This is what we are calling Lockdown Pizza Dough Recipe and it will produce a great Neapolitan Style Pizza using the standard domestic oven you have in your kitchen. There is no need for a special high temperature Wood, Gas or Electric Pizza Oven with this recipe.

Like most people, during these lockdowns over the past year I’ve tried new and different things to keep life interesting with the little extra time I’ve had on my hands. Things to do in the kitchen have been high up there on the ‘try something new’ list. I’ve made bread the hard way using a homemade sourdough starter, pickled the contents of the fridge (and promptly been told off for using all the veg) and cooked numerous recipes from various new cookbooks that arrived on the doorstep.

Good quality homemade pizza was something I wanted to achieve as my family and I have really missed going to our local Italian. After some experimentation, endless searches on the web and watching heaps of YouTube videos I accidentally hit the jackpot: Pizzas made at home that everyone agrees are better than the ones we used to get out at restaurants!

To make great pizza you need two things, firstly great pizza dough and secondly great pizza sauce. I’m going to share both my recipes for fun and by popular demand, you can find my Lockdown Pizza Sauce Recipe here.

This Lockdown Pizza Dough Recipe will make 4 x 300g doughballs which will give 4 x delicious 12 inch diameter thin base pizzas with puffy crusts. I’ve experimented and know that it can be adjusted in direct ratios using a calculator and the recipe works just the same, so if you want more dough to feed 6 mouths just multiply everything by 1.5 or divide by two and serve 2.

Ingredients:

A Pizza Stone – I’m using a rectangular pizza stone from Unicook that I was able to source from Amazon. I had another thinner one too but it cracked after very little use so I assume was it just poor quality. The Unicook one is just over a centimetre thick.

466ml Luke Warm Water – We filter our water to get rid of chlorine so if you can too great if not don’t worry about it. I am thinking Chlorine and yeast won’t be happy together but nothing I’ve read so far mentions it.

700g Pizza Flour – I’ve been using Blue Caputo ‘00’ Pizzeria Flour. I assume any strong plain flour will work but I haven’t tried. In my head, if I want to make good Italian style pizza then I need to use the flour that good Italian Pizza Chefs would use too right? Caputo Blue seems to be widely used but there are loads available, Molino Dallagiovanna is another popular one, again I haven’t tried it. I could bore you with the technicalities I’ve learned about the grind (’00’ represents the grind or fineness of the flour) and hydration capabilities of different flours but really, it’s not that important in this situation as this recipe works. Basically, if you want to make pizza, buy pizza flour, follow the ratios here and you should be good to go.

23g Olive Oil – I don’t know if it matters what type you use but I’ve been using Extra Virgin, it’s just the stuff in our cupboard and so far, no problems.

11g Salt – We’ve got the large salt crystal style salt in our cupboard so I’ve been mashing up the crystals in a pestle and mortar before adding to the mix.

5g Honey – I do not really know what 5g of honey actually looks like and that’s because I don’t want to pour it into a cup, weigh it and then waste some by trying to pour the honey out of the measurement vessel into something else. When I say 5g of honey, what I really mean is a good splodge or decent squirt, basically what looks like about a tablespoon squeezed into the bowl.

5g Yeast – I’m using Caputo Italian Dried Yeast in a little green tin (because the place that sold me the flour sold it also) but I imagine any yeast would work such as the stuff you get in the little foil package for bread making. If you are using the foil packets and it doesn’t quite contain 5g of yeast don’t worry about it just use one packet don’t open another one and waste some yeast. Some of the recipes that I have seen say 2-3g others say 5-6g. I am using 5g each time, I haven’t tried more or less and nor have I tried fresh yeast.

The method:

Step 1: Pour the water into a mixing bowl and add the yeast and honey. Mix them with your hand until all the yeast is dissolved and you can’t feel any sticky honey bits. You should end up with a beige watery solution. Leave this mix for a couple of minutes while you go and weigh the flour.

Step 2:  Add 500g of the flour to the bowl and mix well. At the start of lockdown I was doing this by hand because I’ve seen  all the YouTube pizza chefs doing it this way however now I’m doing this whole dough making process in a mixer bowl and using a dough hook to do the mixing for me because it’s way easier and the difference in the end products is imperceptible. Once everything is mixed well with no lumps and it’s nice and consistent, cover and leave in a warmish place for at least an hour.

Step 3: When you come back to the covered bowl you should see some bubbles in the mix from the yeast getting happy. Add the remaining flour salt and olive oil and mix well. If doing this by hand, start in the bowl then tip everything out onto a flowered kitchen surface and begin kneading, stretching and folding and turning as you go and eventually the dough will become elastic and smooth. This process by hand takes about 5 to 10 minutes. If you are using a mixer to do this just add the flour, oil and salt into the bowl and let the dough hook do its thing for five minutes. Scrape the mix from the edges if necessary to get make sure all the mix gets stretched.

Step 4: Flour your hands and the kitchen surface then tip the dough out and shape into nice round or roll. Use a knife or a dough cutter to divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. they should be about 300g each.

Step 5:  Work each piece of dough into a ball in your hands, rolling from front to back while turning at the same time. The action is a little bit like folding a pair of socks and should leave a a nice smooth dome on the top of the ball.

Step 6: Place the balls onto a floured dough tray leaving space for them to expand or into lightly oiled bowls. gently oil the surface of the balls and cover with cling film or a damp tea cloth and leave for a minimum of one hour in a warmish place to rise. I tend to leave mine about 2-3 hours and when I come back bowls of expanded and become nice and bubbly.

Step 7: After they have risen the dough is ready to make pizzas so flour your hands and the work surface. Use a spatula, dough paddle or burger slice to remove a dough ball from the tray (use your hand if they’re in bowls) and transfer it to the floured surface. Most experienced pizza chefs roll the balls in the bowl of flour then begin stretching, turning and spinning into a pizza base. I haven’t attempted the stretching technique yet as I’m always in need of a guaranteed result, so I just put them on flowered parchment paper and dust them from above.

Step 8: Using your fingertips on both hands, start in the centre push down gently then. Stretch the dough out towards the edges turning the dough as you go. Work your way outwards leaving a round edge unworked by your fingers, this will become the puffy crust. You should end up with something resembling a pizza base approximately 12 inches in diameter. This process is a bit fiddly at first so go slowly and keep flouring your hands. If you stretch the dough in the middle a little bit too thin or you get a hole then just cut a piece of dough from the edge, flatten it out and use it as a puncture repair patch.

Cooking: The typical domestic electric oven tops out at about 250 to 270 Degrees Celsius. 40 minutes to an hour before you plan on cooking your pizzas, put the stone into the oven and turn it up to the max to get the stone hot all the way through. Add your sauce and toppings to the pizza base, lightly brush the crust with olive oil and transfer to the oven for baking. I’m using a pizza peel and parchment paper which makes life really easy. Experienced pizza chefs don’t use parchment paper and use something like semolina flour on a flat surface. I tried that method once but ended up with a pizza that was shaped like Africa missing some toppings after trying to get it on to and off pizza peel so I didn’t bother trying again. Even though it was the wrong shape and missing some bits the pizza was still delicious.

After 6-8 minutes your pizza will be cooked so remove from the oven, chop into slices using a pizza wheel or blade, serve and enjoy!