How delicious does this pizza look?! Today I’m sharing my husband’s pizza dough recipe, which has evolved over the years into this accidentally awesome combination of everything you want in a pizza. It’s got the perfect amount of chew, great flavor and a golden brown color. It doesn’t quite qualify as a thin-crust, but it’s definitely not a deep-dish either. This pizza dough also freezes remarkably well so you can make a whole bunch of it at a time and take out a batch whenever you want! The combination of ingredients might seem a little odd together, but they work so well as a team… kind of like The Avengers, LOL. We’ve very excited in this family to see the Infinity Wars movie coming out later this month, maybe that’s why this analogy came to mind…
Should we roll with it?
In an attempt to explain the role of the main ingredients and why they work so well together, the Avengers comparison actually ended up making sense in my head. Once you know what each ingredients super-powers are, it makes it easier to understand what they do and why you cook or bake with them. So let’s have fun here, shall we?
Quick-Rise Yeast <The Hulk>:This type of yeast is milled into smaller particles, so when it’s needed in action, it doesn’t have e to wait in line. It goes from 0-60 with the help of added enzymes that allow it to transform from small and ordinary-sized Bruce Banners of the world into Hulk-size in no time. And although it’s not green, like it’s comparison here- I really DO like them both when they get angry.
Honey <AKA Black Widow>: This sexy little ingredient is added not just because it’s oh-so-pretty, since it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Like the Black Widow’s enhanced immune system, honey is known as an antibacterial that suppresses mold formation, making it a great dough to store in the freezer for later. And like our favorite Russian superhero/ballerina, honey brings moisture to the dough for enhanced flexibility-an edible plié, if you will. Overall, these femme fatales both add sweetness without overwhelming the perfectly balanced team of flavors.
Barley Malt Syrup <Loki>: Ahh…the outlier. This skeptical ingredient, like Loki, is no stranger to manipulation. Extracted from sprouted barley, barley malt syrup enhances pizza and prolongs the shelf life of dough. It also gives such depth of flavor and character to a pizza that’s just hard to get elsewhere. Its dark and unrefined, only half as sweet as it’s brother, Thor- I mean, white sugar. This ingredient is usually found at health food stores and of course on Amazon, but it’s been around for years on Good Eats, serious eats, Bon Appétit and everything in between. If you cant find it, you can always leave it out- it will still be delicious, it just won’t have that depth that it otherwise would. Thick as thieves, both Loki and this molasses-like syrup definitely have some sticky fingers (Hide your tesseracts, people!) It evokes the malted barley notes used in beer, making a glass of it a great team-up beverage to drink with your slice! Love it or hate it, this cast of characters add exciting depth to the show (I said DOUGH, right?) And in the end, the final result wouldn’t be the same without them.
We’re also going to discuss the multiple kinds of flours used in this recipe. It’s very unique, and likely very odd to many of you. When we were experimenting with the recipe we were anxious ourselves about how it would turn out. Originally we used these all because we were low on bread flour and wanted to make up the difference with what we had on hand. We viewed it as a culinary adventure (we can always order in, right?) But upon tasting the crust we quickly realized something magical happened when you combined these all, and once learning about what they each do, it all makes sense.
Gluten <Spider man>: We’re going to get into the different flours here but the first thing to note is that we’re looking at what’s called the Gluten Content of each of them. Gluten, in it’s most basic explanation, is a protein that creates an elastic “web” within any dough- see what I did there, with Spider-Man? Hee hee. It essentially gives whatever it’s used in it’s structure and backbone. And the amount of gluten in any flour predicts how the dough it’s used in will perform. Pastry flour, for example, has very low gluten, so it produces extremely delicate pastries that crumble easily.
I dare you to see the word gluten from now on and not think of Peter Parker.
I DARE YOU.
All-Purpose Flour <Captain America>: All-purpose flour is the reliable, shelf-stable flour that 90% of us reach for first in our shelves. It’s predictable in it’s taste and stability due to it’s 9-11% gluten content, making it ideal for most jobs. It’s strong, but like Captain America, is also sensitive and listens to your feelings. It’s who you can call after a bad day for a very muscular, strong shoulder to cry on. AP Flour also plays well with other, but is hard to stretch out without springing back or ripping easily- which is why we only use it for half of the full amount of flour required for this recipe. Also, like Chris Evans, look for the unbleached varieties for the best flavor and nutritional content. All in all, AP Flour and Captain America are both your gold standards that will always be there for you.
Bread Flour <Thor>: Bread flour is very high in gluten, which gives pizza dough it’s classic chewy nature. It’s the strongest of all the Avengers- I mean flours- with a 13-14% gluten content. It’s what gives doughs it’s tough crust, aka it’s resistance to injury. Kneading this type of dough develops gluten strands that, like the god of thunder, traps air vortex’s and hammer airy holes into the breads interior. The doughs used here create the chewy, tough breads that even two goats would have a hard time gnawing through. (Get it? See what I did there? Toothgnasher and toothgrinder? No? Fine, nevermind, moving on.)
Self-Rising Flour <Iron Man>: Self-rising flour is essentially all-purpose flour…that can fly. It does this by surrounding itself with “jet packs” in the form of baking powder, giving supersonic flight to any dough or batter it’s put in. Similar to Tony Stark, in the beginning all it wanted was to help out- it was marketed to housewives as a convenience. However, the amount of baking powder each brand contains is not regulated by the FDA or any other governing board- making it a loose cannon when in the wrong hands (I’m looking at YOU, Ivan Vanko.) All in all, Self Rising Flour gives a fun, theatrical lift to our pizza dough, but like Iron Man, he can’t be the only hero or else his overinflated ego, and our pizza, would explode from too much hot air.
So how was that for our first Pizza Class together? I bet from now on when you see bread flour, you’ll also imagine Demi-gods with hammers lol. Or a bag of All-Purpose Flour with a shield, LOL. But it’ll hopefully also help you envision what each of these ingredients do in relation to cooking and baking. You now know when you add Self-Rising Flour to something that it’s going to puff up without the help of adding more chemical leaveners. I hope this was informative for you, but also delicious.
I went with a Greek Santorini-inspired pizza here in terms of my toppings, but you can do whatever you like. Feel free to experiment—I found all these toppings at my Whole Foods salad bar, meaning you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get delicious pizzas at home. I also enclosed a recipe for my amazing Sweet Summer Basil Vinaigrette that is phenomenal on this pizza, but it’s going to become a staple in your house this summer drizzled on veggies, glazed over grilled meat, or on a salad. It packs a punch of flavor and takes only minutes to make!
*Pro Tip: You can also grill the pizza by sliding the rolled out dough (without toppings yet!) onto a pre-heated grill over indirect heat with the lid closed for 3 minutes on each side. Then quickly add your toppings, sauce and cheese and close grill again for 3-4 minutes allowing the cheese to melt. This is my favorite way to make pizzas because the heat from the bottom grates make a great crisp to the pizzas texture along with a smoky char flavor that’s reminiscent of balmy summer cookouts; a welcome reminder that warmer weather really is on it’s way, despite the gloomy and cold remnants of a long Midwest winter that’s definitely overstayed it’s welcome.
Santorini Pizza Toppings:
(Amounts listed are for an individual pizza portion; double the quantities for one full-size pizza)
4 quartered Artichoke hearts
¼ C. Black olives
5-6 cherry tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
½ sliced red onion
½ zucchini, chopped
½ C. Feta cheese, crumbled
½ C. Marinara or pizza sauce
½ Grilled Chicken breast, chopped
1 Tbsp. Sweet Summer Basil Vinaigrette, recipe below
Matty B’s Pizza Dough Recipe
Yield: 2 full pizzas or 4 small individual sized pizzas
1 ½ C. Water at 105 degrees
1 packet quick rise yeast
¼ C. Honey
1 Tbsp Barley Malt Syrup (optional)
2 C. All-Purpose Flour
1 C. Self-Rising Flour
1 C. Bread Flour
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
1-2 tbsp olive oil
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the honey and water quickly to dissolve. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let it sit for about 5 minutes or until foamy.
Add the salt and the flours, mixing until combined with a dough hook attachment on a stand mixer. Knead for 4 minutes on low/medium-low speed until a smooth dough starts to form.
Remove dough from mixer and knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes. Place in a clean bowl that has about 1 tbsp olive oil in it, flipping the dough so all sides have oil on it and a skin doesn’t form. Cover the bowl with a clean towel dampened with a little water and place in a warm, draft-free place and let rise for 2 hours. (Usually this means in my oven with it turned off but warm) Dough will get VERY puffy!
Punch the dough down once and then cut it in half, or if you’re making four mini pizzas cut both half again into quarters. Re-roll into balls again (And if you want to freeze them for later this is when you want to wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, place in zip-top bags and put in the freezer!) If you’re making them today, place back into bowls and cover again to allow final proof for about an hour, again in a warm, draft-free place.
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees for about 30 minutes beforehand with a pizza stone already in the oven to heat up. Roll dough out on a lightly floured counter into desired shape. Transfer disc onto a floured pizza peel or back of a baking sheet and reduce the heat to 450 degrees. Top the pizza with your desired toppings, sauce and/or cheese, slide onto the hot pizza stone carefully and bake for about 15 minutes, or until crust is brown and bubbly and cheese is melted and gooey! Carefully remove by lifting up the edge of the crust (with heat-proof gloves on, please!) and sliding the pizza peel all the way under it to pull it out. Let cool slightly before cutting and eating!!
Sweet Summer Basil Vinaigrette
1 C. Basil leaves, fresh
1 garlic clove
¼ C. Olive Oil
1 ½ Tbsp rice wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
½ Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp lemon juice
In a food processor, process garlic and basil until finely chopped. Then add in the oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt, pepper and lemon juice and process until smooth.
Pour over your pizza, or a salad, even vegetables!