UP-FRONT APOLOGY: I hate long food posts. I just want to get to the recipe, man! This is a long post and I have to apologize for that because, like I said, I hate them! Pizza dough is really not that hard, but as I wrote this, I realized it took me a long time to get my process right. That means a lot more words, and more time wasted before getting to the recipe, which also has a lot of words. So, again, apologies for the ridiculous post-length, but I feel like it’s worth it. If you decide to continue making pizza on a regular basis, this stuff will become REALLY easy and you’ll know what I mean. And now, back to the post…
So, normally I wouldn’t post about something like pizza dough, because it’s something we make all the time. So far, most of my posts have been of food I don’t make often or was a first-time try. However, I think we perfected the recipe to a point where it’s ready to share with you there in the interwebs.
The first bunch of times we made pizza dough, it was a same-day affair. That got really old really fast because I was hangry and wanted to eat right away. Waiting an hour for dough to rise is painful when your stomach tries to eat you from the inside.
To counter my pathetic gastro-emotionalness, we decided to make multiple doughs at once, refrigerating them to use later. I basically double my favorite “thick” pizza dough recipe and divide it into four chunks. You can just make two, but we found that halving the thick pizza dough recipe yields the perfect amount of pizza for two people.
There are three very important things about making (this) pizza dough that make it so much better than the original recipe:
- Use milk instead of water. Milk is often used for other bread recipes, so we tried it in pizza dough. It. Was. AMAZING. We haven’t gone back. It adds a lot to the flavor.
- Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 3 days before using it. It ferments a bit and makes the dough a lot tastier.
- Probably the most important: Let the dough come to room temperature before working with it. This made stretching the dough sooooo much easier.
- 2 2/3 cups warm milk
- 4 tsp active dry yeast
- 6 cups bread flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil (more is never a bad idea!)
Ingredients (Basic Pizza Non-Sauce and Toppings):
Normally we just use a store-bought pizza sauce or pasta sauce, but lately, I’ve been just using veggies and spices. Apparently, just chopping up tomatoes and adding some herbs/spices makes it taste pretty much the same, without all the chemical preservatives in there. I’m not really a “health” nut, but I do like doing things fresh from scratch. If that means I might be making something healthier than usual, I’m down with the unintentionally positive side effects.
- Grape or cherry tomatoes
- Oregano leaves
- Basil leaves
- Cracked pepper
- Mozzarella cheese
- Toppings of choice (I like to use sauted veggies)
Directions (Making the Dough):
- Combine the yeast with the milk and let sit for about 10 minutes or until foamy.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
- Add dry ingredients to yeast mixture and stir until combined (a mixer is seriously useful here).
- Add more flour as necessary until the dough is elastic and not very sticky.
- Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead a bit more by hand, adding flour as necessary.
- (optional, mostly because I forget to do this all the time): Slam the balled-up dough on the counter/tabletop a few times; this apparently gets the gluten working faster.
- Place dough in a large oiled bowl, cover w/a towel, and let sit for at least 1 hour, or until doubled.
- Divide the dough into 2 or 4 pieces, depending on how thick you want your crust to be.
- From here you can either refrigerate all the pieces, or keep one out for immediate use and refrigerate the remaining pieces.
- To refrigerate, lightly coat each ball of dough with flour, place in a gallon ziploc bag, and toss in the fridge. Make sure to get most of the air out; as the dough rises in the refrigerator, it releases gas that expands the bag.
- You can store the dough for up to 2 weeks. I’ve read other places that you can’t do this, but I haven’t ever had a problem. I believe you can also freeze the dough, but it won’t rise anymore or ferment if you do this, so the flavor won’t be as nice.
Directions (Shaping the Dough):
- When you’re ready to make pizza, make sure to take the dough out well in advance so that it comes to room temperature. I usually take it out in the morning before work so it’s definitely ready by dinnertime.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F with the pizza stone inside. If you are using a pan, it probably only needs to preheat for a few minutes – that can be put in while you’re adding your toppings.
- If using thawed dough from the refrigerator, it should be a flattened disk. With floured hands, take it gently out of the bag.
- If using dough you just made, with floured hands, try to shape it into a fat disk without working it too much.
- Lightly flour the dough and place it on top of your fist. Gravity will start to pull the sides down, giving you a larger disk to work with.
- When you get bored with this, I find the best way is to hold the edge of the circle and, working quickly, work my way around the crust. As you inch your way around, the weight of the dough will pull it down, creating a nice large circle. The bigger it gets, the faster it “grows”, so you may need to be creative with how you hold it. I have not been able to document this process yet, and I know it reads very ackwardly, so the next time we make pizza dough, I’ll make sure to get some pictures.
- On a cornmealed transfer paddle, or pan if you don’t have a pizza stone, lay out the dough and throw on those toppings!
- (Optional): Drizzle olive oil on the pizza crust and spread out with a pastry brush (or your fingers). This will help hold in moisture in the crust making it less dry.
Directions (Basic Pizza Non-Sauce and Toppings):
- Dice tomatoes and spread on prepared pizza dough. The entire surface does not need to be packed with them; maybe try a density of 2 – 3 per square inch (1 per square centimeter).
- Sprinkle on oregano and basil as desired. Fresh or dried both work. If using fresh, rip them in small pieces.
- Sprinkle on crushed red pepper if desired. I desire it way much.
- Sprinkle on cracked pepper as desired.
- Grate cheese onto tomato mixture. I don’t like to over do the cheese, such that the tomatoes should be showing through.
- Top with delicious meaty or veggie (or other!) goodness! (If sauteing veggies, don’t forget to use some salt – I forgot to do this last time and the pizza seriously needed it).
Holy crap that was way too long; totally worth it. – 5 life; + 20 karma