Delfina’s Perfect Pizza Dough Recipe and A Great Pizza Stone

Tomato sauce, homegrown tomatoes, homegrown basil and mozzarella top this pizza we made.

When I spy the words, “best homemade pizza dough we’ve ever tried,” well, you know I’ve got to try it.

Especially since those lofty words come from none other than Sunset magazine’s exacting editors.

That’s just what they proclaimed  this recipe for “Delfina’s Pizza Dough”  from the acclaimed San Francisco restaurant, Pizzeria Delfina.

The recipe can be found in “The Sunset Cookbook” (Oxmoor House), of which I received a review copy last year and have been happily cooking from ever since.

Just as they promised, the soft, supple dough is easy to work with. And it bakes up crisp with a slightly puffy edge.

The recipe calls for 1 generous teaspoon of fresh yeast, which can be found in refrigerator cases of certain supermarkets. I didn’t want to make an extra trip to the store, so I searched online until I found the proper conversion for using active dry yeast instead. Turns out it’s about 1 1/4 teaspoons, so that’s what I used.

The great Emile Henry pizza stone that I got as a sample to test out, fitted inside our Big Green Egg.

The pizza, ready to be served.

You can bake this pizza in the oven. But we did it on the grill, using a new Emile Henry round pizza stone ($49.95) that I got a sample of from the kind folks at Williams-Sonoma. Glazed in black, it’s beautiful to behold, so much so that you could easily serve guests right from it. Sur La Table also carries the pan at the same price, but in flame red.

But the glaze goes beyond looks. We have a regular unfinished, square pizza stone for our kitchen oven. We’ve also experimented with other unglazed pizza stones for the grill. This is by far the easiest to use. The glaze doesn’t necessarily make it non-stick, but it does help the pizza come off the stone more easily than other stones we’ve used.  Founded in 1850 in France, Emile Henry is renowned for its dutch ovens and other ceramic cookware. It’s no wonder that its pizza stone heats up so evenly. It’s also easier to clean than other stones. You can wipe it off or put it in the dishwasher.

Fresh figs top this pizza.

Top your pizza with whatever you desire. We made a Margherita with fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil and mozzarella; and another, in which we topped the dough with fresh figs, rosemary, olive oil and gorgonzola, before baking, then finishing with paper-thin slices of prosciutto and handfuls of baby arugula before serving.

Delfina’s Pizza Dough

Time: 2 hours, plus 4 hours to rise

(Makes enough for six 12-inch pizzas)

1 teaspoon (slightly rounded) fresh yeast OR 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound, 14 ounces (about 6 cups) “00” flour, preferably Caputo OR all-purpose flour (See Tips below)

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt (see Quick Tips below)

Put yeast, oil, and 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon cold water in the bowl of a stand mixer; mix, using dough hook, on lowest speed until yeast has completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Add flour and mix another 8 minutes. If you must mix by hand, stir ingredients together with a wooden spoon until blended; then turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and stretchy, at least 15 minutes.

Cover bowl or dough loosely with a dampened kitchen towel and let dough rise 20 minutes in a warm (about 80 degrees) place.

Add salt and mix on low speed until incorporated and dissolved, about 7 minutes; or, if mixing by hand, sprinkle dough with salt and knead 10 minutes.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and cut into six equal portions. Roll each into a tight ball. Set on a lightly floured baking sheet.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at least 4 hours at warm room temperature. Dough balls have risen properly when they are soft, pillowy, and full of air.

Heat a pizza stone or baking sheet on lowest rack of oven at 550 degrees (or as high as the oven will go) for at least 30 minutes.

Working with one ball of dough at a time (keep remaining balls tightly covered), set dough on a well-floured pizza peel or rimless baking sheet and stretch it into a 12-inch circle. Flop stretched-out dough onto peel.

Arrange your choice of toppings on dough.

Plant tip of pizza peel (or long edge of baking sheet) on pizza stone and shove pizza quickly onto it. Bake until pizza is puffy and browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Drizzle with oil.

Repeat with remaining dough balls.

Quick Tips: Find “00” flour in well-stocked supermarkets and Italian markets. For best results, measure flour by weight rather than volume. Though 1 1/2 tablespoons may seem like a lot of salt, the dough won’t taste too salty as long as you use coarse-grain kosher salt, not fine-grained table salt.

Make Ahead: Dough can be formed into balls, set on a lightly floured baking sheet, covered tightly with plastic wrap, then chilled overnight (dough will rise slowly in the refrigerator). After dough balls have risen, you can freeze them for up to 2 weeks. Let chilled or frozen dough come to room temperature before proceeding.

Adapted from “The Sunset Cookbook”

Another Great Dough Recipe: A16’s Pizza Dough

More Sunset Cookbook Recipes: Chef Bradley Ogden’s Overnight Soft Herb Roll

And: Beef-Ale Stew and Green Onion-Buttermilk Dumplings

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