October 27, 2014 |

Respecting the Craft: Do as the Romans do

By Tony Gemignani


roman thick and thin side

Roman-style dough can be made several ways. One of the best recipes I have worked with is a bulk ferment. To do a bulk ferment, mix the dough and then, instead of cutting and balling it, divide the large dough in fourths, place into sealed containers and let rise for 48 hours in a refrigerator before cutting, balling, proofing again and using.

Typically a Roman dough recipe has a high percentage of water. I feel most recipes lack salt, so in the recipe below we will have three percent salt to our flour weight.

Since this recipe has such a long maturation I suggest using a flour that has at least 13-percent protein. I use a preferment/starter in my recipes, but the one below will be easier and give you great results. The water could be increased if desired.

For your convenience, I’m also listing the amounts in baker’s percent.

50 pounds flour (13 percent protein)  – 100 percent
34 pounds cold water (45 F)
1 pound warm water (85 F) – Total water = 70 percent
24 ounces fine sea salt – 3 percent
16 ounces extra-virgin olive oil – 2 percent
4 ounces dry active east – .5 percent
8 ounces dry malt  – 1 percent

Use a 60-quart mixer. Add your flour to the bowl. Blend your malt into the flour. Mix the cold water into the flour for 1 minute on slow speed and then let it sit for 45 minutes covered (this is called an autolyse method).

Using a wire whisk, activate your yeast and warm water and let sit for 10 minutes. Mix warm water and yeast mixture into the bowl and start mixer. Mix for 3 minutes and add salt. Mix for 3 minutes then add oil. Continue mixing for 3 to 4 minutes.

Take dough out of mixer and divide into fourths. Place pieces separately into large, air-tight containers and place into the refrigerator for 24 or 48 hours.

Take out of refrigerator and place all pieces into mixer and mix for 1 minute to degas. Take the dough out of the mixer and cut into 26 to 35 ounce dough balls depending on your desired thickness after baked and shape into football/oval shapes. Your dough should be a bit tacky. If it is too tacky you can either add flour or do a stretch and fold method.

Let rise overnight, covered on sheet pans or dough boxes in a refrigerator, or let rise at room temp for 8 hours before use.

There are several ways to prepare your Roman style pizza. Here are three methods:

  • Take your dough out of the fridge for 1 hour before use. Place dough into a well-seasoned sheet pan. Cover with olive oil and then push your dough out as far as you can. Place it in a warm area for an hour and then stretch your dough to the corners and let re-rise for two hours. Top and bake at 535 F in a gas or electric brick oven. This will be similar to a Sicilian-style pizza.
  • Or you can dust your dough with flour and semolina. For thick pizza gently shape and stretch your dough, not degassing it. Place on a three-foot wood peel. Top and bake at 535 F in a gas or electric brick oven.

For thin pizza, roll your dough using a sheeter or rolling pin. Roll it thin enough to cover the board. Dock your pizza, then top leaving a one-inch border. Next, cut about ½-inch of your dough off using a pizza wheel. Top and bake at 535 F in a gas or electric brick oven.

RESPECTING THE CRAFT features World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani, owner of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco and Pizza Rock in Sacramento.  Tony compiles the column with the help of his trusty assistants, Laura Meyer and Thiago Vasconcelos. If you have questions on any kitchen topic ranging from prep to finish, Tony’s your guy. Send questions via Twitter @PizzaToday, Facebook (search: Pizza Today) or e-mail jwhite@pizzatoday.com and we’ll pass the best ones on to Tony.