Pizza dough made at home isn’t hard to do. It really isn’t. After a few times of making it, it will be something you can do without even looking at a recipe.
The dough that I make can be used for 3 or 4 pizzas, depending on how thick you like your crust. Now, I’m not going to make 4 pizzas all at once. The best part about this dough is you can make it ahead of time and then freeze it for use later. Pull one out of the freezer in the morning before work, put it in the fridge and when you get home it’s fully thawed. So easy.
First, start with 1/2 cup of warm tap water. Put a packet or 2 and 1/4 teaspoons of Rapid Rise yeast in a 2 cup measuring cup. Pour the warm water over the yeast. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. During this time I like to get the dry ingredients ready. I like to just weigh the flour as opposed to measuring it out with a measuring cup. In the bowl of a stand mixer, weigh 20 oz. of unbleached bread flour. I’ve tried using just regular unbleached flour and it works just as well. But using the bread flour seems to make the crust a bit more crunchy. Which is what I like. If you don’t have a scale, you can measure 4 cups of flour into the bowl.
Next add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt to the flour. Put the bowl on the stand mixer attached with the paddle attachment and just mix up the dry ingredients for a little bit.
Now take a look at your yeast mixture. It should be all chunky looking. The yeast should be expanding inside the warm water. It sort of looks like this:
Pour 1 1/4 cup of room temperature water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil into your yeast mixture. Mix it together a little bit. Next, with the mixer on low, add the water/oil/yeast mixture slowly to the flour. It should start forming a mass of dough.
Once it has done this, switch to the dough hook on your mixer. And let the mixer knead the dough for about 5 minutes.
And then I like to take the dough out and knead it a few times by hand on a floured surface just to make sure it has all been kneaded through.
Isn’t it pretty? :)
Get a big bowl. Oil it with some olive oil. Place the dough in there and cover with plastic wrap.
Let it sit and rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Once it has risen, plop the dough out on a floured surface. Here is where I like to divide the dough into 4 portions. Put each portion into a quart size freezer bag. I also like to make sure the bag has the date on it so I know when I had made this particular dough. Once it is in the bag (this is the trick I learned from my culinary friend, Sheila) I smash the dough into a flat disc. This will make it much easier and faster to thaw out once frozen. And also takes up less space in your freezer!
When you get ready to make a pizza, place the dough on a floured surface and roll, stretch or press the dough into a pizza shape. I like to just use a floured rolling pin to roll mine out. I like the crust very thin so it is the easiest way for me to do it. If the dough seems to stretch and then contract a bit, let it sit there for about 5 minutes and try rolling it again.
If you don’t have a pizza peel, get one. It makes moving the pizza in and out of the oven so easy. And if you don’t have a pizza stone, get one of those too. Williams-Sonoma has both a peel and stones. I have these:
Once your pizza is rolled out, move it to your pizza peel that has been lightly dusted with corn meal.
Now you can add some toppings. I always brush the dough first with some olive oil then prick the surface of the dough with a fork. This will help the dough not to bubble up or rise too much. Remember, I like thin crust! Add whatever toppings you want. I love making margherita pizza. And that’s what I made tonight. With fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. It is a classic combination and it tastes delicious. I add the thinly sliced tomatoes first. Top them with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Put it on a pizza stone in a 500 degree oven and let it cook until the crust is a little brown. Take the pizza out and top with shredded mozzarella. Put it back in the oven until the cheese is melted and a little brown and the crust has become very brown. Place the pizza on the board, grate some parmesan cheese over the top, then tear basil leaves on top of the pizza. So good.
Another combination that is good is prosciutto, tomato, mozzarella and arugula. Sliced tomatoes first like above. Then add slices of prosciutto and top with mozzarella. Back in the oven until melted. Then you can top the pizza with the arugula that has been tossed in olive oil. And I also like to add more prosciutto on top of the arugula. Very delicious.