The Black Arts: Pizza Dough

Pizza. I love it. It’s probably my favorite food. Whether topped with fig, arugula, and prosciutto, or good old pepperoni and mushroom, I could eat it at least once a week (okay, more like five times a week).

I’ve been making my own pizza dough for about five years, which in this house means hundreds of crusts. Whenever I tell people I make my own dough, they get super-impressed. Don’t be impressed! It’s easy.

This is how I make pizza dough. It’s not THE BEST RECIPE EVARRRRR or THE LAST PIZZA DOUGH RECIPE YOU’LL EVER NEED or anything like that. But once you master the basic technique, you can fiddle with it until it’s perfect for you.

Okay, here we go.

Round up your usual suspects:

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That’s a stand mixer, all-purpose flour, the dough hook attachment to your stand mixer, yeast, salt, a teaspoon, a one-cup measure, whole wheat flour (if you’re feeling virtuous), and honey. Not pictured: olive oil. Grab that, too.

Squeeze some honey into a bowl. Don’t measure. Just squeeze:
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Add one cup of pretty warm tap water (like a nice hot bath, not scalding). Then add two teaspoons of yeast. If you buy yeast in packets, use one packet.

Stir that until the yeast granules dissolve. Put the bowl somewhere quiet and preferably warm for 10 minutes. While that’s happening, mix together your flour and salt. If you want a whole wheat crust, use 1 cup whole wheat flour and 2 cups regular flour. If you are WHITE BREAD 4EVA, use 3 cups of all-purpose flour. I throw in about a teaspoon of salt. Drizzle in three to four tablespoons of olive oil and mix it around.

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By now your ten minutes should be up, and your yeast mixture should look like this:

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That creamy foam? That’s yeast farts. They’re delicious. If your yeast mixture doesn’t look like that, it’s for one of two reasons: your water temperature was too hot or too cold, or you had bad yeast. Just take a deep breath and try again. Don’t panic. It’s just bread, people.

Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture. Attach the dough hook to the mixer and turn that baby on low.

First it will look like this:

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Then, after a minute, it will look like this:

And finally, it will come together like this:

If it hasn’t come together after a few minutes of mixing, add water, a tablespoon at a time. If it’s soupy, add more flour, about a quarter-cup at a time. Just tweak it. Eventually the hook will collect all the dough. When that happens, turn the machine to the next higher setting and let it go for about 5-7 minutes.

Now take the dough out (the bowl should be relatively clean) and pour in a tablespoon of olive oil. Put the dough back in and roll it around to coat it with the oil.

Then let it take a nap for about an hour.

(Shhhh.)

After an hour, it should be about twice as big. It is at this point that we get to bust out the PIZZA FIST OF JUSTICE.

Punch the dough. Dooooo it.

Punch the dough until it’s all deflated.

At this point you have three options:

1. Freeze it. Put the deflated dough in a freezer bag, label it, and freeze it. When you’re ready to use it, take it out of the freezer a couple of hours ahead of time and let it thaw in a bowl.

2. Use it now. Let the dough rise again, for about 30 minutes to an hour, then stretch it out on a pizza pan. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes, top, then bake until your toppings are appropriately melty/hot.

3. Use it tomorrow. Put the bowl with the dough in your fridge. When you’re ready to use it the next day, let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before stretching.

Recipe, for those who like that kind of thing:

1 cup warm water
2 tsp. active dry yeast, or one packet
1-2 TB honey

Combine in a small bowl. Let sit in a warm place for 10 minutes.

3-4 cups flour
3-4 TB olive oil
1 tsp. salt

Combine in the large bowl of your stand mixer.

When yeast has proofed, pour into flour mixture. Mix on low for 3-5 minutes, then on medium-low for 5 minutes, until dough has cleared the sides of the bowl and is smooth. Remove dough; drizzle oil into bowl and roll dough in oil until coated. Let sit, covered, for 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Follow instructions for freezing or using above.

 

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