This may seem like an unlikely place for such a thing, but I have had three requests from friends this week for how to make pizza dough. Believe it or not, the way I approach pizza dough fits the blog just fine: basically pizza dough is alive (with fungus!) and your job is to make it happy up until you kill it in the oven.
You will need:
- Yeast – I use approximately 5 (or so) mls of breadmachine yeast (I like the convenient jar).
- Hot water – approximately 250-300 mls, the temperature should be hot, but not unpleasant – about 45 degrees Celsius (not Kelvin!).
- sugar – 25 to 100 mls depending.
- Flour – I like to use a 1:1 mixture of whole wheat and white flour, (300 to 500 mls) sometimes with some corn meal or chia seeds or what ever thrown in (try your favorite herbs).
- Olive oil – I do not like to stick!
- A mixing bowl – 4 liter size
- a clean dish towel can nicely cover your dough while it rises.
- A pizza pan (Paula – this link is for you!)
- a fork
- Combine hot water and sugar in mixing bowl (use the fork, Luke). Once sugar is dissolved add yeast – walk away for about 10 minutes. When you come back the yeast should have activated and be a brown, frothy scum on the water – it is alive!!
- Add enough flour mixture to the water to make a grapefruit size ball of dough (I normally use the fork for this). The trick here is that dough should be somewhat dry, but soft to slightly wet. You can always add water or flour as needed – the dough should feel nice (to the touch). This dough is the new habitat for your yeast and they will like to be someplace warm (on top of the hot water heater, near the fire place) not too hot (we’ll cook them later).
- Walk away for 45 minutes or so. When you come back the aerobic metabolism of your yeasts should have 1.5 to doubled the size of your dough by respiring carbon dioxide into your dough.
- Pour about 15 mls of olive oil onto pizza pan, coat your hands with this oil. Punch down the dough to original size and transfer from mixing bowl to pizza pan. Knead dough into pizza pan shape.
- At this point you can: a) put your favorite toppings and sauce and throw into 425 degree Fahrenheit oven (until cooked 15-20 minutes), b) throw pizza crust into oven for 5-10 minutes to prebake (crispier crust) then top and bake. More dough = thicker crust. When your crust comes out of the oven it will be dead, but delicious.
Variations: changing up flours makes the crust different, milk or beer can be used instead of water, you can use different yeasts. The entire world awaits. This is a fun, non-tedious way to make pizza crust – but Rome wasn’t built in a day: you will have to make a couple bad crusts. Practice, practice, practice – learn to love and respect your yeasts. That said for those of you who can’t afford to lose $1.35 or so you have invested in ingredients here is a boring recipe (but I think they are moving too fast, and the dough won’t be as good – the price you pay for boring).
Good luck and Bon Appetit!