The Most Excellent Pizza and Focaccia Dough Recipe

pizza dough recipe by hand

Bomb pizza and focaccia dough recipe – ya ready!?  

One thing I learned quickly during lockdown in Italy…pretty much everyone has a recipe for scratch pizza dough at home.

Early on – and, for weeks – there was a shortage of both flour and yeast for pizza dough. Denise of Castello di Sinio and I kept promising il ragazzino that we’d make pizza but kept coming up short of those necessary ingredients. Let me tell you, trying to explain to a three-year-old we can’t make pizza dough at home is not at all easy.

But, somehow we got through it. And, I think the little man agrees that it was well worth the wait.

Denise’s method makes enough for two serving sizes, so she adjusted half to for her focaccia dough recipe. When il ragazzino saw her potato focaccia over video chat, he was smitten – definitely my kid. He talked about it for days until we made it ourselves. (Spoiler alert: it is brilliant.)

pizza dough at home

But, let’s start with the basics of Denise’s pizza and focaccia dough recipe:

  • Kitchen professionals talk in flour by weight, then go by ingredient percentages; the reason you may see water measurements in percentages for a pizza and focaccia dough recipe. Example: 1 kg flour (1000 grams)70% water (700 grams)1% yeast (10 grams)
    • 3% salt (30 grams)
  • The amount of water you need depends on the type of flour you use, your oven, and desired results (pizza versus focaccia). 
  • Flour strength is a big factor. The best flour for pizza is medium-strong; it is good for 60 to 70 percent hydration. Stronger flour absorbs as much as 100 percent of water. 
  • For pizza dough at home, Denise suggests 75 percent water as it offers a good level of hydration, but not too much; the best flour for pizza for a beginner is no more than 75 percent hydration – much higher generally makes it too difficult. 
  • One thing that is important to note is about when to add the salt for making your pizza dough at home. Denise explains that it slows down the action of the yeast, so we always add it partway through the dough prep; mix in after you add about half or so of the flour as the flour acts as a protection.

We’ll start here with Denise’s basic (and easy) pizza and focaccia recipe. Then, I’ll add some variations, particularly of focaccia – and, yes, the potato focaccia is coming.

For the pizza dough at home, use Denise’s marinara sauce. Then, whip up a salad, using her wine with salad formula for a perfect meal – and, don’t forget the wine!

yeast for pizza dough

Denise's Excellent Pizza & Focaccia Dough Recipe

A great all-purpose focaccia dough recipe. Make it in a smaller jelly roll pan if you like it higher and fluffier or in a larger pan stretching the dough thinner to make it more in the style of Focaccia from Genova, which is thinner with a higher oil to bread ratio. I do both depending on the use. It is only truly great eaten the same day. 
BUT, it is fantastic the next day or sliced into longer thinner cuts and reheated in a frying pan, turning it over to brown on all sides. Use a little extra virgin olive oil in the pan to fry the focaccia. It makes great sandwich bread this way or serves as a perfect accompaniment to soup. 
It is important to respect the salt measurements. They are perfect just as they are, so resist tinkering with that! Makes 1 medium size pan, enough for 8 to 10 people and you will have leftovers (hopefully!) if the focaccia is part of a breadbasket.
Be sure to put your leftover focaccia in a plastic bag and refrigerate.
Author: Denise Pardini, Hotel Castello di Sinio

Ingredients

Focaccia Ingredients:

  • 2 cups lukewarm water (between 85° - 95°F / 30° - 35°C)
  • 2 TBS granulated sugar
  • 2 TBS active dry yeast (1⅓ pkg) or 15 grams fresh active yeast
  • 6 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4¾-5 cups all-purpose flour

For Pizza Dough

  • cup flour; knead the dough for about 10 minutes.

Instructions

  • Put 2 cups of lukewarm water in a large bowl.  Stir in sugar. Sprinkle yeast over top of the water and allow to soften for a minute. Then stir to combine.
  • Mix in the 6 TBS olive oil.
  • Add 1 cup flour, stirring in using a large whisk until all lumps disappear. 
  • Add the 2 tsp salt and mix well.
  • Add remaining flour, ½ cup at a time until all flour is used, stirring vigorously after each addition, leaving perhaps the last ½ cup if the dough does not seem to want to take it.  The dough should be soft, sticky, and not completely smooth looking.
  • Oil a large bowl and scrape the dough into it. Drizzle a little more oil on top and rub the surface of the dough so it does not form a crust. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about two hours in a warm draft-free area until it has doubled in volume. There will be no need to punch down and do a second rise.
  • (If you are making the dough ahead for next day baking, place in refrigerator at this point, covered, in a container big enough to allow it to rise.)
  • For same day focaccia, when the dough has doubled in volume. Oil a 15x10x1 inch baking sheet. Slide dough out onto the prepared pan. The dough will be very soft and slightly sticky.
  • Gently pull, stretch, and push dough so that it covers the sheet and fills corners. Press your fingertips all the way into the dough all over to make indentations. 
  • Drizzle all over with another 1 TBS olive oil, then sprinkle with herbs and the 1 tsp flaked salt.
  • Let rise in a warm draft-free area until puffed about 15 minutes.
  • Put in a preheated oven (392° F / 200° C) and place rack in center of oven. Bake focaccia until golden brown, about 20 to 22 min. Allow it to cool a couple of minutes then transfer to a rack to cool slightly.
  • Cut with a serrated knife and serve while still warm.

Pizza Reheating Instructions

  • Heat up in your skillet. Put a little olive oil in the pan over low heat. Cut the pizza into the size you want. I usually cut squares. Toast slowly on all sides, especially the bottom, but be careful because it can burn easily.
  • Depending on your toppings, you could turn it over just at the last moment for a few seconds. But it will heat through and make sure you get a nice crunchy bottom. Don’t be afraid to add enough oil to make it crisp up good!

Notes

Copyright Denise Pardini 2008 - 2020, hotelcastellodisinio.com

wine with salad

Salad and Pizza Wine Pairing

Let’s make a meal out of it! First, simmer that yummy basic marina sauce for your at-home pizza making. After making your pizza dough recipe by hand, do a simple salad. Try Denise’s Bistrot Salad or Red, White & Greens Salad.

Then, pick your wine. For our first homemade pizza, I had some Langhe Freisa leftover from our Spring Stew, so I just finished it up. The wine was frizzante and those bubbles went well with sausage pizza.

But, the salad and pizza wine pairing that really blew my mind with an indigenous Piedmont wine: Grignolino d’Asti.

Wine with pizza: Crivelli Grignolino d’Asti 2018

Admittedly, gringolino is a Piedmont wine I’ve overlooked for too long. It’s very simple and light, in my experience often drinks like a rosé. Earlier this year, I tasted it again during a winery visit at Gianni Doglia in the Monferrato. I did a double-take – it wasn’t the ‘simple’ wine I remembered. Then, during lockdown, Stefano of La Vite Turchese gifted me one of his favorites from Crivelli.

Stefano is from Asti, where the gringolino grape is indigenous. He remembers this ancient Piedmont wine served at all his family’s big Sunday meals. It went with every course, from antipasti to homemade ravioli, meats, and dolce of cake and dried fruits. “My uncles drank this wine with every food because it was capable of accompanying every taste perfectly.” He said. 

Well, now I get it.

The wine has lively red fruits and spice. I’ve long thought of it pretty strictly as a summer red but it’s a more intense grape with high tannins and great acidity. In fact, it was more commonly used as a winter warmer in the area.

That said, I was just amazed by its versatility; perfect fruitiness for the simple red sauce-based Margherita pizza, but it showed an unexpected power and heft with the more intense salad elements I included – richer, fatty pancetta and earthy vegetables of sauteed mushrooms and asparagus.

If you haven’t tried gringolino, give it a go.

And, stick around for more variations to top the pizza and focaccia dough recipe!

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Chef Denise Pardini, Hotel Castello di Sinio:

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