team, this pizza crust is, put modestly, amazing. the modesty continues as i tell you that i took jim lahey’s basic recipe (yes, that jim lahey *salty language warning*), and, uh, improved it.
now, before you go off thinking i’ve lost my mind and/or point out that he is a god among at-home bread makers and i have… no formal culinary training, let me assure you of two things: 1) it was totally by accident and 2) i was pretty sure i had seriously messed up the dough, right up until i tried it.
let me ‘splain.
for a long while, i was consistently using and satisfied-ish with a pizza dough recipe that the author said was a modified version of lahey’s pizza dough. and it was, you know, good, but after awhile, i got sick of it not being amazing (in fairness, i had made some tweaks over time that may have gone off in the wrong direction). so i decided to track down the original lahey recipe to see what the differences were and if going back to the source might yield a better outcome.
happy coincidence had my path cross with lahey’s my pizza cookbook a short time later and i quickly snapped a picture of his basic dough because it’s 2016 and that’s what we do when we want a copy of something.
once i got home, i eagerly tried out the pizza dough recipe. never one to learn my lesson when it comes to tweaking recipes (/isn’t that kind of the whole point of this recipe blog?), right off the bat i started making changes. by which i mean, i forgot to start the dough the requisite 18 hours before dinner time and when i woke up in the morning, i realized we needed dinner… tonight. since 9 is half of 18, i doubled the yeast so that the dough would be ready in half the time and we could eat dinner at a reasonable time for our time zone, rather than a late-ish dinner on hawaiian time.
and the pizza dough was…promising but also kind of a disaster (see #2 above). it was much more finicky and delicate than the dough i was used to working with and i may or may not have stretched portions of that first dough paper thin to the point where huge holes spontaneously appeared. but the taste (and texture, at least in the parts where there was dough, rather than hole) was a definite improvement over my previous go-to pizza dough recipe.
i had noticed when i was mixing it all together that it seemed significantly drier than the dough i was used to working with. the second time i mixed up the dough, it came out dry again. i decided to “fix” this by adding “just” a tablespoon of water, after i had already mixed in the original quantity of water. i’m sure there are serious bakers who just gasped at this BUT, luckily for me, i didn’t know that this is probably not considered a good solution… and it turned out to be so delicious! for serious. the taste. the texture. everything. all i want to eat these days is this double modified dough.
well, technically it’s often triple modified. here’s the truly weird part of my new little path to pizza perfection: because the dough is so soft, it often stretches itself out into a totally unreasonably long rectangle. the first time it did this, i just folded it over on itself because i was hungry and didn’t want to fight with it. when i discovered how even more amazing folded over dough is (what am i even saying?!), i incorporated it into my new pizza dough making routine. i went back to not folded over dough once just to confirm, and the folded over dough is definitely better.
i realize that dough with a 9-hour time frame, unconventional hydration instructions, and folding instructions as if it were a laminated pastry dough, is, at best, difficult for those who work 8+ hours a day and commute to/from work BUT i didn’t want to withhold this pizza dough recipe from you while i keep tinkering to see what happens if… i mean, at the very least you probably have a day or two off each week when you could make this dough (and if you don’t, well, you’re probably not doing a lot of pizza from scratch no matter how may hours the dough needs to rise).
so, here it is. version 1. updates will be forthcoming, as soon as i can convince myself to risk pizza perfection in service of understanding which variations work and which ones we should all stay away from. more to come, but in the meantime while you’re waiting, make this pizza dough!