I’ve read that if one can make yeast bread successfully, one can make pizza dough. I think that’s a pretty true statement. As a matter of fact, pizza dough, as I found out a few months back, is one of the easiest yeast doughs to make. That is, once I found the right recipe. Once again Betsy Oppenneer comes through with her pizza dough recipe. I love this recipe because I can make 4 12″ pizza crust, prebake them, and freeze 2 of them for later. Really is nice in a pinch when time is short. And depending on what you like on your pizzas, this can be a very inexpensive meal, maybe even for a $5 Friday meal.
As far as preparations, you’ll need about 1.5 – 2 hours to make the dough. I like to prebake the crust since I like my crusts crunchy and I can also freeze what doesn’t get used. The directions below is for by hand method. If you would like to use a stand mixer to crank out the dough (which is what I do now), check here for instructions.
2 (1/4 oz each) packages of active dry yeast (2 scant Tbsp)
2 1/2 C warm water (105-115 degrees F)
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp olive oil
5 1/2 – 6 1/2 C unbleached all purpose flour
In a large bowl, soften the yeast in the water.
Add the salt, sugar, oil and 3 cups of flour. Beat vigorously with a dough whisk or heavy-handled spoon for 2 minutes.
Gradually add more of the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough forms a mass and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.
Knead the dough for about 8 to 10 minutes, adding a little flour at a time as needed to prevent sticking. The dough is ready when it becomes smooth, elastic and blisters begin to develop on the surface.
Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Turn to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover the bowl with a tightly woven towel or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Each part will make 1 12″ round and 3/8″ thick pizza. You can divide the dough however you like if you like deep dish, really thin crust, or undivided, which will make a 1 13×18″ rectangular pizza that’s about 1″ thick.
Pat the dough into shape with your fingers and heel of your hand. I like to shape on top of a piece of parchment paper lightly oiled. I find this to be the easiest way to get the dough onto the pizza stone. It makes for easy removal too. No need for a pizza peel.
Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. (I’ve gone as short as 10 minutes and had no problems.)
Just before baking, prick the dough in several places with a fork. Put the crust directly on the pizza stone. If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can place the dough on a well-greased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Check at the 5 minute mark for bubbles. If there are bubbles, use a clean towel to push the air out of the bubbles. At 10 minutes, the crust should be slightly firm and pale. Remove immediately to a cooling rack.
You can start building your pizza! Depending on what the toppings are, the general rule of thumb is to bake for 10 minutes. I bake mine at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. I recommend starting there and then adjusting the temperature and the time to get the perfect crust browning and to cook the topping. For deep-dish pizza, bake for 15-18 minutes.
If you are freezing the crust, make sure the crust is completely cooled. Wrap with plastic wrap and then foil. Will keep in the refrigerator for several months. When you want pizza, just take it out of the freezer, add your toppings and bake in a preheated 450 degrees oven for 10 minutes. No need to thaw the crust! How easy is that?
The pizza in the picture above had a simple tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, onions, mushrooms, spicy Italian sausage (precooked), and pepperoni. Yum!
Hope everyone is having a great weekend. Now go and eat well.