Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pizza Dough

Ok I've decided that I am truly enough of a pizza-holic that this blog needs a post dedicated to nothing else but pizza dough.

In my opinion the first (and most important) step to making amazing homemade pizza is the crust. And interestingly enough that's usually the step that people skip, opting out for store bought, because they think it's too difficult or time consuming.
Please promise me you will try making your own dough at least once, and in return I promise you you'll never buy another crust again.

First things first, pizza dough does take time. More time that buying a pre-made dough at a grocery store, but not so much time that it will throw off your whole day. The biggest thing to remember is that the dough needs about 2 hours to rise. So you can make the dough 4 hours before dinner, 8 hours, 24 hours, etc; just as long as it gets about 2 hours.
Personally I usually know by early afternoon if we're going to make pizza that night and I'll whip up a batch of dough that will usually get more than 2 hours of rising time.
I also prefer to make a double batch and save some dough for another day. The flavour of the crust greatly improves after the dough has sat in my fridge for a few days*, and the dough will also be easier to roll out as well.

My favourite pizza dough recipe can be found here on Smitten Kitchen. Like I mentioned above I like to make a double batch and once its risen I divide the dough (into thirds) for a thin crust pizza that is usually around 10-12".

Ok, enough talk! Let's get down to business:

For one large thicker crust pizza or two thin crust pizzas:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 teaspoon yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the warm water with the yeast and let yeast dissolve. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and oil to flour and mix with a wooden spoon until mixture comes together to roughly form dough. Sprinkle some flour on a clean counter and dump the bowls contents onto the counter. Knead the dough for only a few minutes. Pour a little oil into the bowl you used to make the dough and return the dough to it, turning the dough over a few times to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit until doubled, usually an hour or two.
Once doubled in size, bring dough back to counter and press the air out of it. Shape into a ball and let sit for another 20 minutes or so.**

On a lightly floured surface begin to roll out your dough. I use a rolling pin because I like a thin crust, but feel free to use your hands to gently flatten the dough and stretch it into a larger shape. Use as much flour is necessary to roll the dough without it sticking to anything (once your desired thickness is achieved you can easily shake the dough a bit to remove any excess flour).

I use a baking stone and a 500 degree oven to cook my pizzas and have come up with a easy little system of getting the pizza onto the hot stone. I cover a large chopping block with parchment paper on which I place my rolled out dough. I dress up my pizza with whatever toppings and when I'm ready to bake it, I place the chopping block just over the hot stone in the oven, and pull the parchment paper (with pizza on top) off the block and onto the stone.

Well there you have it. My tried and true method for making the most delicious and fool proof pizza dough. Now it's time for you to make your own and impress your friends!

*The longest I've let it sit was a week, it smelled mighty yeasty but it was fantastic!

**If you're making your dough well in advance of dinner this is the time in which you'd wrap tightly the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Make sure you let the dough come back to room temperature (give it an hour or so out of the fridge) before using. Sometimes I'll put the dough on the top of the stove while the oven is pre-heating to help speed this up.
Also if you're making a double batch this is also the step in which you'd want to divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces and let them separately for the 20 minutes.Pin It

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