Julia Child’s “French Chef” Pizza Dough

Julia Child pizza dough

Not too long ago I was watching an old “French Chef” show on the Cooking Channel. Julia Child was making pizza. I remember my mom watching Julia in olden times, scribbling notes as fast as she could and hollering at anyone who had the temerity to interrupt her. With the advent of the digital video recorder, I didn’t have to resort to such draconian methods, I just went back and re-watched the salient bits a couple of times. More leisurely note taking ensued.

You might ask why I didn’t just Google the recipe, to which I would reply, “I did, but the recipes I found weren’t exactly the same as this one.” For example, this version mixes all purpose flour and pastry flour. For me, this supersedes all of my other pizza dough recipes (and yes, I have lauded at least one other one in these pages) as my go-to dough. It is easy to make and produces a medium thick dough– a mama bear dough, if you will. It browns nicely and has pleasant nutty flavor.

Julia made her dough by hand, but I employ the Cook’s Illustrated (and Mark Bittman) method: I use a food processor. Into said processor add:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups pastry flour (cake flour also works well)
2 1/4 tsp. salt
1 package dry yeast (rapid rise is fine)
3 Tbs olive oil

Start the processor and run for a few seconds to mix this all together and then slowly add:
1 1/2 cup tepid water

Run it for at least one minute until you get a nice ball and then remove the dough onto a lightly floured surface for minute or two of hand kneading. I put it into a lightly oiled bowl and stash it in the fridge for a day or two, but you can leave it out and let it rise at room temperature for same day use. If you do it that way, punch it down after the dough has doubled in size (an hour or so) and then continue the rise for another hour. When you’re ready to make the pies, split the dough in two and form each one into a 12″-14″ round. Roll them out (I know, some people don’t approve of taking a rolling pin to pizza, but Julia did it so I give you permission) and be top with your favorite pizza ingredients.

I bake the pies on a pizza stone in a 475 degree oven for 8 or 9 minutes, depending on the toppings and cheeses.