By Alicia Ross
The psychology of why I have mostly avoided baking bread from scratch for a good portion of my career is probably better left for my therapist. But the bottom line is that after more than 20 years, I’m beginning to have fun with yeast. Today I bring you my Easy Pizza Dough.
This recipe has plenty of variations, but this simple, straightforward version is what works best for me. It uses all-purpose flour and produces a chewy pizza crust with a nice salty punch.
The secret to making the dough is to remain flexible each time you make it. With dough, it’s about what it looks and feels like — not a list of exact amounts. Sometimes it takes 4 cups of flour; sometimes only 3½. The amount of water is also adjustable. But I have written this recipe to begin with the minimum ingredients and then to add what is necessary. (You can see step-by-step pictures on www.kitchenscoop.com.)
Finish your pizza any way you desire. If you missed last week’s recipe for Baked Tomato Sauce, check it out on the website because it makes a wonderful pizza sauce as well as a pasta sauce. Bake your pizzas with your favorite toppings at 450 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until desired doneness is reached.
I encourage you to try homemade pizza dough and let me know how it works for you. If you have tips or tricks with yeast, let me know. Enjoy!
Easy Pizza Dough
3½ to 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sugar
1 envelope (0.25 oz.) “fast rise” yeast (see note)
2 tsp. coarse sea salt
1½ cups water at 110 degrees (see note)
2 tbsp., plus 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil (divided use)
In the large bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine 3½ cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Mix with a dough hook attachment (see note). Add water and 2 tablespoons oil; mix on medium-high to high dough speed (if your mixer has it) until dough forms a solid ball.
If dough is sticky, slowly add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time. If dough is dry, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time. When the right amount of flour and water is added, dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl to form a ball. When dough hook is raised, dough will pull away from the hook as well.
Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a smooth, firm ball.
Grease a large bowl with the remaining oil. Place the dough in the middle of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set out in a warm place (about 85 degrees) for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in two. Cover with a clean cotton towel or plastic wrap and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Dough is now ready to be used in recipes.
Makes enough dough for 2 pizzas (14 inches each).
Notes: Fast rise yeast is different than active dry yeast, instant dry yeast and bread machine yeast. Be sure to purchase fast rise yeast that is marked highly active. One brand is called RapidRise.
The easiest way to measure the temperature of the water is with an instant read thermometer, which can be found at kitchen stores usually for less than $5. Be sure to not use water that is too hot; it will kill the yeast.
You must use a dough hook attachment for this dough to mix easily and successfully. Of course, it is possible to mix by hand; dough has been made by hand for centuries. This recipe, however, works best with a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.
Each of 16 portions has about 127 calories, 2.5 grams fat (0.4 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 3.2 grams protein, 23 grams carbohydrates, 0.8 grams dietary fiber, 75 milligrams sodium.