New! Improved! Best by Far! ‘Za! Dough

08aZaBakedbfLOYeh… just look at that pretty little ‘za! sitting there on the stone, flaming hot cast iron disk, whatever you use to bake ‘za!

Nicely shaped, very nicely topped, and baked to crispity perfection. I knew I was on to something when I first came up with this dough recipe, but then, on my second try, I also came up with a way to keep my ‘za! in one fairly neat piece while baking. The dough recipe is simplicity itself, makes enough for one, large, ‘za!, and is loosely based on a recipe I found on da Google.

•1 tsp yeast
•1/2 tsp honey
•2/3 cup warm water (110°)
•2 cups flour + additional as needed
•1 tsp salt
•Olive oil for the bowl

02aDoughMixbfLOAdd the honey and the yeast to the warm water in a bowl or 2-cup measure, stir to combine, and let rest for 10 or 15 minutes, until the mixture has developed a nice bit of foam on the top.

Combine the flour and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer – I use the whisk attachment for this, then swap out the dough hook for the rest of the process.

Add the foamy yeast mixture to the bowl and mix on low until a soft dough forms.

02bDoughKneadedbfLOIncrease the speed to medium and knead for ten minutes, adding additional flour by the tablespoon, until the dough is smooth, elastic, and has cleaned the sides of the mixing bowl. I end up adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup (four to eight tablespoons) additional flour.

Once the dough has come together and, as you can see, nicely cleaned the mixing bowl, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to the bowl, remove the dough from the hook, shape it into a ball and place it in the bottom of the mixing bowl, turning so that all sides 03aDoughRisebfLOof the dough ball are lightly coated with the olive oil.

Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot for at least 90 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size.

Note: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here: if you cannot get back to check on the dough in the specified time, no worries. You are the boss of that dough; and you can safely 04bDoughRisenbfLOleave it in that warm spot for several hours or even overnight if needs be. Some folk claim that letting the dough double, then punching it down and doubling again makes for a better tasting dough.

It’s all good.

This dough, as it happens, is just about perfect after an hour or so, tho I’ve been known to ignore it at this stage for several hours until I am ready to deal with it.


05bDoughRolledOutbfLODough risen, we’re getting really close to making ‘za!

Heat your oven to 450°, add your ‘za stone (ours is cast iron and truly a thing of beauty) and heat for at least 30 minutes but up to an hour.

While your ‘za! pan is heating, turn the dough onto a board lightly coated with cornmeal, press into a flattened disk, dust with a bit of flour, lightly cover with a clean kitchen towel or a bit of plastic wrap, and let rest until the pan is ready.

GrilledZaDonebfLOHere is where I had my second epiphany in home ‘za! making:

Once the pan (stone, flaming hot cast iron disk, whatever you’re using) is hot, I normally roll out my dough, then brush it with a bit of olive oil, then the sauce and whatever toppings I like, and then (try to) transfer it from the board to the pan.

06aZaStoneHeatedCornMealbfLOEven using a peel, sometimes, it works and I can get the unbaked ‘za! to the pan in one piece. Most of the time, I end up with a fine tasting but highly irregular looking ‘za! – kinda like this one with great gaping holes in the middle.

Rolling the dough out on parchment paper helps, but then, ta-da!, I thought to try this method, which works a treat!

Once your dough has been rolled out, lightly dimpled with your fingertips, and allowed to rest for one last 15 minutes, remove the heated stone, flaming hot cast iron disk, whatever you’re using from the hot oven and lightly sprinkle with additional cornmeal.

07aDoughStoneSauceSausagebfLOIt’ll smoke a bit, don’t worry about it.

Now, transfer your rolled out but un-topped dough to the stone, neaten up the shape as needed, then lightly brush it with a bit of olive oil, which will help to keep the toppings from soaking in to the dough during baking, giving you a crispier crust.

07bZaReadytoBakebfLOPlacing the dough on the hot stone, flaming hot cast iron disk, whatever you’re using and then topping it also begins to pre-cook the dough, which I’ve found helps to make for a nicely crispity crust.

I topped this with leftovers: a bit of doctored sauce, some garlic sausage, peppers and onions (without the pasta), sliced black olives, sliced fresh mozz, crumbled feta cheese, and a nice sprinkling of Aleppo pepper, then popped the whole shebang back into the oven for about 15 minutes, by which time the edge of the crust was nicely browned, the cheeses beautifully melted, and the rest of the toppings warm and oh, so tasty.

09aZaSlicedbfLOReally fine ‘za!

And the crust, crispity, crunchy, pizza dough-y perfection.

Now that it’s baked, the ‘za! is firm enough to transfer with the peel to a cutting surface; you never want to cut on your pizza stone, flaming hot cast iron disk, etc.

Rich enjoyed his as is; I drizzled mine with a bit of sherry peppers sauce and thoroughly enjoyed it. You do what you like, but I think you will like this dough.

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