There was a time in my life when I pretty much survived on pizza. Rarely was it good pizza. Most of the time it was pretty bad, but it was very cheap. One time it was practically poisonous. Let me tell you, getting food poisoning from pizza on the same night you see Silence of the Lambs and have the cover art from Front 242's Tyranny (For You) album stuck in your head, well, it just doesn't make for a restful night's sleep.
Thankfully, I can make my own pizza now. This pizza dough recipe makes a crust that is chewy on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside, just the way I like it. While you could probably make/knead the dough in a standing mixer, I like to do mine by hand (I don't even own a mixer). Ten minutes of kneading dough by hand makes me feel less guilty about the subsequent pizza feasting.
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm water (110F)
1 package active dry yeast
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
~3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon olive oil
In large glass bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over sugar water and allow to sit for 5 minutes, or until yeast is foamy. With a wooden spoon, stir in 1 cup of flour and mix very well. Allow to sit for 5 minutes so that the flour can absorb the water. Stir in 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt and another 1/2 cup of flour and beat the dough with the spoon until the dough is very elastic. Add another 1 cup of flour. Transfer dough to floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, adding the remaining 1/2 cup of flour only if dough is too sticky.
Grease a clean bowl with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Place dough in bowl, turning to coat surface with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, around 1 1/2 hours.
Turn risen dough out onto floured surface and knead for about a minute to remove air bubbles. Form dough into a ball and allow to rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Place oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 500F.
Divide dough into quarters and flatten each ball into an 8-inch circle or square, leaving the edges a bit thicker to form a lip for your crust. Place dough round on an ungreased baking sheet. Prick the surface with the tines of a fork to help prevent air bubbles from forming while baking. Top pizzas with your favorite sauce, cheese, etc. Bake for 10 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
Makes 4 ~8-inch diameter pizzas.
You can use this dough to make calzones. Form into a 8-inch circle and place fillings on one half of the circle, avoiding the edges. Fold bare half of dough over the fillings and pinch and crimp the edges to seal. Bake on middle rack in 400F oven for around 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
The dough makes good breadsticks too. Divide dough into 8 pieces and roll into 10-inch long snakes. Place on ungreased baking sheet and brush with olive oil or melted butter. Sprinkle with salt and herbs for savory or cinnamon sugar for something sweet. Bake on middle rack in 450F oven for around 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
The unbaked dough can be frozen. After allowing to rise and kneading to get air bubbles out, form dough into ball and wrap tightly in plastic wrap (get as much air out as you can) and place the wrapped dough in a freezer storage bag. To thaw: transfer from freezer to refrigerator and allow to thaw for 24 hours. Leave dough on countertop, covered, for an hour before forming pizzas.
Clockwise from upper left, the pictured pizzas are:
Lasagna - Jarred marinara sauce, creamed spinach and turkey lasagna filling, carmelized onions and pre-packaged four-cheese blend.
Quattro Formaggio - Jarred marinara sauce with pre-packaged four-cheese blend. A grinding of fine black pepper on top.
Carmelized Onion & Cheese - Pre-packaged four-cheese blend topped with carmelized onions. A grinding of fine black pepper on top.
Curry, Peas and Yogurt - Curry sauce, with the peas and yogurt added after baking.