I think that there is a lot of unnecessary fuss around pizza dough, with special ingredients and special processes and really it makes it all sound so intimidating. I don’t really know a lot of people who make their own pizza dough. Probably because it is so easy to buy at the store. But I think also because it can seem like a mystifying process. Should I use wine? or honey? or special yeast? or special flour? Should I do it in a food processor? With a hand mixer? In a stand mixer?
And here are your answers. No, you don’t need special ingredients unless you want them. And no, you don’t need any equipment aside from a bowl, a wooden spoon, and your hands.
But the complication in so many recipes is a shame because if you are going to make some kind of yeast/bread product in your house, pizza dough is the one to do. It hardly requires any attention. No special skills are necessary, and a basic pizza dough calls for no special ingredients. It freezes well, so if you make extra you can save it for later. One recipe makes two decent sized pizzas, so I usually make one pizza and stick the other half of the dough in the freezer.
In Starkville, Mississippi, there is this tiny little pizza restaurant called Stromboli’s, and it has the absolute best pizza I have ever had in my life. And what makes it so amazing is the crust. They use this sweet pizza dough that stays soft and chewy and oh my goodness now I really want some. (Stromboli’s…would you deliver to Houston right now, pretty please?)
And I guess here is where pizza dough can become a bit mystifying. Because I can’t quite figure out their secret. This recipe is the closest I’ve come. And believe me, it’s still incredibly simple. I’ve tried all those special tricks: wine, honey, etc. And really I think just adding a bit of sugar to a classic pizza dough recipe is just about perfect, the best I can do besides actually going to Stromboli’s. So give it a try. I promise it doesn’t have to be complicated.
adapted from The All New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Wait Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Bake Time: 15 minutes
Makes enough for 2 medium pizzas
1 cup warm water*
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1 (1/4 oz.) envelope active dry yeast
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoons olive oil
olive oil or nonstick cooking spray, for greasing bowl
1. Measure water in a 1-cup measuring cup. Immediately add yeast and sugar (while water is still very warm). Stir together, and set aside for 5 minutes until mixture is bubbly.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine flour, salt, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. (Start with just 3 cups of flour, and add more later if the dough seems too wet.)
3. While slowly stirring the flour mixture with a wooden spoon, add olive oil and yeast mixture. Stir until it begins to come together, or just go straight to using your hands to combine it all together into a dough. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead dough (adding flour as necessary) until it is smooth, still tacky but not sticky, about 5 minutes.
4. Grease a medium-sized or large bowl with olive oil or nonstick cooking spray. Place the kneaded dough into the bowl, turning the dough so that it is all covered in oil, or spraying the top with cooking spray. Cover the bowl with a towel, and let rise for 1 hour, until doubled in size.
5. Punch the dough down, cover the dough again, and let rise for 30 more minutes.
6. Cut the dough in half, using each half to make 1 medium sized pizza.
*Usually I find that the hot water from my kitchen tap is just perfect.
Making the pizza (some tips):
– after you roll the dough out to your desired thickness, sprinkle some cornmeal on the baking pan before you spread the dough out on it
– spread a little olive oil over the crust before you top it
– after you build your pizza, brush some melted butter onto the edges of the crust
– bake your pizza at a very high heat, 475 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, for about 10-15 minutes, until it is the crispness that you want.