Alton Brown's pizza dough recipe has been on my radar for about 3 years. His recipe is a 65% hydration level, which is pretty close to what we have been doing at the Baking Steel Test Kitchen, though we are closer to 70% hydration. He adds a little bit of sugar, I'm guessing to help with the browning, and a heap of yeast, 9 grams to be exact. Currently, we are using about 1/10 of the amount of yeast in our dough, so this was going to be a very cool test! After mixing the ingredients, the dough goes straight into the refrigerator for 24 hours. I guess Alton Brown is also a believer in a slow and cold fermentation. That doesn't surprise me!
At Baking Steel we are all about testing recipes and making things better! It was a hard challenge with Alton's recipe but we've got an ace in our back pocket. We have the one tool that can make any home pizza better-the Baking Steel! The steel conducts heat and energy to that crust, far superior to any other stone or gadget. Pair the steel with a killer dough recipe, and you know the result is going to be stellar!
Fast forward 24 hours and it's time to give the dough a whirl! Luckily, I had kept the pizza dough in an air tight container with the lid sealed shut. When I removed it from the fridge, it looked like it wanted to blast off! All that yeast had obviously been activated.
So the dough cooked marvelously and the taste was excellent! Because the hydration is a bit lower than our traditional pizza dough, it made it a bit more sturdy. I can see why he brings it on the stage with him...
Alton Browns Pizza Dough Recipe
690 grams bread flour, (plus 1/2 cup or so for shaping)
9 grams active, dry yeast (I use Red Star and no, they don't pay me to say that)
15 grams sugar
20 grams kosher salt
455 grams bottled water
15 grams olive oil (plus extra for brushing crust)
Sauce and pizza toppings as desired
Stand mixer with dough hook
Large mixing bowl (optional)
Wooden pizza peel
Pizza stone or pan or BAKING STEEL
Bench scraper (dough blade) or serrated bread knife
No-stick spray (or more olive oil)
Scale the dry ingredients together and place all the dry ingredients in the work bowl of your stand mixer. Scale the liquids into a measuring cup then add to the dry ingredients.
Install the bowl on the mixer and attach the dough hook and turn the mixer to "stir."
Mix until the dough just comes together, forming a ball and pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Increase the mixer speed to medium (4 on a Kitchen Aid) and knead for 5 minutes.
Remove the dough to a lightly floured countertop and smooth into a ball. Spray a mixing bowl (or the mixer’s work bowl) with no-stick spray or rub with the oil. Place dough in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours.
Remove dough to counter and punch down into a rough rectangle shape then tightly roll into a log 12-15 inches in length. Split the dough into 3 equal parts using the scraper or either a large serrated knife or a dough scraper. Flatten each into a disk, then shape it into a smooth ball by folding the edges of the round in toward the center several times and rolling it between your hands on the counter. You may want to moisten the counter with water to up the surface tension a bit so that the ball tightens up instead of sliding across the counter.
Cover each ball with a clean tea towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes. (At this point you can also transfer doughs to air-tight plastic containers and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Just make sure you bring them to room temp for half an hour before forming.)
To bake, heat oven (pizza stone inside on lower rack) to 500 degrees F, or hotter if possible. Give the oven a good half hour to heat up.
When you're ready to build the pizzas, sprinkle a couple teaspoons of flour on a peel and place the dough right in the middle. Pound the dough into a disk with your hands, then pick it up and pull it through your fingers to create the outer lip, a critical feature that cannot be created with a rolling pin. (In fact, rolling rather than stretching will just ruin the whole gosh-darned thing.)
At this point you need to start stretching the dough. The most-efficient way to do this is to spin the dough so that the weight of the outer lip stretches the dough via centrifugal force. You can also stretch the dough on the board by turning and pulling it, and turning and pulling. Shake the peel from time to time to make sure the dough doesn't stick. Sticking would be bad.
Brush the lip with oil, then dress the pizza with olive oil and tomato sauce. Even distribution is tricky, so you may want to ladle an ounce or two into the middle and then spread it out with the back of the ladle. Top with fresh herbs (oregano and basil) and a good melting cheese. I usually go with a mixture of mozzarella, Monterery Jack and provolone, but that's me.
Slide the pizza onto the hot pizza stone. To do this, position the front edge of the peel about 1-inch from the back of the stone. Lift the handle and jiggle gently until the pizza slides forward. As soon as the dough touches the stone, start pulling the peel back toward you while still jiggling. While a couple of inches of dough are on the stone, quickly snap the peel straight back. As long as the dough isn't stuck on the peel, it will park itself nicely on the stone.
Keep an eye on the dough for the first 3 to 4 minutes. If any big bubbles start ballooning up, reach in with a paring knife or fork and pop them. Bake for 7 minutes or until the top is bubbly. Then slide the peel under and lift to check the underside, which should be nicely brown.
Slide the peel under the pizza and remove to the counter or a cutting board. Let it rest for at least 2 minutes before slicing with a chef's knife or pizza cutter (one of my favorite multitaskers).
Notes: Follow these instructions to mix by hand...