No-knead pizza dough

No-knead pizza, crumb shot

Is it lazy to take shortcuts? Does it make you less legitimate as a cook, or less dedicated? Can a guy who rallied against instant pancake mix maintain any integrity as he posts his second no-knead dough recipe?

No, no, and sure he can.

The thing about a shortcut is that it's only worthwhile if it still gets you to your destination. If you cut through some side streets and wind up going the opposite direction, it's not a shortcut, it's the wrong way. The same is true for cooking — Sandra Lee's corner cutting is an embarrassing false economy, but true shortcuts make you more efficient and remove some of the frustration that can bog down even the most enthusiastic cooks.

For me, kneading is a step I will happily forgo. Medium hydration doughs are actually quite therapeutic to knead by hand, but the two doughs I make most often are either relatively stiff pasta dough, or pizza dough. I love the big, random air bubbles and thin, crunchy crust that high hydration gives a pizza dough, but if you've ever tried to hand knead something that sticky you'll forgive me for taking the easy way out. This recipe is only 65% water, next time I plan to go ever higher.

Bakers who know about the science of bread may shake their head at this recipe, but the fact remains that it produces a damn tasty pizza base. The extended rest boosts the flavour, and it develops enough gluten to give the dough some chew thanks to the large amount of water. I haven't reached (homemade) pizza heaven yet, but I can see the light and I'm floating towards it.

Recipe after the jump.

No-knead pizza dough

Making the dough

Ingredients, bakers % in brackets (makes 1 pizza):

  • 168 g flour (100%)
  • 4.2 g instant dry yeast (2.5%)
  • 2.5 g salt (1.5%)
  • 110 ml warm water (65%)
  • Olive oil

1. Combine the yeast, flour, and salt in a large bowl and mix through to distribute. Add the warm water and stir with a sturdy wooden spoon or spatula until the dough has come together as one ball.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and sprinkle on top with a little flour to make the outside dry enough to handle. It will look like a sorry, straggly excuse for bread dough: this is normal.

No-knead pizza dough

3. Coat the inside of the bowl fairly generously with olive oil (about 2 tbsp), then place the dough ball inside. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for 2 days.

Cooking the pizza

Although this is a mostly passive process, keep in mind you will need to start it 2 hours before you want to eat.

1. Remove the dough from the fridge and turn it out onto a lightly floured board. You don't have to be careful here — it might stick to the bowl a bit, but just pull it or use a spatula to help scrape it off. It will have risen quite a bit in the last two days, so bash it down to flatten all of the air bubbles1.
2. Place it back in the bowl, ensuring it's well coated with olive oil (the next time you take it out it will matter if it sticks and you tear it). Leave in a warm place for 1.75 hours. An hour before you're ready to bake, place a large cast iron pan in your oven and turn the oven to its hottest setting2.
3. Remove the dough ball, and gently stretch it out until it's about half a centimeter thin in the middle. Don't roll it flat, this will squash all of those bubbles you just made.
4. Pull the cast iron pan out of the oven and slide the dough onto it. Put your toppings on, working as quickly as possible, then transfer to the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden.

(1) You could even knead it for 30 seconds or so (it will be much more manageable by now), but then it wouldn't be no-knead dough anymore.
(2) We're basically doing the same thing we did for the naan bread a made a while back.

No-knead pizza dough, baked

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