I make cold-proofed pizza dough to cook in both my Ooni and my Roccbox pizza ovens. For pizza with friends, I do 4 or 5 batches of this recipe, and we do a pizza potluck party… I bring the dough, the sauce, and the pizza ovens, and everyone brings their favorite pizza toppings with enough to share.
Cold-proving (or cold-rising) is a technique that slows down the fermentation process. Placing the dough inside your refrigerator for 24 to 72 hours as it ferments allows the yeast to work on the sugars in the flour for a long period of time without becoming exhausted and dying out. The fermentation process is what makes the pizza dough bubbly, tender, and chewy… otherwise the dough would cook up into a hard, biscuit-like substance.
Shaping the dough into balls while it is cold also keeps the air in the fermented dough from escaping, giving us beautifully bubbly crusts. You do have to plan ahead, but it’s really easy to make, and the results are worth the wait.
I use a food scale set to measure in kilograms so that I get the most accurate and predictable results. I also use a heavy-duty stand mixer (KitchenAid) and a dough hook to mix and knead the dough.
I like using 00 flour for pizza crusts. It has a 12.5% protein content which is excellent for pizza (and really chewy bread with great crusts). The 00 refers to the fineness of the grind — this is the finest ground flour. I’ve used both the red bag and the blue bag varieties from Capulto. It may be hard for you to find — another reason to plan ahead. I’ve been told that Whole Foods has it and it can be ordered from Amazon if y’all are still doing that… I guess buying it from WholeFoods is actually much the same these days, sigh…
You can substitute bread flour if you can’t find the 00 flour. I would use a bit more water (325g-350g instead of 300) of water if using bread flour. It also will make a dough that is a bit harder to shape into the pizzas — the dough will bounce back a bit when you stretch it. Making sure it is well-rested will make it a bit easier to stretch.
I make a 60% hydrated dough… the water to flour ratio is 60%. This makes a good dough that is easy to handle.
500 g 00 pizza flour
5 g of dry yeast
8 g sea salt
300 g water at 100 degrees
20 g olive oil
Mix the flour, yeast, and salt together in a large mixing bowl.
Mix the water and oil together.
If using a stand mixer with a dough hook set the mixer at a slow speed and slowly add the water/oil mixture to the flour/salt/yeast mixture.
If mixing by hand I usually pour all the liquids in at once.
Once the mixing is complete it’s time to knead the dough. Kneading causes the proteins in the flour to link up, which is what makes the dough hold together as it is stretched.
If using a mixer I watch the dough and at the point where it all starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and move as a ball around the hook, I start a timer for the kneading.
If mixing by hand, as soon as the dough forms a ball I turn it out onto a well-floured surface for kneading.
The dough should be kneaded for 10 minutes by mixer, or 12-15 minutes by hand.
Spread a small amount of olive oil around the inside of a container large enough to hold twice the volume of your dough. Put the kneaded dough in the container and roll it around to coat the surface with the oil. Cover the container with plastic or another sealing method (not aluminum foil) and place it in the refrigerator.
After the 24-72 hour fermentation period, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Using the food scale, divide it into sections for pizza balls. You shouldn’t need to heavily flour your working surface, but a little dusting of flour does help.
A 160g ball will make a personal size pizza. A 260g ball will make a 12″ pizza, and a 325g ball will make a 16″ pizza. This recipe will make 5 personal pizzas, or 3 12″ pizzas, or 2 16″ pizzas plus one personal pizza.
Don’t over-handle the dough at this point. You will want to gently fold the dough together into a ball, tucking the edges in underneath, and then gently roll it around in your hand until the surface is smooth with no cracks.
The pizza balls should rest for at least an hour if using them that day. If not using them that day, wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them as soon as you are finished making them. When you take them out of the freezer to use, let them thaw completely and then rest at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours before making pizzas.
When you make the crusts you want to gently hand-stretch the dough. If you roll it with a rolling pin you will force most of the air out of the dough which will make your dough rise less as it bakes. Work from the center out, gently pressing the dough into a bigger circle as you go around. You can also hold the dough in your hands and do the same thing by pinching and gently stretching it, turning it in your hands as you go. If you are really confident, you can toss it in the air with a twist and catch it on the knuckles of your fists…
Your goal is a dough that has some thickness to the edge but is quite thin otherwise.
You will want your oven as hot as it can get. My pizza ovens cook at 900F (500C). At that temperature, the pizza cooks just under 2 minutes. Although it can’t reach those temperatures, a regular oven can be upgraded for pizza by using a baking stone or steel. If using one of these, build the pizza on a pizza peel or flat tray and slip it off onto the preheated stone or steel and put it in the oven. If you sprinkle the surface of the tray with cornmeal/cornflour before placing your dough on it, the dough sill slide off onto the stone/steel much easier (an upside-down sheet pan works if you don’t have a pizza peel or flat tray).
The sauce I make is super easy.
I mix one 29oz can of crushed tomatoes and one jar of basil pesto. Viola! Instant pizza sauce.
Toppings we like:
Cheeses – all the cheeses
Meats – sausage, pepperoni, chicken, bacon
Veggies – peppers (including pepperoncinis), artichoke hearts, onions, spinach, olives (black & green), grilled asparagus, broccoli, et cetera
Weirdest pizza we’ve ever made had to be the vegemite, braunschweiger, smoked okra, pepperoncini pizza. The bar-b-que, cheddar, sauerkraut, arugula*, ranch dressing* one was pretty odd too. Both were delicious — or so I was told. They were baked as part of a 60-person pizza potluck. I didn’t get to sample them, I was slinging pizza in and out of two pizza ovens as fast as I could go that night.
*added after baking.