Thursday, February 24, 2011

Perfect Pizza Dough

Back in my earlier days as a cook, the idea of making my own pizza dough was very intimidating. I thought that making homemade pizza dough was for the "real cooks." Growing up I never recall having homemade pizza—ever! When I would visit various pizzerias, I would marvel as they tossed the dough in the air. It all just seemed so… scientific and well, difficult.

Until one day… years ago I received a Family Fun magazine and inside there was a step-by-step to making homemade pizza. When I saw the picture of a little boy—all smiles—pressing out his pizza dough, I thought maybe I could give it a shot.

I've been making my own pizza dough for years now. Sometimes I even toss it in the air, although I look a bit more ridiculous doing so then the "professionals." But hey, I'm learning. Having tried many different recipes through the years, this one has become a favorite and my "go to." It does have a cup of whole wheat flour in it. You may, of course, substitute all-purpose white flour if preferred.

I will be posting a recipe on Saturday for a pizza that will include this dough. You can, however, use this dough with any pizza. This recipe is enough to make 2 large(15 inch) pizzas. You can make one and freeze the other for another time. Or, make in advance and freeze both separately.

Perfect Pizza Dough
(No tossing required)

1 and 3/8 cups warm water
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for coating
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (or sub another cup all-purpose flour)
3/4 teaspoon salt

Place warm water in a large bowl. stir in the honey until dissolved, then sprinkle the yeast onto the surface of the water. Let the yeast float there for 1 minute, then stir it into the water.
Combine the flours and salt in a separate bowl. Pour the olive oil and flour mixture into the yeast mixture. With a wooden spoon mix the dough until it forms a ball.
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic, adding flour as needed.
Coat the inside of a large bowl with olive oil. Press the ball of dough into the bottom of the bowl, then flip it over so the oiled side is on top.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch the dough down, separate into 2 equal parts. Lightly dust pizza stone with flour and/or cornmeal. Using a rolling pin spread 1 part on a large pizza stone (or baking sheet). Follow directions for whatever pizza you would like to make. Or simply, cover with sauce and toppings. Bake at 425 degrees 15-20 minutes.

Yield: 2 pounds of dough. This is enough to make 2 large (15 inch) pizzas

Notes for faster prep time: If you have a bread machine you can put all ingredients in and put on the dough setting. Follow manufacturer's instructions.
If you have a Kitchen Aide Mixer you can use your dough hook attachment for all the kneading.

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