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Semolina Pizza Dough – Crispy & Chewy, best ever!!!

I have been on a perfect pizza dough quest for the past 3 years. The search has ended. And that means I have to share the recipe with you, now I can’t keep such a big secret :D  I have made pizzas before and you can even find a simpler recipe here. But I was not quite satisfied with the results; it was quite nice, but not like our favorite pizza from Papa Johns. This crust is very similar to the Papa John’s crust, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. We LOVE it and this is going to be my pizza dough recipe for the rest of my life! Well, unless I decide to try and eat whole grain pizza crust, which is highly unlikely :P I love pizzas and we eat pizza at least once every week and it is always from Papa Johns. But now that I have this recipe, I will definitely be making more pizzas at home rather than a take out.

Now there are a few things you need to make that perfect crust at home:

  • If you are serious about making a good pizza, you need bread flour. No, all purpose flour won’t do. Bread flour has a higher protein content that helps the “gluten” development in the dough, which is responsible for the chewiness. And bread flour is not all that expensive, you just have to look for it in your grocery stores. Or the bulk food sections in organic food stores carry the high protein flour, which is nothing but bread flour.
  • You HAVE to KNEAD the dough. I mean really, really knead. If you have a stand mixer, you are lucky. A food processor does fine too, but still needs some manual kneading. If you are doing it by hand, get ready for an intense workout. Sound’s difficult? Let me give you a little tip here. Whichever method you use, leave the dough slightly on the wet side. Water helps in gluten development. This is the basic principle behind the Artisan Bread in Five minutes a day by Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois.
  • Preheat the oven, with the stone (if using) at least for 30 minutes. The oven has to be HOT when you put in the pizza.
  • A slow risen pizza dough is much more flavorful than a quick risen one. It is advisable to make the pizza dough the night before and let it rise overnight in the fridge. Always bring the dough to room temperature before baking. Leaving it out for about 2 hours  before baking is advisable.
  • Most people say you need a pizza stone to make perfect pizzas. I am sure that is true, but I have had very good results with my trusty pizza pan (from a dollar store, for $3). The important thing is to bake in the lowest rack of the oven. Place the rack in the lowest part of the oven, closest to the heat source.
  • If you use bread flour and it still doesn’t taste like the pizzeria’s, you need to use a secret ingredient – Semolina flour. This is also available in the bulk section of organic food stores and is very inexpensive. It gives a really nice flavor to the pizza dough and a little goes a long way.
  • Once again, sufficiently knead your dough. To check if the dough is ready, pull out a small lime sized ball of the dough. Start stretching it by hand, as you would stretch a pizza. Stretch it as thin as possible without tearing. Now look at a source of light through the thin layer. If the layer is translucent and you can almost see through it, your dough is ready. Baker’s call this as a windowpane test. HERE is a link with a pictorial explanation. Kneading the dough sufficiently makes a lot of difference to the texture of the bread. These are little details you pay attention to and make fabulous bread at home.

Recipe adapted from HERE.

Ingredients:
Makes 2 medium pizzas

Warm water – 1 3/4 cup
Active Dry Yeast – 2 tsp
Sugar/Honey – 1 Tbsp
Bread Flour – 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups
Semolina flour – 1 cup
Salt – 1 tsp
Extra virgin olive oil – 1 Tbsp plus 1 Tbsp
Semolina/cornmeal – as required
Toppings of your choice
Marinara sauce
Hot sauce (sriracha)
Garlic powder (optional)
Dried Italian herbs (especially oregano, optional)
Cheese (I love to use pepper jack and cheddar)

Method:

  • Combine the yeast, sugar and warm water in a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) and let it be for about 5 minutes. When you see the mixture foam up, you know the yeast is ready.
  • Mix in 1 Tbsp of olive oil into the above mixture and whist to mix. Then add in the flour, 2 cups of bread flour and 1 cup of semolina and knead. Add the remaining flour as required, to make a firm, but slightly sticky dough. You can do this step in your food processor.

Tip: In most bread recipe you will notice that the flour measurement is always mentioned as a range, never an exact measurement. This is because the flour will absorb water depending on the protein content. The humidity and temperature of the air in your kitchen will also affect how much water goes into the four. So we keep the volume of water constant and adjust the flour as required.

  • If you are using a stand mixer, increase the speed to medium and continue kneading. If the dough seems too dry at any point, add in a tsp of water. If the dough looks too wet, add in a Tbsp of flour. Knead for 8-10 minutes. If you are kneading by hand, knead for 12-15 minutes.
  • To check if the dough is ready, pull out a small lime seized ball of the dough. Start stretching it by hand, as you would stretch a pizza. Stretch it as thin as possible without tearing. Now look at a source of light through the thin layer. If the layer is translucent and you can almost see through it, your dough is ready. Baker’s call this as a windowpane test. HERE is a link with a pictorial explanation. Kneading the dough sufficiently makes a lot of difference to the texture of the bread. These are little details you pay attention to and make fabulous bread at home.
  • Once the dough is ready, make a smooth, round ball of the dough and coat it with the remaining olive oil. Place this in a large bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. I like to use the bowl of my stand mixer, its deep and perfect. Let the dough rest for about an hour or until doubled in volume.
  • Then you may proceed to make pizzas or freeze the dough for using later. Punch down the dough to remove the excess air and cut the dough into two equal portions. Roll each portion into a smooth ball, by pulling  and tucking it at the bottom.

Tip: What I like to so is, punch down the dough and form a single dough ball. Oil it and put it back in the bowl. The cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Remove the dough at least 2 hours before you plan to make pizzas.

  • If you want to freeze the dough, take a 1 gallon ziploc bag and spray it with non stick spray. Spray the dough ball also and drop it inside the ziploc. Take out all the air and seal the bag. The dough can be frozen for up to 3 months or refrigerated for up to 5 days. Use separate bags for each dough ball. Thaw for a couple of days in the fridge or 4-6 hours on the counter before using. You HAVE to bring the dough to room temperature before using.
  • If you want to proceed and make the pizza, lightly dust your board with flour. Place the dough ball, and roll it out into a 12 inch circle.  Transfer the circle to your pizza peel or baking sheet. Brush the top of your pizza generously with evoo. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for half an hour.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 F. Place the pizza stone (if using) on the lowest rack of the oven and then preheat. Otherwise just place your rack in the lowest groove and preheat.

Note: Many people say that you should bake the pizza at the highest temperature (500-550 F). But I found that the crust became super crispy and lost its chewiness. 450 F works best for me. But if you like, you may heat the oven to 500-550 F and reduce the baking time. In that case the baking time is just 7-8 minutes.

  • Also this is a good time to get your toppings ready. I used some green pepper, red pepper, olives, asparagus spears (yum) and jalapeno pepper. It is a good idea to remove the extra moisture from the jalapeno using a kitchen towel.
  • After about 25-30 minutes, top the dough with your favorite marinara sauce. I like to mix in a Tbsp of hot sauce (sriracha) into my marinara for a spicy kick! Top with the toppings, garlic powder, cheese and herbs.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the crust is golden and cheese is bubbly. If you pick up your baking sheet and shake it, the pizza should come off easily. That means it is perfectly baked. If you are not able to shake the pan and release the pizza, bake for a couple of minutes more.

See that light, airy crust?? Its absolutely incredible! You have to make it to believe it!

 

You might also like:

Pizza – Homemade, better than takeout!

Bread Pizza – Quick & Delicious!

Naan With an Easy Sourdough Starter (Without Yeast)

Focaccia Bread with Sundried Tomatoes

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