I have always wanted to make proper hand-tossed pizza dough, but have not been brave enough to do it until now. I guess I was just overwhelmed by the physics of it all- or how it looked to me like people were defying physics when I watched them throw a round of dough into the air.
Well, folks, it’s really not that hard. I was skeptical up until the point when I actually tried it. Visions of ripped dough and sticky hands lingered in my head and I was sure my round would end up on the floor. But then, once actually giving it a toss, I realized how strong and resilient the dough actually is.
The key is having a nice dusting of flour on the dough and on your hands before you toss so things don’t get sticky, and shaping the round thin, but not too thin before you begin tossing. You may notice I don’t use a rolling pin- you really don’t need one and you run the risk of making your dough too thin which will break easier when tossed.
The magic of the hand-tossing is that it forces more dough to the outside of the round naturally for thick, fluffy crust. It is delicious and so gratifying to be able to do in your own kitchen! Pizza night in? Yes, please.
After hand-tossing the dough, I like to flavor my crust. Brush olive oil about 1 1/2 inches thick around the round in a light coating. Then, you can rub the olive oil surface with dried spices of your choice based on your pizza toppings. A good stand-by for me is cayenne pepper and salt, but I love spicy food. You could use dried oregano and basil with salt for a classic italian style, or chipoltle for a mexican style pizza.
However you spin it, this pizza dough is a great basic recipe and will find you cooking in instead of ordering delivery
- 2 cups warm (but not hot) water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- splash of olive oil
- 1 packet dry active yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Stage 1: Frothy Yeast Stage
- Briefly whip the water, yeast, sugar, salt, and oil. Let sit till frothy. About a 1/4 inch of foam will form on the top of the mixture as the yeast starts eating.
- Once you have reached the frothy stage, you can add about 9 large handfuls of flour to make the dough, but this is not exact, and more flour will be added in the kneading stage.
- Stage 2: Kneading the Dough
- Continue to add flour while kneading on a floured surface until the dough is no longer sticky, but not too dry. Once you have added all the flour you'd like, knead until you have smoothed all of the bumps out of the dough.
- Stage 3: Rest with Olive Oil Brush
- Form into a boule shape, and brush lightly with olive oil so it won't dry out. Cover with plastic wrap or foil, and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
- Stage 4: Deflating, Tossing, and Shaping
- Knead out the air on a floured surface, until the dough is completely deflated. Flatten, and shape into a rough circular shape. Now comes the fun part. Place the round onto your upright palms, with your right hand at an angle up and to the right. With a flick of your right hand, toss the round up and at a slight angle to the right in a spinning motion. You should aim to get a few quick rotations of the round before you catch it again. To catch, let it come down on the backs of your hands. Repeat for approximately two minutes. Once you are done tossing, you can place and gently shape the dough onto your pizza pan or stone.
- Credit for this dough recipe and hand-tossing technique goes to my friend and fellow foodie, Davis. Note that his hands are featured in the pictures in this post.