When my son was young, I made pizza almost once a week…. it was very inexpensive and frankly, it was easy. Well… it’s easy if you have a mixer with a dough hook. My recipe for Pizza Dough is from The Joy of Cooking…. a very basic bread dough. The dough is fool-proof..... I swear to you.
When making any kind of yeast dough… you have to remember that the recipe is a little flexible. Believe it or not, the amount of humidity in the air will determine the exact amount of flour or water you need. What I like about the Joy of Cooking recipe is that I always start with their amounts… and have to vary it very little. Where I live in New York… we don’t always have high humidity… so I rarely have to add more flour…. where I live in Georgia… well let’s just say it can be Amazon-like humidity…. so I almost always need to add a couple of extra tablespoons of flour.
My husband taught me to make bread dough (pizza is a bread dough) many years ago…. He was so funny…. He kept saying you have to feel the dough …. I thought he’d lost his mind… He taught me to start by using a recipe… but then go by the feel of the dough to direct me as to what I need to add.
In a nutshell…. If your dough is sticky to the touch… it needs more flour… add a tablespoon at time… knead it and feel it again…. what you are aiming for… and forgive me this analogy… but it really is the closest description to what you need to have…. It should have the feel and texture of bubble gum after you’ve chewed it for a while…. By the same token… if the dough feels a bit dry… add a tablespoon of water… but I must tell you… in all the times I’ve made this dough… I have never had to add water… just a little flour.
I love Fleishmann’s Rapid Rise Yeast…. The recipe calls for you to allow the dough to rise for two hours… using Rapid Rise… it took only about an hour for the dough to double in size… and that’s what you’re looking for… it needs to double in size.
The warm wet towel you will need to put over the dough will get dough on it... it will just peel off.
I always put the yeast in a measuring cup with warm water and about ½ teaspoon of sugar and let it sit for about 10 minutes or so… you want to see it foam … I usually get a nice little head on it like a beer… but I have had it where it foamed but not much… and I thought the dough wouldn’t rise, but it did…
I mentioned that I add a bit of sugar to the water and the yeast…. I haven’t read it anywhere else… but this is the way I was taught and it works… so I don’t change what isn’t broken…
I have a pizza dough pan with holes in the bottom that works well…. I also have a pizza stone that works well…. and frankly… I’ve used my 17 ½ inch rectangular baking pan for a rectangular pizza that worked well too. I wouldn’t get too caught up in buying expensive equipment until you’re sure you like doing this and will do it regularly…. Honestly my results have been good with all of the pans.
Topping possibilities are endless…. use whatever strikes your fancy…. My ingredient list is just a suggestion. When I use meatball or Italian sausage, I use leftovers from previous meals… if I don’t make pizza a day or two after having meatballs or sausage… I freeze it in quantities I can use for pizza…
This recipe makes two 14 inch pizza crusts…. If that’s too much for you or you have a bigger pan…. when the dough is in the shape of a ball after rising… cut the dough in half or to the size you need and put the leftover dough in a Ziploc bag that you sprayed the inside with cooking oil. Squeeze all the air out and seal and put in the fridge… you can refrigerate it up to 5 days. The dough may rise some more… and if the bag puffs up… just let the air out and re-seal.
You can use the leftover dough for so many things… calzones… stromboli… bread sticks… individual pan pizzas…. rolls …. the list is probably even longer.
This is really easy… honest!
Recipe: Homemade Pizza
All you need:
4 cups of flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 packet dry Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise yeast
1 1/3 cup warm water (about 85 degrees F.)
½ teaspoon sugar
1 jar Pizza Sauce
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Cooking spray (olive oil preferred)
Onions, sliced thin and sautéed in a little olive oil until translucent
Italian sausage (hot or sweet or both), cooked and crumbled
Meatballs (2 large should do it), cut-up or crumbled
Red or green peppers, sliced
All you need to do:
Heat your oven on “warm” for about 5 minutes, then leave the door closed and turn off.
Spray your pizza pan with cooking spray… is using a pan without holes… sprinkle coarse cornmeal on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
In a measuring cup… measure 1 1/3 cups warm water (from the tap is fine)… make sure it’s not too hot... should be warm... not cold either.
Add ½ teaspoon sugar and yeast packet. Let it sit for about 10 minutes while the yeast grows.
In your mixer bowl, add 4 cups flour.
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Add the yeast and water.
You can use your paddle attachment first to mix the dough until the ingredients are incorporated.
Switch to your dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes.
Check the dough… if it is sticky to the touch add a tablespoon of flour and continue to knead the dough.
Re-check the dough…. It should be smooth and soft and elastic.
Dump the dough on a heavily floured board and hand knead it several times.
Lightly oil a large bowl.
Add the dough and roll it in the bowl several times to lightly coat with oil.
Place a warm damp towel over the bowl and place in your warm oven… the oven should not be hot… just mildly warm.
Allow to rise for about two hours…. If using Rapid Rise yeast… it may take only an hour….so check it after an hour... the dough should be doubled in size.
When dough has doubled… remove from the bowl to a floured board.
The dough will deflate, knead the dough lightly by hand with the flour on the board until it is no longer sticky and is smooth and elastic.
Roll the dough out to about 1 inch larger than your pan.
Roll the dough slightly over the rolling pin to help transfer it to the pan.
Roll the extra ½ inch of dough around the edge to form the crust.
Using a fork, prick the bottom of the dough about 6 times or so…. this is so the dough doesn’t puff up.
Brush the dough with a little olive oil.
Spread the pizza sauce over the dough.
Sprinkle whatever toppings you decide to use over the dough.
Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese…. sprinkle desired amount… we like it cheesy … I used about 1½ cup for a 16 inch pizza.
Spray the cheese lightly with cooking oil spray… this will help the cheese to melt and spread.
Bake at 400 degrees F. for 25 minutes or until cheese has melted and pizza is bubbly.
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