for a "windowpane." Flour your fingers and pinch off a small piece of dough. You should be able to stretch it until it's thin and translucent before it begins to tear. If the dough pulls apart right away, you haven't kneaded/mixed it long enough.

• After dividing the dough into pizza-sized portions, form the pieces into nice tight rounds. This will make shaping the crust easier once the dough has risen.

• If you're setting aside some of the dough, drizzle a tablespoon or so of olive oil into zippered plastic freezer bags; oiling the bags before adding the dough balls will make your life easier when you're trying to get it back out again. Thaw frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight; transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and let rise at room temperature for two or three hours before shaping.

• Once the dough has risen, lightly flour a work surface and your hands. You want to gently stretch the dough over the backs of your hands, letting the weight of the dough pull it thinner as you work your way around the edges of the round. Try not to pop any air bubbles that have formed. Concentrate on working the outer edges, as the center will take care of itself.

• Bake the dough for about 3–4 minutes at 450° or 500° F until the crust structure is set, but not browned. You can then add the toppings and bake it immediately, or you can set the crust aside and bake it later.

• A pizza stone is essential, in my opinion. Pull the oven rack out slightly to make it easier to slide the topped pizza onto the stone. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.

Note: my favorite crust recipe comes from the Gourmet cookbook, and is adapted from Pizzeria Bianco, a phenomenal restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona. It's well worth the two- or three-hour wait for a table.
"Windowpane" in dough
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Dough Rounds
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Stretching Dough
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Placing dough on screen
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Ready to par-bake
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Par-baked crust
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Baking pizza
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Jan. 16, 2009 4:25 pm
Beautiful dough and great tips. I know what I am doing on Sunday. Thanks.
Jan. 16, 2009 5:06 pm
Couldn't be more timely. I took pizza dough out of the freezer last night and maybe tonight I'll actually be able to create a round, even-thickness crust. Thanks!
Jan. 16, 2009 10:16 pm
Great pointers! Pizza dough is such fun. Thanks!
Jan. 27, 2009 5:58 am
Thanks for the tips! We too love pizza, and I fight with the dough every time.
Feb. 2, 2009 10:34 am
Let me know how your next batch turns out, and if these tips help! We're having pizza for dinner again tonight, using dough I froze last month.
Apr. 25, 2009 2:30 pm
Thanks for these wonderful tips. My family LOVES pizza; one question: approximately what size pizza does a round of this dough make? Also, an unrelated question to which I have tried to find an answer (without success): what is the difference between heavy cream and whipping cream? Many, many thanks!
May 27, 2009 11:42 am
Great tips! We knead by hand, and the results are...mixed. Look forward to trying again now. I've never come close to rolling out the dough into a perfect round like yours! Beauty! Mine end up looking like Greenland or Wisconsin. Pizza night's a geography lesson. THANKS!
Jul. 20, 2009 1:57 pm
I found the recipe for pizza dough you are referring to. Here is the link:
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About Me
I'm proud to say I've been an Allrecipes employee for 9 years, combining my love of the written word with my passion for food. I've worked in publishing and in the food service industry, both "front of the house" and back. I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America's Baking & Pastry program and have worked as a baker and pastry cook in Wisconsin, for a season at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, and at bakeries in Seattle.
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My baking career really began when I was in first grade and my family was living in Germany. Every morning my father and I would walk to the local bakery for bread and an afternoon treat, like Apfelkuchen. I love dark sour breads, baking anything with yeast in it, and anything that requires hours of patient work, like croissant and Danish doughs.
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Food we ate while camping. Animal pancakes. My mom's meatloaf. My grandfather's breakfasts.
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I think a baker's real triumph is getting to work at 4 am, day in and day out, so that there are beautiful pastries and loaves of bread on display when the bakery opens three hours later. A personal triumph was making my own wedding cake.
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Heavens! Too shameful to list: all that wasted dough, those burnt nuts, spilled milk to cry over....
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