Thursday, November 13, 2008

Easy Pizza Dough

I was talking with my fellow testers yesterday about (what else?) food and all of them seemed to be amazed that I had made my own pizza dough the night before. It's a snap and it makes a much better pizza dough than you can buy. It really doesn't take too long either. Actual hands on time is maybe 15 minutes and another hour or so waiting for it to rise. The nice thing is you can create a nice little pizza for dinner when you don't want to rattle a bunch of pots and pans. The other night on the homemade pizza we had roasted red peppers(from a jar), marinated artichoke hearts(from a jar) and some grated cheese(Irish Kerrygold Ivernia). Quick and easy and very tasty.

This recipe will make the dough for two 6 or 7 inch pizzas or one 14 inch or so. You can double the recipe or even triple it but there are only two of us and this is just right for us. I always make sure I have the ingredients for a quick dough on hand.

1/2 cup warm water
1 and 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour or all purpose is ok
1 package of Rapid rise yeast
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 and 1/2 tsp olive oil.
1/2 tsp of honey or a tsp of sugar (white or brown)

Preheat your oven to 500 and if you have a pizza stone(recommended) put it in the oven to heat.

Dissolve the honey(or sugar) in the water and add the yeast and mix.
Let the yeast mixture sit for about 10 minutes until it begins to foam.(proof the yeast)
Add the oil to the mixture and stir an then stir in all of the flour and salt and mix until it comes together. Turn it out on a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until it forms a nice dough. Return the mixing bowl(that you have wiped out and oiled lightly with more olive oil) cover, and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled, it should take about an hour depending on the temperature.

I use parchment paper but you can just turn the risen dough out on a floured board or your peel and, without working it too much, cut it in two pieces for two individual pizzas or leave it whole. Spread in out into two 6 or 7 inch rounds or one 14 or so inch round( I like my crust kind of thin) and set it aside to puff up a bit which should only take a few minutes.
When you are ready to assemble just paint the dough with olive oil and put on the toppings you want. I don't like a loaded pizza so I am usually kind of sparse. I go for flavor. Thinly sliced tomato, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella or pesto and grated parmesan or just a little fresh goat cheese and some chopped mixed herbs. Bake it until it browns on the edges. Careful not to overcook.

Note: if you are using a pizza stone, they work best on the very bottom rack of the oven. This gives the crust time to crisp before the toppings start to burn.

You can also mix up the dough, knead it and then put it in a zipper plastic bag and put it in the fridge. It will keep all day or even overnight. If you are thinking pizza that night make the dough in the morning and let it idle in the fridge all day. It will actually develop better flavor with a slow cool rise.

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