Monday, May 19, 2014

The Best Homemade Pizza Dough

Do you ever feel like you need a weekend from the weekend? I feel like our weekends have been too much fun lately and I'm exhausted. The weather has been gorgeous and the sun stays up late, so we have been playing outside from the moment we get up until around 10:30 every night. Yes, even the kids have been staying up. Summer sun in Alaska can really throw off our schedule. 

On Saturday we decided to break in our new deck and have a backyard BBQ. We had burgers, hot dogs, and these chicken kabobs. Is there anything better than grilling with friends? On Sunday, we caught up on errands and worked in the yard all afternoon. I spent 4-5 hours digging up my garden beds and planting seeds. Hopefully we will have lots of lettuce, snap peas, carrots, arugula, spinach, raspberries, and blueberries this year! 

When the weather is nice, we like to entertain outside. But on the occasion that the weather is rainy or cold (which happens quite often here), we love to entertain inside with pizza parties. I make dough ahead of time and everyone makes their own pizzas. It's fun for both kids and adults! I honestly can't even tell you the last time we ordered a pizza. 

I know it is easy to pick up the phone and order a pizza, but nothing beats homemade dough. It requires just a little bit of planning and effort, but it is worth it. You can even make it ahead of time and stick it in the freezer. This dough bakes up crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. It really is the best homemade pizza dough! 

The Best Homemade Pizza Dough
Serving size: makes 2 lbs. of dough (enough for 3 medium pizzas) 

4 cups bread flour + extra for dusting
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast (1 packet)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil + extra for oiling the bowl
1 3/4 cup warm water
Cornmeal for dusting (optional)

Food Processor Method:

Place the flour, yeast, and salt in a food processor fitted with a dough blade. Pulse until combined. With the processor on, add the oil, then the water through the feed tube. Continue processing for ~30 seconds until a ball forms. Then process for 15 seconds longer. 

Standing Mixer Method:

Place the flour, yeast, and salt in a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Mix on low until combined. With the mixer running, slowly add the olive oil, then the water. Knead on low for 5 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead by hand until a smooth ball forms. Use additional flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking.

Coat the sides and bottom of a large bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn over a few times to coat the dough in a thin layer of oil. 

Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm location, free of drafts. (I like to warm my oven to ~80° and place it in there.) Let rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.

Place a baking stone on the lower-middle rack in the oven. Preheat to 500°. (Note: If you do not have a baking stone, preheat the oven to 450°. Place an upside-down baking sheet in the oven.) Let the baking stone or baking sheet warm for at least 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Divide into thirds for medium pizzas. Lightly knead each third into a ball. (**At this point, the dough can be frozen for later use. Wrap each ball tightly in plastic wrap, transfer to a freezer-safe bag, and place in the freezer. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight prior to use (or leave on the counter if using the same day.)

Cover each ball lightly with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. Working with one dough ball at a time (keeping the others covered), press and roll the ball into a thin round. Transfer to a piece of parchment paper (lightly coated with cornmeal if desired). 

Slide the parchment paper with the dough onto an upside-down baking sheet. Top with sauce and desired toppings. (Note: I like to sauté some toppings such as mushrooms and peppers before placing on the pizza. They release a lot of water and can make the pizza soggy.) 

The kids made their own small pizzas:

Slide the parchment paper with the pizza onto the hot baking stone or baking sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese has melted. (Prepare the next one while this one bakes.)

Remove from the oven. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

(Gluten-free/low-carb option: Make pizzas in portobello mushroom caps.)

Source: adapted from copykat

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