Nothing beats the smell of a fresh pizza being peeled off the stone, straight from a blazing hardwood fire. The key to doing wood-fired pizza the right way is to have a super thin crust, one that cooks in a handful of minutes, and gets crisp and delicious in just the time it takes to melt the cheese. Where are you going to get dough for a crust like that? At the store? Not a chance, bub.
You are going to do this the old fashioned way. Bust out the flour and yeast and a bit of elbow grease and make it yourself – you will be glad you did. As my neighbours say, “Thats-a da way you gotta do it, si?”
Start with five simple ingredients:
175 ml ( 3/4 cup) of warm (not hot, but pretty warm) water
Pinch of sugar
7 grams (1/4 oz) of yeast (that’s one packet if you buy it that way)
Pinch of salt
400 ml (1 and 3/4 cup) of unbleached flour
And you really want a good mixer with a dough hook. If you are bereft in this area you can do this by hand. But I really prefer the mixer. Just saying.
Okay. Put your warm water into your mixer bowl, add the pinch of sugar, sprinkle on the yeast, and stir gently until the yeast is evenly spread into the water. Wait five minutes to give the yeast a chance to bloom. Then put your bowl into the mixer, attach the dough hook, dump in the flour and the salt and turn it on low until the dough comes together in a ball on the hook. If you are doing this by hand, stir in the flour and salt with a fork until you get a clump of dough that you can work with.
Once you have your ball/clump/lump/whatever, turn it out onto a heavily floured counter or work surface. Your ball might be pretty sticky at this point, but this is fine. You will be able to knead 50 or 60ml (about 1/4 cup) of the flour on your board into the dough. Gently knead it, working in the extra flour until you get a smooth and sliky-elastic dough. You will know when you get it, trust me.
Form it into a ball, put it into a big clean and lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place for an hour. It will more than double in size. Once it does, stick it in the fridge for another hour to give all that delicious gluten a chance to build a nice light structure.
And ba-da-bing, you’re done! This will roll out into a very thin large size pizza. And you want to get the crust as thin as you can get it. The thinner the better. Then top it with whatever you like and cook it on a stone over a hot hot hot (did I mention that it should be hot?) wood fire. As a reference, I do this on my Big Green Egg at about 750 degrees, and cook it for 4 minutes.
Remember – thin thin thin and hot hot hot.