Easy Pizza Dough (and pizza making tips!)
Before we get started, I want to announced the Earthbox giveaway winner: Lee Ann Kaplan. Please contact me to claim your awesome prize!
Pizza is one of my favorite things to make, partially because the combinations are endless. This is another reason I love making pizza for my toddler – kids already love it, so they’ll be more likely to try whatever little twists you give the sauce, cheese, or toppings.
I’ve posted recipes for a shaved asparagus and brie pizza, California avocado pizza, and brie and chanterelle pizza – none of which is traditional “kid” pizza, but my daughter has happily eaten all of them.
But I learned that making pizza at home has a little bit of a learning curve. These are all easy things to do, but they make a huge difference. Here are some pointers:
1. Get your oven HOT.
Pizza should be cooked quickly – a good pizza oven should be about 700 degrees. Obviously that’s not do-able in a normal home oven, so I turn mine to about 475.
2. Don’t load up your toppings.
I know a pizza with a million toppings sounds good. But when you add lots of stuff to the pizza, it gets mushy. Limit yourself to two to three toppings. Pre-cook any particularly watery things like mushrooms.
3. Get a pizza stone.
If you don’t have one, you can still make good pizza; however, your pizza will be a lot better if you use a stone. It locks in the moisture and gives it that nice crispy-chewy texture. I found that pizza made without a stone has a breadier texture. Circular pizza stones are fine – I had an inexpensive one from World Market that was great (until it broke), but I love this Emile Henry Rectangular Baking Stone because the surface area is awesome.
4. Get a pizza peel.
A what? A pizza peel is like a gigantic spatula that you can use to slide the pizza onto the stone. It takes a little bit of practice (and a lot of cornmeal) to flick the dough onto the hot stone, but it makes a huge difference. I really love this one: Epicurean Pizza Peel
5. Work quickly
Get everything ready to go before assembling your pizza so you can top it quickly. If you put the sauce on and then grate the cheese, it’ll get mushy.
6. Don’t buy premade crusts.
Seriously. Pillsbury, Boboli, the bagged dough from the grocery store bakery, and the rest of those scary-chemicals-disguised-as-food products are filled with junk and just don’t taste as good. It’s ridiculously easy to make your own dough – if you can stir, you can make pizza dough.
So, now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s make dough!
This is is a scaled down version of a recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. Their basic bread recipes are really awesome. This pizza recipe is a trimmed down version of their wonderful olive oil dough, which can be used for pizza, focaccia, and lots of other breads. They say not to use King Arthur Flour because of the higher protein content, but I think it’s fine in this recipe. Use whatever you have on hand.
You can easily double (or halve) this recipe. It’s a wonderfully forgiving, elastic dough. If it springs back to much when you try to roll it, just let it rest for a few minutes and then try again.
Yield: 2 pizzas
Easy Pizza Dough
Seriously simple and so much better than pizza dough from the store!
1 1/3 c. warm water
3/4 T yeast
3/4 T salt
1/2 T sugar
1/8 c. extra virgin olive oil
3 1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour*
1. Pour your water in a bowl and sprinkle the yeast overtop. Allow it to proof for 5 minutes (skip the proofing if you are using instant yeast).
2. Gently stir the sugar, salt, and olive oil into the yeast mixture.
3. Stir the flour in all at once. You want to incorporate all of the flour into the yeast mixture with quick stirring. Don't worry about kneading it - just get as much incorporated as you can.
4. Cover with saran wrap and let it rise for about 2 hours until doubled in size. This dough is very forgiving - you can let it rise for up to 4 hours if you forget about it.
5. Cut it in half, make a ball, and roll it out to the desired size, adding flour if it's sticky. I like making the pizza as thin as possible for a nice chewy texture.
6. Transfer the dough to the pizza peel or a cookie sheet. I like to sprinkle flour on the dough so that I can fold it in half, move it, and then unfold it on a cornmeal covered pizza meal.
7. Add your toppings and slide into a very hot oven (450 to 475 degrees)
8. Cook until the cheese is bubbling and the crust looks golden. If you have a pizza peel, use it to slide the pizza out of the oven. Cool slightly and enjoy!
*Updated: I had previously written 2 1/4 c. flour but meant 3 1/4. If you're worried about a dense crust, start with 3 cups and add more flour as needed. The texture should be elastic, smooth, and workable, not at all wet and sticky.
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