This is the recipe for basic pizza dough that Ken uses for all of his pizza’s, both thick and chewy crust and thin, thinner, and very thin and crispy version.
The credit for the dough is 100% property of The Culinary Institute of America, The Professional Chef’s Techniques of Healthy Cooking, 2nd edition.
I’ll add Ken’s notes and words of wisdom following the complete recipe.**
Basic Pizza Dough
1 T honey
1/3 ounce dry yeast (10g)
14-16 fluid ounces (420-480 ml) warm water
20 ounces (570g) bread flour (approx 6 cups)
1 1/2 tsp salt (Ken uses sea salt)
3 ounces (85g) cornmeal
1. Mix the honey, yeast, 4 fluid ounces (115 mg) of the water and enough of the flour (Ken uses about a Tablespoon worth) to make a thin batter. Place the batter in a warm area and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Allow the batter to proof for 1 hour or until it becomes frothy and increases in bulk.
2. Add 8 fluid ounces (240 ml) of the water, the remaining flour, and the salt to the batter. Knead with a dough hook at medium speed or by hand, adding the remaining water as necessary until a smooth, elastic dough develops, about 8 to 10 minutes. The dough should cleanly pull away from the sides of the bowl.
3. Place the dough in a warm area and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Allow the dough to rise until it doubles in bulk and holds an impression for a few seconds when pressed with a finger, about 1 hour.
4. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface and release the air in the dough by kneading briefly. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces (3 ounces [90g] each) and shape into balls. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow to proof a second time, about 1 hour.
5. Flatten each dough ball into a 7 1/2 inch wide circle. Place each circle on a sheet pan sprinkled with cornmeal. Garnish as desired and bake in a 550 degree oven [260 degree C] until golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.
CIA Note: If not using immediately, wrap the dough balls tightly before the final proof in step 4 and refrigerate or freeze. Hold the dough under refrigeration for 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw frozen dough, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator. Bring chilled dough to room temperature and allow to proof before using.
Yield: 2 pounds [900g]
Number of Servings: 10 (we cut the dough into 4 or 6 or 8 depending upon how many people are eating pizza, how thick and chewy or not we want the dough, and whether or not we’re planning to eat it as a leftover/lunch. 10 is the CIA, 7 inch pie number. Make little rolls with any left over dough.)
Serving size: 3 ounces [90g]
**Ken’s Notes (the art and finesse notes):
1. Use a pizza stone if baking in a regular kitchen oven; preheat the stone for at least 1 hour at 500 degrees.
2. Ken says that he doesn’t know how long each pizza takes to cook, but he watches each one to see when it looks ‘done’ – the toppings are bubbling and the edges are becoming a deep golden brown. He estimates that it may be 5 – 8 minutes.
3. Use just enough cornmeal to keep the dough from sticking on the baking/pizza paddle. Don’t put cornmeal on the stone – it burns. (This will set off your smoke detector alarm, trust me….!)
4. Bread flour is a must. The high gluten gives the dough the ability to stretch very, very thin.
5. Punch down or knead the dough no less than 3 times over the course of the making. 1st: mix and knead with the hook (KitchenAid) 2nd: knead again an hour after the first knead/rest cycle, knead 2 minutes, make into a large ball and then at this point, cut it into separate pieces, let it raise again (a couple hours even depending what else you’re doing during the day) 3rd: before you put all your mise en plas (toppings) in place, take the pizza dough, punch it down, knead it gently, 1 minute, and then set it aside until you are ready to form that particular pizza.
6. MAKING THE VERY THIN CRUST -- use hands first to press out as wide as possible, use the rolling pin a little to make it even, allow the dough to attach itself to the counter top (in a sticky sort of way) and pull it up and out. The goal is to get the crust as thin as possible, and being able to make a ‘windowpane’ in it. Tossing the dough is not essential here, save that for the thick and chewy crust. Make this pizza last (if you’re making multiples) or next to last when the stone is good and hot.
The rest is pretty much according to the directions.