Pizza Week: Pizza Dough

From:  The New Best Recipe
makes enough for 3 medium pizzas (or 3 thin 15” pizzas)

What is your favorite thing to make? I get that question a lot and although I love to make just about everything, I have an easy answer. Pizza. I make it all the time. It also happens to be my “desert island” food. I love making homemade dough, and after the first few times, I realized I could put it together faster than a trip to the grocery. So don’t be put off by the lengthy directions, it really is very, very easy. You only need time for the dough to rise. I love pizza because there are so many ways to make it and so many varieties of toppings- you could eat a different pizza every day for a year. So here it is, the dough I swear by and make weekly. To make the best pizza possible and to make it as easy as possible, I strongly recommend getting a 15” pizza stone and a pizza peel, for easily sliding the pizza into the oven. Parchment paper is also a must. (Unless you want to deal with the mess of sprinkling corn meal on the peel, and trying to transfer a wobbling mass of pizza dough to the peel, and then to the oven.) The parchment makes the process so easy, I‘m seriously wondering why I didn‘t try it earlier. This recipe makes a lovely chewy crust with a crispy bite.  At the end of the recipe are tips and variations.

Make sure to use a food processor with a capacity of at least 11 cups. Unbleached all-purpose flour can be used in a pinch, but the resulting crust will be less crisp.

½ cup warm water
1 envelope (about 2 ¼ teaspoons) rapid-rise yeast
1 ¼ cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups (22 oz) bread flour, plus more for dusting the surface etc (recommended; King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
olive oil for the bowl

1. Measure ½ cup warm water into a 2 cup liquid measuring glass and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let stand about 5 minutes. Add  1 ¼ cups room-temperature water (it should add up to 1 ¾ before the oil)  and oil and stir to combine.

2. Pulse the flour and salt in a large food processor a few times to combine. Continue processing while pouring the liquid ingredients (holding back a few tablespoons) through the feed tube. If the dough does not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid and process until a ball forms. Process a few more seconds until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead by hand for a few strokes to form a smooth, round ball. Put the dough in a deep oiled glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 ½ to 2 hours. Punch the dough to deflate.

Divide the dough into 3 equal portions using a knife or dough scraper. Place the portions you don’t need right away in a Ziploc sandwich bag and freeze.  At this point you want to preheat your oven to 500 and set a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Place the dough portion on a sheet of parchment paper large enough to accommodate the pizza, a little larger than your pizza stone. Using a floured rolling pin (I prefer to use a straight rolling pin or an empty wine bottle.) roll the dough into a 15” circle. If the dough resists stretching, let is rest for 5 minutes, then resume with the rolling.

Once the dough is rolled out, slide the parchment with the crust onto a pizza peel. Top as desired, open the oven and carefully slide the pizza off of the peel onto the pizza stone. (still on the parchment, you can remove that after the bake. ) Bake for 7-10 minutes or until desired done-ness is reached.

Pizza dough kneaded by hand
Follow the recipe through step 1. Omit step 2 and instead combine the salt and half the flour in a deep bowl. Add the liquid ingredients and use a wooden spoon to combine. Add the remaining flour, stirring until a cohesive mass forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 7-8 minutes, using as little dusting flour as possible while kneading. Form the dough into a ball, put in in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and proceed with the recipe.

Pizza dough kneaded in a standing mixer
Follow the recipe through step 1. Omit step 3 and instead place the flour and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and proceed with the recipe.

Pizza dough with garlic & herbs
Heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a small skillet. Add 4 medium minced garlic cloves and 1 tsp minced fresh thyme, oregano, or rosemary leaves. Sauté until the garlic is golden, 2-3 minutes. Cool the mixture and use in place of the oil in the recipe. (This is especially good with white pizzas.)

Whole-wheat pizza dough
whole wheat flour gives the dough a hearty flavor but slows down the rising process. Because this dough has more flavor and is a bit more dense than pizza dough made with bread flour, it works best with lighter toppings, such as vegetables, rather than heavy toppings such as meat.

Follow the recipe, replacing 2 cups of the bread flour with an equal amount of whole-wheat flour. The dough may require an extra 30 minutes to double in size while rising.

my tips

* I like to edge my pizza dough with olive oil using a pastry brush. Then I proceed to slather on roasted garlic sauce- and the rest of my toppings.
*My FAVORITE red sauce is Boves Roasted Garlic Sauce. We order it from the store/restaurant in
*If you are including fresh herbs in your toppings, throw those on in the last minute of baking or after the bake. Same goes for dressings or other sauces (like a reduced balsamic glaze)
* I always use the low moisture-part skim mozzarella that comes in a ball or log. Precious is a good brand. I don’t use the bagged, shredded variety. Buffalo mozzarella is great for Caprese salad or bruschetta, but can be too moist for pizza.
* Mix up the cheeses. My favorite for a pepperoni pie is to mix mozzarella with some triangles of provolone.
* My favorite pepperoni is Boar’s Head, thinly sliced.
* Roasted vegetables make a super delicious topping, especially when you include ricotta and fresh herbs.
* To defrost dough– remove dough from freezer in the morning, let it spend the day in the fridge,  then let it sit on the counter for an hour or so until room temperature and ready to roll.
* The dough can be rolled even thinner for what I call crispy flat bread pizza.
* For my favorite flat bread pizza, brush a thin layer of olive oil on the dough, sprinkle with salt and dried minced onions, add a few thin layers of mozzarella and parmesan, bake, then top with fresh chives.

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3 Replies to “Pizza Week: Pizza Dough”

  1. Making your pizza dough tonight 🙂 Have to use my stand mixer because i still don’t have a food processor! btw, nice dough punch…very good form 😉

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