An Excellent Homemade Pizza Dough Recipe

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There are many fast and easy ways to make homemade pizza. Once you have the dough ready to go, the process proceeds very quickly. The fastest overall method is to buy a premade crust and apply sauce and toppings yourself. If you want to step up your game, make your own dough. There are lots of homemade pizza dough recipes that will produce a good, but not great, pizza dough in about an hour. For a long time I used one that was from Mario Batali and published in the New York Times. This is not that recipe. This is a recipe that takes a little more time, but will result in seriously delicious pizza crust that is restaurant-worthy and will have your dinner guests asking for repeat invitations.

The following approach is distilled from information I gleaned off of other websites, most notably Jeff Varasano’s. He is a restaurateur and serious pizza geek. There is lot (and I do mean a lot) of great information at his website. If published in book form it would probably be the size of a small novel. Most of us have a life other than making pizza and don't want to spend hours on research. I have tried to simplify the recipe based on my own experience. If you would rather cook than read about cooking, and are little bit adventurous in the kitchen, let's get started.

This recipe takes less than an hour (half of it “waiting”), plus a day or more to rise. I typically make enough dough for 3 pizzas. It will keep in the freezer. More on that later.

King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour, 5-pounds (Pack of 4)
King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour, 5-pounds (Pack of 4)

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Ingredients

6-1/2 cups of flour, plus another cup or more that you will use along the way. I recommend King Arthur's Bread Flour. Other bread flours should work fine. You can experiment with using a small percentage of whole wheat flour.

3 cups of water

3 tsp salt (a little less is probably OK)

1 packet of yeast – Instant dry yeast is fine. I often use a pack of ale or wine yeast from a local home brewing shop. It seems to give a little more character to the flavor. (I have recently started to use a sourdough yeast culture. The results are good, but it does take some time to maintain the yeast culture.)

Making Your Dough

Start with a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, the yeast and the salt. Add the water a half cup or cup at a time, stirring thoroughly with each addition. Room temperature or cool water is fine. The yeast is going to do a long slow rise. (Do not dissolve yeast in warm water and let sit for 10 minutes. One packet of yeast is enough for this recipe!) By the time you have added all of the water and mixed the ingredients together, it will be a fairly wet dough mixture - actually a big gooey mess. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it sit at least 15 minutes - 20 is OK.

Dust a section of your counter or a large cutting board (I find a wood board works well) with some of the remaining flour and turn out the dough onto the board. Knead the dough for a full 10 minutes adding flour as you go along to keep the dough from being too sticky. Try to add just enough flour. After 10 minutes form the dough into a dome shaped mound, cover with a towel again and let it sit a full 10 minutes.

Spinach Pizza
Spinach Pizza | Source

Divide the dough into 3 even portions. Each portion is enough for a 15” pizza. (You could divide into 4 portions if you want smaller pies, say 12”.) Gently knead each dough for up to a minute and form into a smooth dome shaped mound. Place each dough into a sealed plastic or glass container, preferably about 6” diameter. The container should be very lightly oiled (olive of course!). Place the containers in the fridge. The dough should be suitable for pizza making after 24 – 48 hours. (Instant dry yeast will work quicker than other yeasts.) You may see a bubble or 2 in the dough around the second day - that’s OK. After 2 days, if you do not plan to use your dough by day 3, put it in the freezer. When you want to use it, an 8 – 12 hour refrigerator thaw is needed.

Note – all of the quantities and times given are close approximates. Your mileage may vary! Be adventurous and experimental! You will be richly rewarded with delicious homemade pizza dough.

© 2011 chet thomas

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