Play-by-Play: Pizza Dough
I don’t think I’d be alone in giving a resounding “YES” to a poll question gauging whether or not pizza is delicious. You can dress it up, you can dress it down, you can make it whatever you want it to be. Now, friends & fellow foodies, I invite you to take the pizza-eating experience full circle and start with a dough that you make yourself.
It’s easy, nearly effortless, and is surprisingly versatile. You can make a few batches and freeze them for use later. You can make your next pie a bit healthier by adding in whole wheat flour or ground flaxseed. Best of all, you can control the quality of what your family is eating by knowing exactly what’s going into dinner.
To make enough dough for two pizzas, you’ll need:
• 1 1/2 cups warm water
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1 (3/4-ounce) packet dry active yeast
• 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
• Nonstick cooking spray
WAKE UP THE YEAST
As the name would imply, the yeast is active but has been dried for preservation. Bring it back to life by mixing it with the water and sugar. Take the water from your tap like you would to heat up a baby’s bottle – it should feel hot on the underside of your wrist, but not so hot that it’s uncomfortable.
Why the sugar, you ask? Don’t you wake up hungry after a long nap? That yeast needs food, too. Stir everybody together in a small bowl and let them hang out until some foam starts to form at the top of the bowl, 3 to 4 minutes.
GET A LITTLE KNEADY WITH IT
In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, combine the now bloomed yeast mixture with the flour, olive oil, and salt. Start slow and mix them together for about 1 minute on low speed. The mixture will look a bit shaggy, but that’s normal.
Increase the speed to medium and knead the dough until it smoothes out and forms a ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl, 3 to 4 minutes.
LET IT REST
After all that activity, get into a bit of Zen time. Lightly grease a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the dough over to the bowl and turn it around once in order to get the dough greased up on all sides. Cover the bowl loosely with a tea towel, put it in a warm draft-free spot and simply walk away. Let the dough relax until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
After an hour or so of proofing at room temperature, you’re ready to go! Your dough should look about twice its original size and have a light, almost puffy feeling when lightly touched. To roll it out and get ready for topping, lightly dust a work surface with flour and go to town!
As I mentioned at the top of the post, adding in some ground flaxseed is a great Omega-3 boosting addition here. To make a whole wheat dough, you can substitute up to half of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour (don’t try and switch it all out – it won’t turn out the same). Remember, too, that this amount makes enough for two pies, so cut it in half and make up two or save one in the refrigerator for use tomorrow night.
If you want to save the dough to use later on, gently press it down to release the air that has built up inside of the dough. Transfer it to a zipper lock bag, squeeze out all of the air, and place it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freezer for up to 2 months. When you are ready to use refrigerated dough, let it come up to room temperature before rolling it out. When you are ready to use frozen dough, let it defrost in the refrigerator overnight before creating your next great dinner masterpiece.
Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network stars Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Bobby Deen and Paula Deen, he now works as a food stylist and producer in NYC by day and a food writer and recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following his latest posts on Instagram at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.