Homemade Pizza Dough

by Manasi

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Pizza is a quintessential weeknight meal, right? I mean, between the ease of ordering and the cheesy, salty comfort it provides after a long day, what’s not to like? As of late, I’ve become a bigger fan of making my own pizza. I know this may seem to defeat the purpose of simply being able to pick up the phone and having pizza arrive at your door, but after moving to Worcester, we never found a reliable pizza place. I initially started making my own pizza using the pre-made Trader Joe’s pizza dough. While this works fine, I eventually stumbled upon this recipe, which has changed our homemade pizza lives!

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There are a couple of things that can help you make better pizza at home in addition to a good dough recipe. First, invest in a baking stone. Right now I have a traditional stone, but at some point, I really want to get this. You can definitely fine some more affordable options if you want to try it out {though sometimes the smaller ones break}. Once you have a stone, you want to put it in your oven and then set the temperature around 500°F and let the stone heat up for about 30 minutes. The final step is being able to transfer your pizza to the stone without all the toppings going everywhere. I have a pizza peel, which makes it a lot easier, but you could use an upside down baking sheet as well. I also use parchment paper under my pizza instead of cornmeal because I find it works a lot better and is way less messy!

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Now the good stuff: the pizza dough itself. I like this recipe because it’s very straightforward, doesn’t have an excessively long rise time, which means you could even get it on the table for a weeknight dinner, and the best part–it makes TWO pies! I always make one right away and then freeze the other half for later. That makes for a super fast dinner as you just need to put the dough in the fridge the night before or leave it on the counter at room temp for a couple of hours! Love it! All you need is some toppings and you’re good to go. {a confession: I’ve used pasta sauce when I’m really desperate–works fine!}

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Homemade Pizza Dough

slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats via Baking Illustrated

½ cup warm water
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
4 cups (22 oz.) all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
4 tbsp. Vital Wheat Gluten (I use Bob’s Red Mill brand–see note)
1½ tsp. salt
1¼ cup water, at room temperature
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Note: The original recipe called for bread flour, which I usually never have on hand. I got this tip from Smitten Kitchen to add Vital Wheat Gluten to regular all-purpose flour to essentially create bread flour. Genius! It stays forever in the freezer and now I’m keeping track of multiple flours. I also think the recipe comes out better with this combo as compared to regular bread flour. If you have bread flour, just use 4 cups of that instead of the all-purpose plus the vital wheat gluten.

Measure the warm water out into a 2-cup glass measuring cup and then sprinkle the yeast over the top.

Measure out the flour, vital wheat gluten {if using} and salt in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Stir briefly with the paddle attachment to combine. Add the room temperature water and olive oil to the yeast and warm water mixture. Start the electric mixer on low. Add the yeast/water/oil mixture slowly to the flour and salt while the machine is running. Once you have a cohesive dough form, switch to a dough hook. Knead on low speed for about five minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Transfer to a bowl that has been lightly oiled and let rise until doubled {about 1 1/2 hours}.

Once the dough has doubled, punch it down to deflate. Dump it out onto a lightly flour surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. If freezing one, double wrap in plastic wrap and put in the freezer now. Cover with a damp cloth and let it relax for 10 minutes before shaping.

If baking now, preheat your oven to 500°F.

To shape the dough, I usually pick it up and kind of stretch it out initially and then let the weight of the dough kind of stretch it out more. You can also use a rolling pin to make it into a rough circle, rectangle…whatever shape tickles your fancy. When you’re done shaping it, place on top of a piece of pizza on top of your pizza peel or baking sheet if using a stone. You can also get a pizza pan and shape it right in there.

Once you’ve shaped out your pizza dough, it’s time to get creative–add your sauce and toppings.

Bake in your preheated oven until the crust is puffy and golden and the cheese is bubbly, about 8-12 minutes.

One Comment to “Homemade Pizza Dough”

  1. im always looking for homemade pizza dough recipes as its a weekly affair here as well. i will have to try this recipe next.

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