It's pizza week here at the Dash and a Pinch test kitchen (aka: my mom's kitchen), and we're baking up some delicious pies that really impressed our qualified team of taste testers (aka: me, Ken, and my mom). The first step was to tackle some homemade pizza dough, which was daunting because we all know about my previous failure to get baked goods to rise.
But this was so easy and fun, and it was really satisfying to eat a pizza we had made entirely from scratch. So if I can do it, you really have no excuse to buy pre-made dough, especially when you have all the ingredients already at home.
You will need:
- one 1/4-ounce package of active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (105°-115°F)
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tsp olive oil, plus more for oiling the dough
Open the packet of yeast into a small bowl, and cover with the warm water. Let stand 5 minutes to activate, and then stir until it's dissolved.
In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt and form a well in the center. Pour the oil and yeast mixture into well, then gradually stir with a fork until a loose dough forms. (If the dough is too sticky, add a sprinkling of extra flour. Additionally, if it seems too stiff, add a little bit of water.)
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, until dough has no lumps. Form into a ball, rub with oil and return to the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise for about an hour at room temperature, until the dough doubles in size.
Now you transfer it back to the lightly floured surface and knead for 30 more seconds. At this point, you're ready to roll it out to make your pizza!
If you aren't making a pizza right away, store in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge for up to 24 hours, or freeze until ready to use.
Makes enough for one pizza.
From 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know by Cindi Leive
I will now turn things over to Ken, who is the pizza expert, for some helpful hints and techniques to make your pizza even better!
Homemade pizzas use to be a weekly occurrence in my household growing up, and it's one of the first meals my dad taught me how to make. Due to this fact, Sarah has proclaimed me the pizza expert, so here are my tips:
Rolling pins seem like the way to go, but it's much easier to roll out the dough by hand. Start by smushing the dough somewhat flat, just so it's not in a ball anymore. Pick it up and hold it sideways, rotating it like a wheel while pinching the edges. Depending on how loose your dough is, gravity should start pulling it out into a rounder, thinner shape. If the dough is still a little cold or stiff, you may want to gently bounce it as you do this to help with the process.
When it doesn't look like its getting any bigger doing this, give your counter a generous dusting of flour and put the dough in the middle. From the center outwards, use your hands to pull the dough out in opposite directions. Your hands shouldn't be sticking to the dough, they should be gliding outwards (add more flour if you're having trouble with this). After each pull, rotate the dough a couple of degrees so that you're keeping the dough round rather than elongated. Keep doing this until your dough is nice and thin. You can finish off with a rolling pin if you can't get it thin enough with just your hands. Your dough will rise in the oven, so roll it out a little thinner than you ultimately want.
My next tip is to go buy a pizza stone if you don't already have one. They are cheap enough ($30-40) and will make your pizza significantly better. Don't worry if it cracks on you, just shove the pieces together and it'll be fine (mine at home is in four pieces). Crank your oven up to 500° or higher and let it preheat for awhile before your put the pizza in. The hotter that stone gets, the crispier your crust will be.
If you don't have a pizza peel, find another smooth, flat surface to use (you can see above we used a baking sheet that didn't have edges). Before you put the dough on the peel, give it a dusting of corn meal. The corn meal acts like little rollers and will keep your dough from sticking when you put it in the oven. Gently fold the pizza dough in half and lay it out on the peel. Do not push down on the dough or you completely negate the purpose of using the corn meal. Sarah likes to do this. Now go ahead and lay out your sauce and toppings and you're good to go. A good indication that your pizza is ready to be taken out of the oven is when the cheese has turned golden around the edges of the pizza and is starting to turn golden in the center.
My final tip is to always use banana peppers. They are delicious and go with any type of pizza. I blew Sarah's mind with them and you can thank me later.