how to make fabulous pizza dough
The one thing everyone here in the merry gourmet home can agree on is that we love pizza. Even the picky 3 1/2 year old, Oliver. Now, we don’t always agree on toppings, but that’s really just a minor hurdle to overcome.
I’ve made pizza before, but I confess that I cheated a bit. When I made this deep dish pizza, I used this pizza dough mix from King Arthur Flour. I was nervous about making my own pizza dough from scratch. The idea of working with yeast sort of freaked me out. For no good reason, mind you. I just had never worked with it before, so I was certain – absolutely positive – I would screw it up somehow. But, life in the kitchen is about making mistakes, learning lessons, and moving on, right?
It took a lot of mental preparation for me to gear up for making pizza. I did a lot of reading. I reviewed the pizza section in my copy of Amy’s Bread. Deb of Smitten Kitchen wrote about some of her pizza making pointers. Jennifer has lots of experience making pizza, even on the grill, so I was sure to soak up what I could from her posts. I bought a pizza stone and a pizza peel.
And finally, I was ready.
And, like most of my new experiences in the kitchen, working with yeast was no big deal. None, whatsoever. The dough came together perfectly. I used my stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, so it made it really simple. I made the dough in advance, and I let it rise slowly in the refrigerator. It probably didn’t rise to it’s full height (i.e., double in size), but it worked great regardless.
Since the kids – and my picky husband – can never agree on what to put on top, I made two pizzas with completely different toppings. For both pizzas, I made a simple tomato sauce – no recipe involved – using sauteed onions and garlic, diced tomatoes, dried oregano and basil. The sauce simmered for about 45 minutes, thickening up nicely. And, because I have a husband who can’t stand chunks of tomato, I threw it in the blender and pureed it until smooth.
The kids’ pizza was simply mozzarella and pepperoni. Maddie and Oliver had a blast placing each pepperoni slice in just the right position, then watching it bake up in the oven. For the grown-up version, I used some chicken sausage flavored with sweet peppers, thinly sliced red onion, and broccoli florets. Just to see if my stone was worth the price, I baked one on the stone and one on a pan. The one baked on the stone had a perfectly crisp crust on the bottom. The stone? Totally worth it.
This may have been our first family dinner where everyone – even the 3 1/2 year old – was content with the food on the table. We’ll be doing this again, soon. Oh, yeah we are.
1/4 cup dry white wine *
3/4 cup warm water
1 package dry active yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cups (435 grams) all-purpose flour
Combine wine and water - both should be warm (110 degrees or so). [Note: I warmed up the wine & water together in the microwave until it was the right temp.] In a mixing bowl, combine the wine, water, and yeast - stir until dissolved. Add the honey, salt, and olive oil. Mix well until combined.
Add about 1 cup of flour to the mixing bowl and stir to make a wet paste. Add in the rest of the flour and incorporate [If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, this is a great use for it.].
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 to 3 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat dough ball with oil. Cover with a towel and let rise for 45 minutes. Alternatively, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
When dough has doubled in size, punch dough down gently with your fist. Cut the dough into two equal pieces for two 12-inch round pizzas. Now, go make your favorite pizza recipe!**
* Note: If you don't have any white wine on hand, or you prefer not to use wine, just use 1 cup of water and omit the wine. But, isn't everything better with a bit of wine?
** I stretched the dough gently into 12-inch rounds then topped with sauce, cheese, and toppings. I baked mine in a 500 degree F oven for about 10-12 minutes. The crust was divine.
Recipe slightly adapted from Mario Batali's recipe in the New York Times from August 2007.