Dan Richer’s Everyday Pizza Dough
Since opening in 2012, Razza Pizza Artigianale in Jersey City, New Jersey, has taken critics by storm. Its old school and lively approach to pizza is thanks to the owner, chef Dan Richer, whose obsession with artisanal Italian pizzas burns as hot as the wood-fired ovens he uses to cook them. From the homegrown yeast culture to the cherry-picked, locally sourced ingredients that adorn each pizza, everything at Razza is produced with intention. If you’re unable to visit, fear not: Richer’s new book, The Joy of Pizza, written in collaboration with Rome-based food journalist and author Katie Parla, is aimed at inspiring home cooks to reach for the same standards.
To celebrate the release, Dan and Katie have kindly shared a few of their favorite recipes from the book, starting with this one. Dan’s Everyday Dough is a recipe so versatile, it stretches beyond the confines of pizza: ciabatta, English muffins, and even boule loaves can all be created using this same method. Made with white flour and commercial yeast (Dan prefers the Saf-instant brand), it’s accessible and straightforward. You can use any flour from your local supermarket (no special blend needed) and still achieve the flawless results Dan strives for using his Pizza Evaluation Rubric, the series of meticulous pizza quality checklists on which The Joy of Pizza is built.
While we wouldn’t call this a beginner recipe — the method takes three days from start to finish — it is a straightforward introduction to the craft of creating and working with high-hydration dough, straight from the hands of a master. Once the initial mixing is done, each of the steps prior to baking take 5 minutes or less. The extra effort on your part will be rewarded through the rich flavor of the resulting dough. Dan believes this recipe is so special in part because it provides training for beginner- and intermediate-level bakers’ hands and helps build confidence in handling delicate, high-hydration dough. If you’re interested in developing your skillset across pizza styles, this recipe is a great place to start.
Excerpted from THE JOY OF PIZZA by Dan Richer with Katie Parla. Copyright © 2021 by Dan Richer. Photographs by Eric Wolfinger. Illustrations by Katie Shelly. Used with permission of Voracious, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company. New York, NY. All rights reserved
3 days total, including proofing time
Makes 7 balls weighing about 250 grams each
35 ounces (1000 grams) “00” flour (100%)
1 teaspoon (3 grams) instant yeast (0.3%)
3 cups (680 grams) water (68%) *If using a conventional oven, increase water to 760 grams, or 76% hydration
1 ½ tablespoons (20 grams) fine sea salt (2%)
Rice flour or fine semolina flour, for dusting
Notes: Dan recommends a dough temperature of 78°F (25.5°C). To work out the ideal water temperature for achieving this, use this formula: (78°F x 3) − (Air Temperature + Flour Temperature + Friction Factor*) = Target Water Temperature (°F).
*Friction factor is the heat generated through the action of kneading dough. How you knead the dough will have different friction factors, and therefore different dough temperatures: If you’re mixing by hand, the friction factor will be close to 0 (barely 1 or 2°F)
If you’re using a mixer, depending on the brand, this can reach up to 40°F. To work out the friction factor of your mixer for a specific batch size, first mix the dough, then take the dough’s final temperature. Subtract the desired dough temperature (in this case, that’s 78°F) from the actual dough temperature, and the resulting figure will be the friction factor for that mixer and batch size.
If mixing by hand:
Incorporate the ingredients: In a large bowl, mix together the flour and yeast. Add the water and mix with your fingertips or a spoon until no dry bits remain.
Rest the dough: Set aside, covered with a clean kitchen towel, for 20 minutes to one hour to hydrate the flour.
Incorporate the salt: Uncover the bowl. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and use your fingers to scissor-pinch it into the mixture. (Dan recommends using your thumb and first finger to work the salt in from one side of the dough to the other.)
Knead: Once the salt is incorporated and dissolved, use four closed fingers (pinky to index) to mix without tearing, then press the dough gently onto itself. Rotate the bowl a half turn and repeat. Next, rotate the bowl a quarter turn and repeat the lifting/pressing process, then rotate another half turn and repeat. The dough will tighten up and strengthen during this series of stretch and folds.
Covered with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and set dough aside at room temperature for another 30 minutes. Repeat the stretch and folds every 30 minutes. After 2 hours of bulk fermentation, the dough should feel as if gas is building up inside. It should also pass the windowpane test: Stretch the dough carefully between your fingers and hold it up to the light. If you can see light through the dough, the gluten structure is strong. If the dough tears, rest it for 30 minutes, then perform another set of stretch and folds.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to rest overnight. If it feels like there’s no gas production after 2 hours, set the bowl aside at room temperature until the dough has increased by at least 20 percent in volume before transferring to the refrigerator. Overnight, additional gas will develop.
If using a mixer:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, first add 85% of the water, followed by the flour and yeast. Mix on a low speed until shaggy, then rest, covered, for 20 minutes to an hour. Incorporate the salt and continue mixing on a low speed until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Slowly add the remaining water. As soon as the water is fully incorporated, turn off the mixer. Transfer the dough to a very lightly oiled container and follow the recipe procedure above from the bulk ferment with stretch and fold steps.
Using a mixer can reduce the total number of stretch and folds required to reach the desired stage of gluten development, so you may only need to do one series. Bulk fermentation is complete when the dough has increased in volume by at least 20 percent and passes the windowpane test (see above).
The next morning (or at least 12 hours later), remove the bowl from the refrigerator and uncover. Stretch and fold the dough once more in the bowl; the dough will feel noticeably stronger. Cover with plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator.
Divide and round: Before bed (or at least 12 hours later), remove the bowl from the refrigerator and uncover. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, allowing it to gently release from the
bowl. Handle the dough with extreme care. Using a dough scraper, cut the dough into seven equal pieces weighing about 250 grams each. If you are making a pan pie, cut the dough into two equal pieces weighing about 890 grams each.
Working with one piece of dough, lift the top half of the dough (from 12 o’clock) and press it into the center of the dough. Next, lift the bottom half of the dough and press it into the center. Take the left side of the dough and lift and press it into the center. Repeat with the right side. Then, gather all four corners and pull and fold them into the center of the ball, then gently press to attach. Do not flatten. Be sure the ball is rounded and the bottom is sealed, pinching it closed if necessary. Gently flip the dough so the seam side faces down. Repeat this process with the remaining dough pieces. Place each ball into an individual, very lightly oiled plastic container large enough for the ball to double in volume. You can also place the balls on a lightly floured dough tray or baking sheet, dust their tops with flour, and cover with plastic wrap.
Proof: Transfer the dough to the refrigerator to rest overnight, or for at least 12 hours.
Bring the dough to room temperature: The next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator 2 to 3 hours before you plan to bake and set it aside to reach room temperature. The dough should have substantially increased in volume while in the refrigerator. If it has not, allow it to increase in volume at room temperature before baking. The dough will be ready when it has increased in volume by 20 percent and passes the poke test. (This means it springs back slowly and leaves a slight indentation when poked.)
If cooking with an Ooni pizza oven: Aim for 950°F (500°C), using the Ooni Infrared Thermometer to quickly and accurately check the temperature of the baking stone.
If cooking with a home oven: Preheat your oven to its highest temperature. If you have a stone or steel, place in the center of the oven to preheat.
Stretch: Flour the top of a dough ball. If it is inside a container, turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface. If it is resting on a dough tray or baking sheet, gently place your non-dominant hand ron top of the floured dough ball, then use a dough scraper to scoop up the dough. Invert the dough and gently lower it onto a generously floured surface. Try not to damage any of the dough’s structure, and be as minimally invasive as possible. Keep track of the “top” and “bottom” of the dough. (The top of your future pizza is the side currently facing the countertop.) Using extremely gentle movements and keeping fingertips flat and spread, apply pressure on the dough at 10 and 2 o’clock. Reposition your hands on the portion of dough nearest you. Move from the top of the dough toward your body, pressing downward and outward with each motion. Leave an inch along the rim untouched.
Flip the dough over. The top of the future pizza is now facing upward. Continue stretching the dough, using the technique that works best for you. One approach: Leave the dough on the counter and, with one hand in the center, pull at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock. You might also scoop up the dough from underneath, keeping your palms facing the counter, then turn it, stretching and pulling it in increments using your knuckles. Be very gentle and don’t be afraid to rely on gravity, that great stretcher of pizza dough. Regardless of your technique, stretch the dough until it reaches 10 to 11 inches in diameter. You will do one final stretch once on the peel.
Transfer to the peel: Dust the peel with coarse rice flour and wipe your hands to remove any excess moisture. Gently scoop up the dough, sliding your hands beneath it with palms facing the work surface. Shake off any excess flour and transfer the dough to the floured peel. Using flattened and spread fingertips, palms facing upward from underneath, gently pull the dough until the disc reaches 12 inches in diameter. Be sure your hands are dry when you do this, otherwise the dough will stick to the peel.
Build the pizza: Add your desired toppings.
For the bake:
If cooking with an Ooni pizza oven: Slide the pizza off the peel and into your Ooni oven. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, turning the pizza regularly to ensure it cooks evenly.
If cooking with a home oven: Slide the pizza off the peel and into your oven and onto the tray/steel/pizza stone. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes until the pizza is baked and browned, and the toppings are melted.
Dan suggests assessing your pizza according to his “Pizza Evaluation Rubric,” which provides an extensive checklist for pizza quality —one which can be referred to, and improved upon, following each bake.
Repeat with remaining dough balls, slice, serve and enjoy!