Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pizza Dough

I've updated this recipe, check out the new version here.

1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
3 cups flour
1/2 tbl honey
1 tsp salt
2 tbls olive oil
1 cup warm water

Mix honey and water together, then add yeast. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Add the salt and oil and give it a quick stir. Add 1 cup of flour and mix it well. Add the rest of the flour. Mix it as much as your can with a spoon then use your hands. If it is too wet add flour by the tbl until it is dry enough to knead, if it is too dry add water by the tbl until its right. Turn it out onto a well floured surface and knead it for a few minutes. Form it into a ball and put it into a large, oiled container, cover it with a clean cloth and let it rise till it's doubled in volume. Punch it down and let it rise till doubled again. Punch it down again and turn it onto a well floured surface. Roll it out and use it for whatever you wanted to use pizza dough for.

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Ok, this won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me, but for those of you who don't: I love bread. Oh yes, I do. I could never do Atkins nor am I ever again going to be slim like I was when I was sixteen, because I just love my carbs way too much. Particularly breads. French bread, Italian bread, garlic bread, cheesy bread, sweet, savory, wheat, white, focaccia, all of it. Well... almost all. I'm not really into rye or really sour sour dough, although both do have their place. But other than that, yeah. Gimmie. And there is just something about pizza dough, the chewy, crispy, browned and soft deliciousness just gets me every time. Now usually I buy a premade dough which is pretty good and doesn't require kneading (although I do enjoy kneading) or rising (waiting, I can do without) and freezes really well. But the store I go to has either moved it or stopped carrying it or something and it hasn't been around. So I am making my own.

Now, I don't have a stand mixer, this is all done by hand. If you have a stand mixer and want to use it I can't really help you, although if my brother comments he might be able to give some tips. Also this recipe isn't going to tell you what to do with it, other than some vague ideas. I am going to be making calzones for dinner tonight and that will be a post of it's own. So, this is my recipe for pizza dough. Well, it's really more of an all-purpose dough, you can use it for other things than pizza. It would make a fine roll or probably even a loaf of bread. Tomorrow I'm going to make focaccia with it. But anyway, here it is.

Start off with some warm water in a big bowl. You don't want it too hot or it will kill the yeast or too cold because then the yeast won't grow. So, warm. 85 to 115° is the consensus of the recipes I looked through. I didn't measure it, I just stuck my finger in and thought "Would I put an infant in here? Sure." and was on my way. Now put in the honey and mix it in. The sugar helps the yeast do it's thing. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit for 10 minutes or so, you want it to look foamy. Now add the oil and salt and give them a quick stir. Now add one cup of flour. If you wanted to you could add some dried spices at this point. Oregano is always nice, basil or thyme are good. A little garlic powder punches up the flavor of a dough. We are going to stick with the basics though. Mix it up really well with a spoon. Once it's well mixed, add the rest of the flour. Now you can mix it up more with a spoon, but eventually you are going to need to just get in there with your hands. If the dough is too dry add warm water, a tablespoon at a time, till it is firm but tacky. If it is too wet, like this is, do the same thing with flour. I wound up adding a lot of flour. I didn't measure it though because my hands were covered in goo. This is one of those things where you just kind of need to practice and learn what it should be like. Firm but tacky is all I can think of to describe it. Turn it out onto a clean, well floured surface. Now my favorite part, kneading. Take the heel of your hand, smoosh it into the dough and push it away from you. Fold the dough in half and repeat. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat. This is why you don't act up around Italian grandmothers, you don't want them smacking you with their dough kneading arms. Do this for a couple minutes adding more flour to the counter as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands and the work surface. The amount of kneading time in the recipes I have read varies from one minute to half an hour. In my experience it is better to knead it longer, I usually do it for about five minutes, or until I am wicked tired. Form the dough into a ball and oil it lightly. Put it in a large mixing bowl (also oiled) or something like one. I'm using my large sauce pan. Now cover it with a clean towel and put it somewhere warm and dry. An unlit oven is good or just the counter if it's warm in your house. Let it rise till it's doubled in size (hey, that rhymes!). This should take about 30-45 minutes. Once it has doubled, punch it down. Just give it a couple good smacks. Now recover it and let it double again, it will take maybe twice as long. Punching it down redistributes the food for the yeast and lets it keep doing its thing for longer, making the dough more flavorful. Now once it's doubled, you can punch it down and then let it rise again, but you don't have to. It is done. Well, you still want to punch it down, even if you aren't letting it rise again. Now if you are using it right away, turn it onto a floured surface and go nuts, do whatever you want. Roll it out, top it with some tomato sauce, cheese and goodies and you have pizza. Fold the circle of dough around some goodies for a calzone, deep fry chunks of it for fried dough, bake little balls of it brushed with butter for rolls, wrap strips around cooked sausage for pigs in a blanket. All kinds of things you can do with it. Or you can keep it in the fridge for a day or so or freeze it and use it in the far future. If you refrigerate/freeze it make sure to bring it to room temperature before working it or else it will just rip instead of stretch.

2 comments:

Kim - Easy French Food said...

Cats and bread, what more do you want in a blog? You give good step by step instructions on the bread and you're just like my son, who is happiest gnawing on a piece of baguette. If you want to try out a savory quick bread from France, check out my link. A bientôt.

Bob said...

Thanks Kim! :) I do love a good baguette, although according to my father (who spent some years in France) and my girlfriend (who has spent some time in Paris, where her mother was born) the stuff we get around here isn't worthy of the name. Heh.

That bread looks good, I will have to try it out. I'm not really a big olive fan (although my brother would probably love it), do you have any suggestions for substitutes?

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