Friday, March 4, 2016

Pizza Dough

My husband and I love pizza.  It's kind of hard not to love, isn't it?  We like all kinds of pizza, and one of the best things about it is that you can put pretty much whatever you want on it.  Our typical is good old pizza sauce with mozzarella and pepperoni, but I've also made chicken bacon ranch pizza, taco pizza, buffalo chicken pizza, pizza with pesto for the sauce and leftover cooked turkey and roasted red peppers for the toppings.  You can do whatever you want!
I've made quite a few pizza dough recipes over the past 10 years or so, and although many of them look pretty similar, different recipes turn out very differently.  This one originally from Forkful of Comfort has become our favorite and I've made it a lot over the past year.  It's equally wonderful rolled out really thin, normal thickness, or made into a thick pan pizza baked in a pie dish.  It works great for Wrapped Hot Dogs, too.  The recipe also doubles well to make 6 dough balls.

Quick Note: You can use whole wheat or spelt flour if you'd like, that's what I've started doing when I'm not making pizza for guests.  Pizza dough with whole wheat flour absorbs more water, so go ahead and add 3 tablespoons or so more water to the recipe.  You may need to fiddle with it and add a little more water or flour in the kneading stage, but that's just part of making dough!

If you use whole wheat flour, you will get the best results if you roll the dough out fairly thin- pan style pizza crust made with whole wheat dough is quite dense and heavy.  Spelt flour for some reason yields a softer, fluffier dough than whole wheat, so you can make it thick if you want and it will still be great.
Pizza Dough
for dough:
1 2/3 C lukewarm water (about 100 degrees, too hot will kill the yeast)
1 t sugar
1 packet yeast
5 C flour
2 t salt
1/4 C olive oil

for each pizza made with 1 dough ball:
2 T melted butter
1/4 t garlic powder
grated mozzarella
grated parmesan
sprinkle of dried oregano
In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together warm water, sugar, and yeast and let bloom for 5 minutes.  Add flour, salt, and olive oil, and stir until it becomes too difficult.  Knead with dough hook until dough comes together and looks smooth.  It should be tacky feeling, but not stick to your finger when you touch it.  If it's too dry, add additional warm water 1 Tbsp at a time, and if it's too sticky, add additional flour 2 Tbsp at a time, kneading between additions.  
Once the dough is the correct consistency, knead it for 10 minutes on low.  Cover and let rise until doubled in volume.  You can do this by heating your oven until warm (but not hot), turning off the oven, then putting the bowl of dough inside.
Divide dough into three equal balls (about 14 oz each).  Extra dough balls can either sit, covered, in your refrigerator for a couple of days before you use them (this actually improves the flavor and texture of the dough), or you can freeze them in small plastic bags.  One dough ball will feed 2 people quite comfortably.
When you're ready to make a pizza, preheat the oven to 500 and put the oven rack near the bottom of the oven.   Melt the butter in a small bowl and stir in garlic powder.  Brush part of it onto a baking sheet to grease it.  Form one of the dough balls into a disc (just double the garlic butter mixture and use a larger pan if you want to make a big pizza!) and press it into the baking pan, then roll it out to your desired thickness, anywhere from 8 to 13 inches.  Brush crust with melted garlic butter.  Put pizza sauce, toppings, and cheese on crust and sprinkle entire pizza (including crust) with parmesan.  Sprinkle the top with a little bit of oregano.  Bake until golden, about 10-13 minutes, depending on your oven, the size of the pizza, and your preferences. 

You have three options when it comes to thawing frozen dough.  In each case, once the dough is thawed and room temperature, proceed with making the pizza as written above, starting with the step to preheat the oven.

1) Let the dough ball thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then take it out of the fridge a couple of hours before you want to make the pizza so it can warm to room temperature, or 2) Let the dough sit in the bag on the counter for several hours until it's room temperature, or 3) If you need the dough quicker than that, you can place one of the balls in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place the bowl of dough in a warmed oven as described earlier.  This will speed up the thawing process.

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