I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met a slice of pizza I didn’t like.
When I crave pizza, that hankering hovers in the back of my mind (and mouth) until I manhandle a couple slices. Hot and bubbly cheese. Tons of toppings. A pillow of chewy dough.
Come on, carbs…come to mama.
For me, the crust of a pizza is pretty important…it might be my favorite part. While I’m not necessarily a crunchy thin crust girl, I don’t really sit on the deep dish end of the spectrum either. My personal preference is a pizza crust substantial enough to hold up to what you top it with, but not so doughy you can’t complete the task at hand. Know what I mean?
This pizza dough is perfection. All this recipe takes is a little patience and planning…and yeast.
Sure, you could steer clear from yeast for the rest of your days, but you will only be missing out on some serious deliciousness…like homemade pizza…and we can’t have that. So, all we can do is set ourselves up for success.
Tips to Take Away the Intimidation of Working with Yeast:
- Buy a bag of bread flour – It’ll set you back a few bucks, but the extra gluten in there is well worth the initial investment.
- Use instant (aka rapid rise) yeast – Although its cost is comparable to or exactly the same as its active dry counterpart, instant yeast usually allows you to skip a step or two in prepping process. This yeast does exactly what its name promises, too – you won’t have to wait as long for the dough to get good and puffy.
- Turn on your oven and let there be light - While you’re prepping the dough, preheat your oven to its lowest temperature. When it comes up to temp, simply shut it off and turn the oven light on. Let your covered bowl bask in the glow of the warm oven when the dough needs to rise and you will never be disappointed with the result.
- Water to wrist – Allow me to introduce you to the real culprit when working with yeast. Hot water will kill yeast, which is exactly where most people go wrong. Test the water on your wrist - it shouldn’t be much warmer than your body temperature.
- Read the recipe – Every dough is different. It’s good to get in the habit of reading every recipe from top to bottom before you start cooking, whether or not yeast is required.
Now that you’re feeling confident, let’s take a look at some pictures of the pizza dough making process.
Measure and add all of your ingredients into a glass or metal bowl and knead with a mixer (or by hand).
After a few minutes, everything will start to come together. If the dough seems too sticky, add a little flour. Too crumbly and/or dry? Try a couple drops of water. Pretty simple stuff.
Here’s where patience comes into play. Place the dough in a greased bowl - cover it with plastic wrap and a dish towel – and set it inside your oven with the light on for 60-90 minutes. Close that oven door and entertain yourself while the yeast goes to work.
Well, would you looky here? That dough more than doubled on its own. All I had to do was hurry up and wait. Back to business though – time to shape the dough, choose your toppings and bake this baby.
Foolproof Pizza Dough
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Hands On Time: 10-15 minutes
Wait Time: 60-90 minutes
Baking Time: 20-30 minutes
2 teaspoons active dry yeast or instant (aka rapid rise) yeast
7/8 to 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water (use less in the summer, more in the winter)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
If you’re using active dry yeast, dissolve it, with a pinch of sugar, in 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm water. Let the yeast and water sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the mixture has bubbled and expanded. If you’re using instant yeast, you can skip this step.
Combine the dissolved yeast (or the rapid rise yeast) with the remainder of the ingredients. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you’ve made a soft, smooth dough. If you’re kneading in a stand mixer, it should take 4 to 5 minutes at second speed, and the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl, perhaps sticking a bit at the bottom. Don’t over-knead the dough; it should hold together, but can still look fairly rough on the surface.
To make pizza now: Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover lightly with plastic wrap and a dish towel, and allow it to rise till it’s very puffy. This will take about an hour using instant yeast, or 90 minutes using active dry. If it takes longer, that’s okay; just give it some extra time.
To make pizza later: Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 mins at room temperature. Refrigerate the dough for 4 hours (or for up to 24 hours); it will rise slowly as it chills. This step allows you more schedule flexibility; it also develops the crust’s flavor. About an hour or so before you want to serve pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator so it can come up to temperature and rise a bit more.
Lightly grease the pan of your choice. Sprinkle cornmeal evenly over the entire surface of the pan. The spray keeps the pizza from sticking; the cornmeal gives the crust great flavor and crunch.
Place the dough on the prepared pan. Press it over the bottom of the pan, stretching it towards the edges. Your goal is to get the dough to fill the pan as fully as possible.
Preheat the oven to 450°F and arrange toppings of your choice on your pizza dough.
Bake the pizza on the lower oven rack till it just begins to brown around the edge of the crust. This will take about 8 minutes for thinner crust pizza; about 10 to 12 minutes for medium thickness; and 12 to 14 minutes for thick-crust pizza.
Move the pan to the upper rack in the oven for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned and the cheese is melted. Check it midway through, and move it back to the lowers rack if there is too much browning going on.
Remove the pizza from the oven, and transfer it from the pan to a rack to cool slightly before serving.
This pizza is not delivery…nor is it DiGiorno. Discuss.