A Poolishly Good Pizza

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on October 28, 2013

Poolish Pizza Crust Making my own pizza dough is something that I’ve been playing with for several years now, and up until now, I had been making it the more conventional way. There’s nothing wrong with the more conventional dough that I have used in the past, but I became curious to try another method when I discovered that a very popular pizza shop was using a poolish in their dough. Guy Fieri, who is the host of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives where they visited a very popular pizza shop that used something called a poolish in their pizza dough.
A poolish is something that I had heard of when I began to look for recipes on how to make ciabatta bread, but I don’t know enough about bread or dough to have even though about using it in a pizza crust. This starter (also known as biga), combines a little flour, water and yeast that is then left to stand at room temperature for up to 12 hours…some recipes even say 18 hours. This supposedly develops the flavor and chewiness traditional for this type of dough.

I went back to the recipe that I use for my loaves to see if the same recipe would also work as a crust. I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious this turned out, and have made again several times since then. The key to making this dough is timing, because you are essentially working with 2 different elements that eventually come together in the final dough.

First, you need to make the poolish, which looks like a very loose dough or a very thick batter. This is required to sit at room temperature for at least 8-12 hours to develop the necessary flavor and body that will affect the crust with the telltale chewiness similar to those well known pizza parlors. At the 6 hour mark, you begin to build the other dough which will be mixed together with the poolish. Once they are both combined, you let them rest again for about 45 minutes and then you put it all together and bake.

This whole process sounded a little too much to handle with my busy schedule, but I was willing to give it a try. I put the poolish together one morning before leaving for my errands and then came in the afternoon to finish it off. It wasn’t effortless, but it wasn’t as difficult as I thought either.

In the meantime, I made my own quick pizza sauce which is so much better than the canned stuff, but if you prefer to skip this step, you can. Make sure to have all of your toppings ready to go, because once the dough is ready, you can add the toppings and then pop it into your very hot oven.

The result makes a very, very good pizza and very similar to a New York style pizza. Since discovering this method, I will tell you that we have been having pizza much more often these days– and that’s got to say something.

Poolish
½ teaspoon yeast
1 cup flour
1 cup warm water

Add the yeast to a small bowl and whisk in the warm water until the yeast has dissolved. Next, whisk in the flour until a very loose dough has formed, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow this to sit in either your stainless steel bowl or another non reactive container on the counter top (not in direct sunlight) at room temperature for 8 hours. Mark the time so that you can keep track.

Poolish Pizza Crust

Dough
1 ½ teaspoons yeast
1 cup warm water
3 ½ cups flour (plus a little extra for dusting)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
oil for bowl

At the 6 hour mark, add the yeast to the bowl of your stand mixer and whisk in the warm water until all of the yeast is dissolved. Add in 2 cups of the flour and on top of the flour place the salt and the sugar. Begin mixing the dough together and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Remove the paddle and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then again with towels to keep it warm. Allow it to double in size, about 1 hour. After it has doubled in bulk, deflate it if you need to and add in all of the poolish. Put this back onto your mixer with the paddle attachment and begin mixing again gently and slowly add in the rest of the flour (approx 1 ½ cups) until the dough begins to pull away from the sides in one mass. Add a little flour into a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl for a final rest for about 30 minutes. You will see bubbles begin to form under the surface, this is what you want.

Poolish Pizza Crust

Poolish Pizza Crust

In the meantime, if you haven’t made your sauce, you can quickly put it together now, and also round up all of your toppings.

homemade pizza sauce, Poolish Pizza Crust

If you have a pizza stone, it’s time to prepare that, but if you are like me, I will use whatever I have on hand, which is usually an aluminum pan. Surprisingly enough, the results are not too bad.

Poolish Pizza Crust

Poolish Pizza Crust

Once your dough has rested, add either your cheese or sauce first and then the rest of your toppings. Preheat your oven to the highest temperature possible (500°F), add the pizza and then toss in a handful of ice cubes to create steam. It is this steam that will puff up the crust along with the yeast to give you those great results.

Poolish Pizza Crust

Poolish Pizza Crust

Poolish Pizza Crust

Poolish Pizza Crust

Poolish Pizza Crust

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