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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Pizza Dough

Ah, this is a go-to recipe for me.  It always turns out perfect and it freezes well.  I have made this dough so many times that I know the measurements by heart.  I use it for pizzas, calzones, and occasionally I will make plain old cheesy garlic bread with it.

The first time I made pizza with it I didn't roll the dough out thin enough and it puffed up around the cheese so that it looked more like a bread bowl of melted cheese than a pizza, but it tasted delicioius.  The texture of the dough is perfectly balanced.  There is just enough chewiness to it, the bottom of the crust gets wonderfully crispy, and the top of the crust is perfectly soft.

This is the first raised yeast recipe I ever tried.  I got the recipe from Annie's Eats.  After reading through it multiple times I finally decided to try it a little over a year ago, and I'm so glad I took the leap.  Since then I have made at least 8 different kinds of rolls, 3 kinds of sandwich breads, and I even tried Pioneer Woman's Raised Yeast Doughnuts.  They all turned out quite well.  I've even been a bit adventurous, attempting to alter recipes, turning the regular rolls into knots, turning knots into rolls, and with this particular recipe I think it's even better when you add about 1-2 Tbsp of fresh rosemary.  The smell in the house when it bakes is unbelievable.  It reminds me of the rosemary bread they serve at Macaroni Grill.

If you've never tried to make bread before, please don't be scared.  This is a great recipe to start with because there's no need to shape loaves, rolls, knots, or clovers.  You just roll it out and bake and it makes delicious pizza.  My whole family loves this recipe, with and without the rosemary.  Even the leftovers are good, if you have any.  There's no need to make your own sauce or use special ingredients to make amazing pizza.  All you really have to have is a great crust and the rest of the pizza will kind of fall in line.

Bonus:  It's way cheaper to make this than to buy pizza, even frozen pizza.

This recipe makes enough dough for 4 calzones or 2 12-inch pizzas.  1 calzone will be plenty to feed one person and 1 pizza will comfortably feed 2 people.  A family of 4 will want to bake both pizzas.

Take the leap and make your own pizza.

Pizza Dough

1 3/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 (2 1/4 tsp) packet yeast (I use rapid rise or active dry yeast)
2 Tbsp olive oil
22 oz all purpose flour (about 4 cups but it's really better if you measure by weight if you can)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1-2 Tbsp rosemary (optional)

In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup heat the water.  Once the water is the right temperature sprinkle the yeast over the top and let sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast dissolves and swells.  Use a fork to mix the yeast and water together and add the olive oil.

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the salt and flour (and rosemary if you're using it, I didn't this time.)

Mixing with a wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment on low speed add the yeast mixture slowly to the flour mixture until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a well floured work surface or switch to the dough hook attachment and knead

until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes or 5 minutes with the stand mixer.

Form the dough into a ball and put it in a deep bowl, sprayed with vegetable oil spray, turning once to coat with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap.

Preheat the oven to any temperature for 1 minute.  At the end of the minute turn the oven off and put the bowl of dough in the oven to rise for 1 1/2-2 hours, until it doubles in size.

Once the dough has doubled press it down gently with your hands.  Separate the dough into 2 equal size pieces and form each into a ball.  Cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel and allow to rest about 10 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.

At this point if you aren't using your dough in the next 30 minutes wrap each ball in plastic wrap, place it in a freezer bag, and place it in the freezer.  When you plan to use the dough simply place it in the fridge the morning you plan to use it to thaw and it should be thawed by the time you start to cook dinner.

If you are using the dough right away, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

You can sprinkle your pizza pan with a bit of cornmeal to keep the pizza from sticking but I prefer it without.

Spread the dough out onto a 12-16 inch pizza pan.  (I use my 16 inch pan for all pizzas even if I don't spread the dough to the edges of the pan.)  You can either roll the dough out with a rolling pin into a moderately round shape or press it out with your fingers.  Poke the top of the dough with a fork several times to avoid bubbles in the dough.  Pre-bake the dough with nothing on it for about 8 minutes to be sure it cooks all the way through without burning your toppings.

Remove the dough from the oven and top with sauce.

Add half of your cheese (about 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.)

Add toppings (we did pepperoni, green peppers, and black olives.)

 Top with remaining half of cheese (another cup of mozzarella.)

Bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the cheese begins to bubble and brown in spots (more for me because I like my cheese brown) and remove from the oven.

Transfer the pizza to a cutting board to cut.  I like to cut mine with my chef's knife, but a pizza slicer works just as well.

Serve warm.

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