Friday, February 8, 2013

My Favorite Dough

We love pizza in this house. I don't think I actually know anybody who doesn't enjoy a slice every now and then (or three times a week). The only problem is that pizza is kind of pricey if you're going to eat it several times a week, kind of like we did when we first got married. How to remedy the situation? Make our own pizza, of course. 

I had never reeeeally made pizza dough from scratch before. I had never really made bread before. I have to say that my first few attempts weren't so great. They were edible, but not great. I searched and searched for that perfect pizza dough recipe. After much trial and error (more error than trial), I finally found a good recipe. This dough was not fail proof, but I blame that on my lack of bread making skills. That being said, I have always found pizza dough more difficult to make than regular bread. Sometimes it just wouldn't rise even though I had proofed the yeast. I then took my mother's advice and just added a little extra yeast. Worked like a charm. 
I think I have finally pretty much perfected both recipe and technique. I don't really measure ingredients when I make pizza dough. I use a measuring cup for the flour, but I don't scrape the top with a butter knife like you're supposed to. I pour in some oil and shake in some salt and it turns out the same slightly chewy, not-too-fluffy crust every time. I know it isn't the most precise practice, but it works for me. It's not like there are very many ingredients anyway. I also stopped following the "place dough in an oiled bowl" step once I realized that I was accomplishing nothing except creating an extra dirty bowl. No, thank you.

This recipe is not a difficult one. I have just learned that usually the less kneading the better. Even if the instructions tell me to knead for 8-10 minutes, I just knead until I get a smooth consistency, usually only a minute or two. If I make the dough earlier in the day to get it out of the way, I will let it rise twice. Or you could always use half or a third of  the yeast and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight. I haven't tried that with this particular recipe, but I'm sure it would work just fine. Of course, I am no baker or bread connoisseur.

Also, I'm not very good at making pretty food. But it tastes good!

Pizza Dough

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
3 cups flour plus a little more for kneading
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 cups water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Activate the yeast using about a 1/2 cup warm water (about 110F. Warm to the touch, but not hot) and the sugar. Add together and let sit until bubbles form, 5-10 minutes. Combine the yeast, flour and 2 teaspoons salt in a bowl. Begin mixing and add the remaining 1/2 cup water and olive oil. Continue mixing until the mixture forms a ball and is sticky. If it is too dry, add water a very little at a time until it acquires the desired consistency. 

Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and allow to rise in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, about 2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto your floured surface and knead it until it is a smooth ball. Don't knead too much, just a few turns should do it. Divide it into desired portions roll into balls. Let rest covered for 20-30 minutes. Roll into pizzas. Brush the dough with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper (and a few red pepper flakes if you're feeling spicy) before adding the toppings, and spread oil on the surface of the sheet pan or use parchment paper. Bake at 500 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, or until crust browns. If your oven gets hotter, turn it all the way up and bake for less time, 5-10 minutes. 

Recipe adapted from A Chow Life

I also use this recipe for cheesy or garlic bread. Just add some minced garlic and a little cheese instead of toppings and serve with marinara.

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