Wet Kneading and the Perfect Pizza Dough

What is wet kneading? Well it is exactly as it sounds, kneading while the dough is still very wet, almost batter like. This, along with letting ingredients rest together at the very start of making the dough are the two biggest factors that have changed my good pizza dough recipe to a great one.

I am pretty sure you could apply these two things to any pizza dough recipe you currently use and you would see dramatic improvements. I will show you the following steps and "recipe" I currently use for my pizza dough.

Here is everything that goes into my dough (Please note you will need a kitchen mixer or food processor to make this - You could try by hand but I think it would be very messy/sticky):

  • High Grade Flour - 525g (to start) + 100g
  • Yeast - 3 teaspoons
  • Sugar - 2 teaspoons
  • Water - 425mls
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 3 tablespoon
  • Salt - 1.5 teaspoon
  • Semolina flour (for putting on your pizza peel so pizza slides easily)
  • Pizza oven or pizza stone
Yeast, Sugar, Water - Proof! (after about 5mins)

Yeast, Sugar, Water - Proof! (after about 5mins)

First things first; I put the yeast and sugar together in bowl with the water. This is to proof the yeast which i am pretty sure is not really important from a proofing point of view but I like to do it as it dissolves the yeast granules with the water and sugar. I leave this to sit for about 5 minutes. You will see the yeast rise/bubble to the top (proof). I then pour the olive oil into this mixture and mix together.

Lowest setting!

Lowest setting!

In my mixer's bowl I put 525g of flour with the salt. I make a hole in the middle and then pour my yeast mixture in. I then turn my mixer on to its lowest setting for about 2 minutes to mix the ingredients together. Please note you may need to add more water (or flour). You want the mixture to resemble a very thick batter rather than a dough. I then leave the mixture to sit for at least 20 minutes (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT). This is to let the ingredients get to know each other better - mainly the flour and water. Think of it like team bonding or team building, a team that works well together can produce amazing results.

Mixing pizza dough ingredients before leaving to sit for 20 mins. Mixture should be like a thick batter.

After the mixture has sat for at least 20 minutes (40 mins for better results) you should see a much more smooth and integrated mixture (like a perfectly mixed thick batter). The water and flour have ironed out their differences and have partnered up 😃 Turn the mixer on to its lowest setting again and leave for 5 minutes (this is wet kneading 😃 You should see the kneading hook stretching the dough/batter). After 5 minutes leave the mixer on but start adding the reamining 100g of flour over the next three-five minutes. I use a tablespoon and just have flour on hand, you are probably going to add about a cup of flour to the mixture. Let it mix for another minute so it is well mixed together. The dough should be representing more of a dough now but a bit sticky, it is probably climbing up your mixer (kneading tool). Remove the bowl from the mixer and let rest for another 20 minutes.

Wet kneading pizza dough after mixture has sat for 20mins. Notice how much it is stretching compared to 20 minutes earlier.

Dough after wet kneading and extra flour added. Next up rest for another 20mins.

Dough after wet kneading and extra flour added. Next up rest for another 20mins.

Now you have your dough 😃 All that is left to do now is let it rise as all the hard (important) work has already been done. Split your dough up into balls that will make your individual dough's. Making the perfect ball - Watch this video on how to make perfect round dough balls. (Side note for freezing - Now is the time to freeze these individual dough's if you want to save for another dough, freezing dough at this point works really well or place them in the fridge if going to use in the next 5 days). Just wrap them in cling film and chuck them in the freezer - Side note over).

Dough after it has had its 20min rest and removed from mixer. Ready to be split and shaped into indivdual pizza dough's.

Dough after it has had its 20min rest and removed from mixer. Ready to be split and shaped into indivdual pizza dough's.

Let it rise - At this point you are wanting to place your dough's somewhere to rise. You can use a proofing tray or bowls I used to go to put each dough into individual oiled bowls and finding somewhere warm, then I discovered "proofing trays". I tried this on my chopping board and it worked a treat (note I have since changed to using aluminium stackable individual proofing pans). Just lay some flour down on your wooden chopping board (or pan) and place your dough's down making sure you space them enough so they can each double in size. Get a wet tea towel (wring it dry) and lay over top. I just leave this on the kitchen bench. The dough's will need roughly an hour to double in size, you can instead place them in the aluminium pans and put them in the fridge for a cold rise for a few hours or days, then remove and let rise for a couple hours).

Shaped and ready to rise!

Shaped and ready to rise!

Now you are good to make your pizza's 😃 Check out this post on our current go-to topping's.

A couple of notes, you will be adding flour along the way when you split your dough into balls and when you turn your dough into a pizza base, so by the time you have your base ready to add toppings it should no longer be very sticky.

Hint's with working with a fresh pizza dough base:

I use a wooden pizza peel to make my pizza on and insert it into the pizza oven. Fresh dough sticks to metal peels much more than to wooden peels (and am not a fan of using lots of flour on the bottom of my dough). I sprinkle semolina on my peel before I lay the fresh dough on it, this helps it slide into the pizza oven as well as adds a bit of a crispy texture to the bottom - works a treat 😃

-A

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