Friday, April 13, 2012

Pizza Dough

For as much as I like to cook, I've discovered that I'm not naturally inclined in the baking department.  I believe there are two cooking tribes - those who creatively like to play it fast and loose with the measurements and change it up each time and the perfectionists who revel in the exact science of weighing, measuring and creating pure magic in the oven.  The later are not my people.  I don't sift things, I don't own a kitchen scale and therefore, I've not been the most successful or ambitious baker known to mankind.  But, I've found success with homemade pizza dough using this fairly simple method.   In fact, I got so excited, I went out and purchased a pizza stone, pizza peel and built an outdoor pizza oven last night.  Just kidding on the last one.  If using traditional toppings then you must make homemade pizza sauce to pay homage to the homemade crust! 

Pizza Dough

½ cup warm water
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1½ tsp. salt
1¼ cup water, at room temperature
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle the yeast over the top. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend. Measure the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture as well as the olive oil. Mix until a cohesive dough is formed. Switch to the dough hook. Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Add a bit more flour if dough seems very wet and sticky after mixing for 5 minutes.  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1½-2 hours in a warm place.

Press down the dough to deflate it. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball. (If freezing the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at this point.) Cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.

To bake, preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500˚ F for at least 30 minutes. Transfer the dough to your shaping surface, lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Shape the dough with lightly floured hands. Brush the outer edge lightly with olive oil. Get jiggy with whatever toppings float your boat! Bake until the crust is golden brown, and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes.

Makes 2 medium-sized pizzas or 4 calzones

Recipe from Annies Eats

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