Dough reacts differently in different ovens, and when our restaurant dough is baked in a home oven the result is a thick and doughy crust—not at all like those that come out of our extremely hot wood-fired ovens. My challenge for The Mozza Cookbook was to come up with a recipe for a pizza dough that, when baked in a home oven, resulted in a crust that was as close to what we get out of our pizza ovens as possible. And with the invaluable help and relentless persistence of Jon Davis, a breadbaker whom I've worked with since I hired him at La Brea Bakery more than twenty years ago, we came up with this recipe.
The dough is made with a sponge, which means that half of the flour is fermented, or aged, for a period of time—in this case, for an hour and a half—before being mixed with the remaining ingredients. This is a breadbakers' trick to coax the subtle flavor characteristics from the flour in a relatively short period of time. I have also made this dough without the sponge, adding all of the flour and water at once and saving that hour and a half of fermenting time. If you are pressed for time, you can do this, and though you might lose a bit of flavor, it will still be better than most pizzas I've been served in the States. You will need a scale to make this recipe. Bread making, or in this case pizza dough making, is so specific, there is no way around it. When making the dough, it's important to time it so that it's ready when you want to make your pizzas.
Makes enough dough for 6 pizzas; each pizza serves 1
- 22 ounces warm tap water (2 cups, 6 ounces)
- 1⁄2 ounce (1 Tbsp) compressed yeast or 1 tsp active dry yeast
- 26 ounces unbleached bread flour, plus more as needed
- 1⁄2 ounce (1 Tbsp) dark rye flour or medium rye flour
- 1 1⁄2 tsp wheat germ
- 1 1⁄2 tsp barley malt or mild-flavored honey, such as clover or wildflower
- 1⁄2 ounce (1 Tbsp) kosher salt
- Olive oil, grapeseed oil, or another neutral flavored oil, such as canola oil, for greasing the bowl
To make the sponge, put 15 ounces of the water and the yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer and let it sit for a few minutes to dissolve the yeast. Add 13 ounces of the bread flour, the rye flour, and the wheat germ. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients. Wrap the bowl tightly in plastic wrap and tightly wrap the perimeter of the bowl with kitchen twine or another piece of plastic wrap to further seal the bowl. Set the dough aside at room temperature (ideally 68 to 70 degrees) for 1 1⁄2 hours.
Uncover the bowl and add the remaining 7 ounces of water, the remaining 13 ounces of bread flour, and the barley malt. Fit the mixer with a dough hook, place the bowl on the mixer stand, and mix the dough on low speed for 2 minutes. Add the salt and mix on medium speed for 6 to 8 minutes, until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Note that the dough will not pull so much that it completely cleans the bowl, but if the dough is too sticky and is not pulling away from the sides at all, throw a small handful of flour into the bowl to make it less sticky. While the dough is mixing, lightly grease with olive oil a bowl large enough to hold the dough when it doubles in size. Turn the dough out of the mixer into the oiled bowl. Wrap the bowl as before. Set the dough aside at room temperature for 45 minutes. Dust your work surface lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Acting as if the round has four sides, fold the edges of the dough toward the center. Turn the dough over and return it, folded side down, to the bowl. Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and set it aside for 45 minutes.
Dust your work surface again lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Divide the dough into six equal segments, each weighing approximately 7 ounces. Gently tuck the edges of each round of dough under itself. Cover the dough rounds with a clean dishtowel and let them rest for 5 minutes.
Lightly flour your hands and use both hands to gather each round of dough into a taut ball. Dust a baking sheet generously with flour and place the dough rounds on the baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with the dishtowel and set them again at room temperature for 1 hour to proof the dough. (Or leave the dough on the counter to proof instead.)
Excerpted from The Mozza Cookbook by Nancy Silverton with Matt Molina and Carolynn Carreno. Copyright © 2011 by Nancy Silverton. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.