If you have never made a yeast dough from scratch, pizza dough is a great start. It is easy to knead, elastic and just plain fun to work with. I love to see the magical transformation of a shaggy glob into risen dough. It’s culinary magic.
Once you have your ingredients assembled, you can have your dough rising in about 10 minutes. You will be rewarded with a crispy crust and endless possibilities for toppings. Pizza is a great way to use leftovers that hardly amount to a serving but you hate to waste. Mushrooms, baby arugula, roasted vegetables, left over cooked meat – the possibilities are almost endless. Its so much better than the droopy slices you get most places.
The dough consists of just a few simple ingredients. Flour, water, yeast, salt, olive oil and honey. Add some dried thyme, rosemary or Italian herb mix to make it really yummy.
Basic Pizza Dough for One 13 inch Pizza
1 1/2 Cups Bread Flour (I swear by King Arthur Flour)
1 heaping tsp or 1/2 a package active dry yeast
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp honey
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 Cup lukewarm water
Place flour in a medium mixing bowl. Add yeast to one side of the bowl and salt on the other (I make a little hollow for each). Add honey and olive oil to the middle. That’s right, no proofing, just dump it all in the bowl.
Add water all at once. Use your hand with slightly open fingers to mix dough. Keep combining using the main dough ball to scrape remaining flour from the sides of the bowl. Add a little more water if needed in small amounts. Because it is so dry here in New Mexico I usually end up adding about a Tablespoon more. It is better to err on the side of a wetter dough than a dry one. Once the dough forms a cohesive ball, tip it onto a board or counter and knead for about 4 to 6 minutes. Use a bit of olive oil on your hands to keep the dough from sticking rather than dusting with flour.
To knead stretch the dough up and fold it over itself and them push it down. Now give it a quarter turn. I like to use my big wooden cutting board for kneading.
Once the dough has become silky, smooth and elastic, add a little oil to the bottom and sides of your bowl. Place your dough back in the bowl. Turn it over a couple of times so it is lightly coated with the oil.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm draft free space. Allow the dough to double in size. This should take about an hour or two. When the dough is ready it will stretch as it is lightly pulled.
At this stage you can punch down the dough (press all the air out and then reform the dough into a ball). Place the dough in a air tight baggie and refrigerate for several hours or even overnight. Otherwise you are ready to make Pizza!
Tip the dough out onto a lightly oiled board and flatten it our with your hands. Pick it up and stretch it a bit on the sides. You will be amazed at how easy this dough is to work with. Place dough on pizza pan or cookie sheet. Use your fingers or knuckles to press it out to the full edge.
Now add your sauce. I use plain old canned tomato sauce. Jarred or homemade pesto is really good as well. Don’t over sauce it though. Otherwise you will have a soggy bottom.
Once the sauce is spread sprinkle on spices if you like. Sometimes I use basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder and red pepper flakes. With this pizza I just used tomato sauce. Next, top it with whatever suits your fancy. For this pizza I used Italian blend cheese, olives, roasted garlic and left over browned ground beef. I highly recommend using fresh mozzarella if you have it (which I didn’t) and some good parmigiano.
Place the pizza on the lower rack of your oven and cook it hot. 400 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not use convection if it’s an option. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Look for a nice brown crust on the outside.
No soggy bottom! Just slide this beauty onto a cutting board and slice. Add a simple salad and dinner is served!
Homemade Pizza Dough
This will make enough for one 13 inch pizza.
- 1 1/2 cups bread flour (King Arthur is the best) 205 grams
- 1 heaping tsp active dry yeast 7 grams or 1/2 pkg
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt 4 grams
- 1/2 tsp honey 4 grams
- 1 1/2 tsp olive oil 8 ml
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water plus up to 2 tbsp more as needed 130 ml plus a bit more if needed
Place flour in medium size bowl. Use the same bowl to allow dough to rise. Add yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other. Add the honey and olive oil. Pour in 1/2 cup (130 ml) water all at once.
Use your hand with slightly open fingers to combine the ingredients. As the dough ball forms use it to scrape the remaining flour off the sides. Add more water a little at time if needed. The dough will come together to form a shaggy ball.
Tip the dough onto a board or countertop and knead until it becomes silky, smooth and elastic. Use a little olive oil on you hands rather than adding flour to keep the dough from sticking. This should take 4 to 6 minutes.
Coat bowl with a small amount of olive oil, and place dough ball into the bowl. Turn the ball once to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and then a tea towel. Let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
The dough is now ready to use. If you like, punch it down and roll it into a ball. Place it in a zip lock bag and refrigerate for up to 24 hours to use for pizza the next day.
To cook, use a 13 inch round pizza pan. Use toppings of your choice and bake on the lower rack of your oven. Bake 15 to 20 minutes at 400° to 450° F or 205° to 230° C. Do not use convection if you have it.