Knowing how to make pizza dough is a basic requirement for any decent pizza restaurant that aspires to earn its customers’ affection.
But what about making the PERFECT pizza dough?
This is not as obvious as it might look. Pizza is one of the most beloved dishes in the world, especially in the US, and for good reasons. With its crispy crust, gooey cheese, and endless topping choices, it’s hard to resist a delicious slice.
However, being able to make a truly great pizza that sets your restaurant apart from the competitors, it’s rather tough…
… and most often is a matter of dough!
The dough is in fact the foundation of pizza and sets the tone for the entire dish. As a pizza restaurant owner or chef, it’s essential to know how to make an outstanding one. Where “outstanding” means a dough that differentiates your product from the others around.
Is there a unique, perfect dough that will please ANY customer?
This is a tricky question, with a simple answer.
There’s no unique recipe for pizza dough, because every chef has their own philosophy and personal touch! Also, there are several kinds of crust, and people have different preferences. Whether in Italy the most traditional and beloved one is the authentic, fluffy neapolitan dough, according to YouGov people around the US are split between those who prefer thin, crispy, crust and those who appreciate more regular crust.
If you try to please anybody, you’ll end up not pleasing anyone. Choose instead your own style and focus on the niche that fits best your personal dough style. The important thing is: always ensure top quality, regardless of your chosen crust type!
Now we’ll explore the key components of a professional pizza dough recipe, including the ingredients, mixing process, and fermentation techniques, to help you make the best pizza dough possible for your restaurant.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting, in this blog post we’ll give you some precious tips to create a truly unforgettable pizza experience for your customers.
3 (+ 1) gold tips for a perfect pizza dough
1. Which ingredients do the dough need?
The dough has 4, very simple ingredients: flour, yeast, water, and salt. From these 4 ingredients you can obtain any kind of dough. It’s like colors: with a few basic ones, you can create any kind of shade of rainbow!
The key to customize your personal version is the ratio of all these ingredients you’ll be using. It’s all a matter of balance, technique and personal choice.
What you really need to know is that in Naples they commonly use a highly refined flour (00 type). The reason is: the dough will be lighter compared to other kinds of flour, and overall the pizza crust will probably be tastier.
2. Hydration: better low or high?
A key component that will determine your final dough’s texture and taste is hydration.
Every pro pizza maker in Italy has its own recipe, and their own recipe includes the percentage of hydration of the dough. The authentic pizza in Napoli has a very high hydration level that makes it thicker, soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside.
In other words, it tastes like heaven.
Nevertheless, adjusting that percentage of water (that on average ranges around 55-65%, and above 70% in Naples) will change the final outcome.
Making it simple, we might say that a high hydrated dough gives you a thicker crust, with air bubbles inside that make the pizza overall pleasant to the bite and easier to digest.
Lower level of hydration instead gives you a thinner pizza, with a crispier crust. Whether this might not be ideal for an Italian, around 30% of Americans prefer it.
3. How to control hydration properly?
Once you’ve picked your preferred hydration level, you need to learn how to balance and control it.
This is mainly a matter of trying again and again, making mistakes and learning from them until you reach your desired result.
By the way, keep in mind two important things.
First: the more salt you use, the lower your hydration and vice versa.
If you’re seeking a higher hydration, add more water and less salt. If you wish for a lower hydration dough, you can add a pinch more salt and reduce water. Do your own experiments until you’re satisfied.
Second: if you want to obtain a great, high hydration Napoli style pizza, don’t use low temperature ovens.
This is an essential rule: the stronger the heat, the better the pizza (and the better will be your production efficiency and therefore your restaurant’s profitability). But if you’re looking for a high hydrated dough, this rule becomes even more important.
We already talked about the best commercial oven available on the market here. Check it out!
Bonus tip: the “Secret” of Neapolitan Pizza: Making “Biga”
One of the secrets for a mesmerizing pizza in true Napoli style is using the so-called “biga”.
The biga works as a yeast, and can therefore be used as a substitute for both instant yeast and sourdough starter in recipes that make use of them. Its strong gluten network is obtained both from the use of strong flours that contain a lot of protein to form the gluten, and from the high presence of lactic acid.
If you are wondering what a biga actually is, the simplest definition is that of a pre-dough.
This preparation is truly useful, with many significant qualities. First of all, it preserves all the properties of the flour, even after the dough is cooked. Also, it increases the lightness of the finished product, and enhances its flavors and aroma.
But most importantly, it is particularly suitable for obtaining a soft dough, with a crunchy crust.
But how to make a proper biga? Although this preparation is quite uncommon among average pizza makers, it’s definitely something you can learn with a guide.
Don’t worry! We’ll cover this topic in more depth with another blog post, dedicated to explain how to make a perfect biga.
A perfect dough for a delicious pizza
It might be tough… to make perfect dough!
As we pointed out at the beginning of this blog post, there is not a unique recipe to make a single type of perfect dough. Every pro pizza maker or chef has their own recipe, with their personal mix of the 4 basic ingredients, their hydration level and therefore balance between water and salt…
But what really matters is possessing an adequate understanding of the science behind the dough and the relative skills to make it. Once you have mastered the basics, the best thing you can do is to develop your own recipe to fit the preferences of a niche of customers and make your restaurant unique to them.
Regardless of the recipe you’ll choose, the best rule you can follow is: never compromise on quality.
If you aspire to transform your pizza restaurant into a must-visit destination for any gluttony in your city, we’re to help you.
Contact us now to get our advice and a quote for the top level pizza equipment available on the market!