My ‘best’ pizza dough – with a garlic bread recipe

While you can use almost any ‘standard’ bread recipe with a glug of olive oil to make pizza or garlic bread, with a little extra effort you can create a pizza base that’s really special.

You may think that it’s a bit pointless to make a tasty pizza base, given that most people drown their pizzas in toppings. However, this makes awesome garlic bread and if you use restraint with your pizza toppings, making something more classic Italian than loaded American-style, you’ll definitely notice the difference.

So, while I use a little added sourdough starter in this to add a tang and help with the rise (as I reduce the amount of dried yeast used) you can just use all dried yeast if you do not maintain any wild yeast yourself. The wild yeast does, hand on heart, truly make a difference to the taste but its still quite a nice dough with just 100% fast acting dried yeast, and I’ll indicate the swap in the recipe.

For this recipe I have also produced a YouTube video, in which I go on to cook two garlic breads. I have included the additional garlic bread recipe below, after the dough recipe.

As ever, do please leave a comment if you’ve made this or ask me any questions about it – I’m happy to answer recipe and technique questions.

Video – the full recipe and instructions for this!

Notes

  • Makes two 12 inch pizza/garlic bread bases
  • If you can’t get hold of Italian tipo 00 flour use half plain flour (‘all purpose’ flour in the US) and half strong white bread flour.
  • If you don’t make sourdough bread and therefore don’t have a yeast starter culture, use 7g of dried fast acting yeast (instead of the wild yeast + dried yeast).
  • Don’t substitute dried herbs in this – fresh herbs make such a difference here and also look amazing through the dough.
  • If you have those pizza trays with the punched holes in, to crisp the base as it cooks, you will need to line them with baking paper first. I use these trays and you cannot rest the pizza dough for the second proof in them without a baking paper insert: the dough will sag through the holes, so do prepare them. Solid pizza trays, baking stones and baking trays will only need a light dusting of flour or semolina.

Equipment – for the dough

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Pizza trays or large baking trays
  • Scales, measuring cups and spoons, sharp knife
  • Something to cover the bowl (a shower cap, a clean tea towel, cling film etc)
  • Dough scraper or large knife
  • Rolling pin

Equipment – for the garlic bread

  • Knife
  • A mandolin is useful, although not necessary
  • Small bowl, spoon

Ingredients – for the dough

  • 435g of tipo 00 flour (see notes above)
  • 4g of fast acting dried yeast
  • 1 large teaspoon of wild yeast starter culture (see notes above)
  • 10g fine salt
  • Handful of fresh herbs (I’ve used rosemary, flat leaf parsley, curly parsley, broad leaf thyme – but you can use whatever herb/s you like or have available)
  • 1 tablespoon of good quality extra virgin olive oil – I’ve used Filippo Berio here
  • 255ml of tepid water
  • A little extra of the olive oil for the kneaded dough

Ingredients – for the garlic breads

  • 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature or lightly softened
  • Half a teaspoon of rock salt
  • Two tablespoons of fresh herbs (I used parsley and basil)
  • Half a ball of mozzarella, finely chopped
  • Two or three garlic cloves, finely chopped or crushed
  • One large waxy potato (such as Jersey Royal or Charlotte), very finely sliced

Method

  • Mix the flour, dried yeast, wild yeast starter culture (if using), salt, olive oil, herbs and water into a rough scraggy mess in your large bowl
  • You can use a fork, a dough whisk or your fingers – make sure all the bits of dough stuck to fingers or implements are put back in the bowl
  • Cover the bowl – using a tea bowl, cling film, a shower cap etc
  • Leave for 20 to 30 minutes
  • Tip out the dough onto a clean surface and knead for about 6-8 minutes, until the dough becomes glossier and smoother. You should not require any additional flour for your surface (if you feel you must use some, please use as little as possible)
  • When the dough becomes glossy and smooth, oil your palms a little and work it into the dough for the last couple of kneading movements and for shaping the dough into a ball
  • A final little olive oil on the hands is required to rub the shaped dough, so that it does not stick when rising. Turn the dough back into your bowl, so the seam side is facing upwards
  • Cover again, and proof for up to 1 hour [30 minutes in very hot conditions, to 60 minutes for cooler]

Please note that because you are not using traditional bread dough, this dough does not rise much during either proofing stage

  • After the dough’s first proofing and resting stage, have your pizza trays ready – see notes above for preparation
  • Tip out the dough onto you clean surface and chop in half (you can weight it out exactly if you prefer)
  • Start shaping the dough with your hands and move on to using a rolling pin once you’ve stretched the dough out. Flip the dough over at least once to work the other side while shaping. Stretch and roll the dough to fit your pizza tray; as mentioned, this will make two 12 inch circular pizzas
  • It’s likely that you will not require any additional flour while shaping, not even for the rolling pin. However, should it really stick, use as minimal an amount of flour as possible on the table and rolling pin
  • Once each pizza base is prepared, lay them on your prepared pizza trays
  • Cover the dough and rest for 30 – 60 minutes (depending on how hot your environment is: 30 minutes for a very hot day, 45 for a typical home environment and 60 minutes if it’s cool)

Again, do note that the dough won’t have risen much due to the type of flour used

  • While the dough is proofing, heat your oven to 240 C fan or 260 C convention (top and bottom heat)
  • If you are making the garlic breads (or are going on to make pizzas), prepare your ingredients and toppings now. For the garlic breads:
  • Mix the herbs, salt, garlic and butter together. Chop the mozzarella up finely and slice the potato as thinly as you can (this is where a mandolin slicer would come in handy if you have one) – keep these separated
  • After this final proofing stage, slather half of the garlic butter on each dough base, leaving a 2cm/1 inch rim around the edge
  • On one dough base, layer over the sliced potato and on the other sprinkle over the chopped mozzarella
  • Bake in the oven for 14 minutes. The crust should be puffed up and brown and the garlic butter bubbling. On the potato garlic bread the sliced potatoes will be cooked and starting to crisp at the edges, on the cheesey garlic bread, the mozzarella will be fairly liquified but starting to brown
  • Serve immediately, although it can be eaten cooled

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