Shaping and Final Proofing of Pizza Dough
- Remove dough from bowl. The dough should be smooth on the surface and have a good amount of elasticity to it. If you doubled the recipe for two pizzas divide the dough equally now. Create the final shaping of the dough ball by gently stretching the middle of the dough ball toward the bottom to create a taut surface around the outside of the dough ball with the seam being pulled toward the bottom.
- Lightly coat each dough ball with olive oil or additional flour and place in proofing containers and cover. I like the BPA free Glad 6 quart round containers with a small pinhole in the lid for final proofing, they are the perfect size and can be stacked. Dough should be allow to rise for approximately 60 to 90 minutes, until doubled in size. This gives you a proofed and relaxed dough that is easy to stretch.
- Preheat oven to 500°F (260°C) for about 30 minutes before you are ready to start forming your pizza. (The preheat signal is not always accurate, give your oven an extra 10 minutes after to be sure or use an oven thermometer.)
Forming the Dough in the Pan
- Put about a tablespoon of olive oil on the sheet pan, not an airbake, and with your fingers spread it around evenly. This is more oil than needed to prevent sticking but enough to allow it to cook the crust and add some delicious flavors and textures. If you prefer a butter crust you can substitute, but remember to use the same amount of melted butter.
- Lift the dough out of the bowl, place the top (smooth side) down onto the olive oil. The smooth side is more resistant to sticking so always use that as the bottom when making pizza. Press the center of the dough down gently to create a flat disc. Lift up, keeping in mind the bottom side, and using two fists on the bottom slowly rotate allowing gravity to stretch it out as much as possible. Hold the dough close to the edge and slowly rotate allowing the risen dough to fall naturally. Once you have a somewhat larger round disc shape lay the dough back down on the pan and spread out gently with your fingers. If the dough wants to spring back just hold it in place for 10 seconds.
If you create a small tear during the process of stretching the dough. Fix these by overlapping one side of the tear and press down on it to seal it.
- Once the dough is formed use a fork to make a series of small holes, like perforations over the dough. This is called docking and prevents large air bubbles from forming. You can also use a dough docker for this as well.
Topping the Pizza
Using the sauce created earlier you will want to use about 1/3 of it on one pizza or approximately 4 ounces (120g). Spread evenly and close to the edge. Too much sauce can cause the toppings and cheese to pull off when you bite into it as well as leaving a soggy crust.
For this size of pizza approximately 8 ounces of cheese will be used. You can either use fresh mozzarella or shredded deli mozzarella. If using fresh mozzarella it can generally be purchased in 8 ounce balls, use a chef’s knife to cut the cheese into quarter-inch (6mm) slices and space evenly over the pizza. When the cheese starts to melt it will spread. If you can’t find fresh deli mozzarella check the deli at your local grocery, they should have block mozzarella and ask for just a chunk of cheese so you can use a box grater and shred it yourself or dice it with a chef’s knife. Both types of mozzarella cheeses will give you much better flavor than using pre-shredded cheese from the bags and often times cheaper. For more on cheese visit the Types of Cheese For Pizza page.
Vegetables & Meat
With thin crust pizza you want to avoid using too many toppings. Think about keeping a balance between the crust, sauce, cheese and toppings. Too many toppings and the pizza will be a mess to eat and probably part of them will fall off the sides. When using vegetables slice them thin. Thin slices will cook in the time the pizza is in the oven but thick sliced ones will not leaving raw crunch vegetables on your pizza. Consider sautéing them first over high heat with a bit of olive oil and salt to bring out more flavors. Onions and bell peppers when saluted over a hot heat for 5 minutes in bit of olive oil and pinch of salt before adding them to your pizza brings out a lot more flavor while avoiding that crunchy vegetable texture while eating your pizza.
When using raw meat make sure to fully cook before adding it to your pizza. If using a cured meat such as pepperoni or salami you won’t need to. Meats such as Italian sausage or chicken need to be cooked before using on a pizza.
Baking The Pizza
The oven should be preheated to 500°F (260°C). When you have finished preparing your pizza place the sheet pan in the oven on the middle rack. Allow the pizza to bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the crust turns golden.
Once cooked allow it to rest for a minute or two before cutting. This gives the cheese time to start to solidify back and not run off. Enjoy your wonderful fresh homemade pizza! Be sure to snap a picture of it and share it on our Facebook page or tag it with #TheHomePizzeira. If you have any comments or questions ask in the comment section below and we will answer as soon as we can.