I make a triple batch of this dough about once a month—it doesn’t take long and freezes well, so I always have pizza dough ready to go. If I triple the recipe, I can make four slightly-smaller pizzas, which are the perfect size for two hungry people to split. Warning: it will make you stop buying those pre-made pizza crusts at the grocery. Forever. You can top pizzas with anything– your standard cheese and pepperoni, or pesto and fresh tomatoes, or even wrap up leftover veggies with some cheese into a giant calzone.
A couple of notes—this recipe is for a stand mixer, and I realize that not everyone has one. If you’re working by hand, mix the ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Once the dough is coming together, dump it out on a lightly-floured surface and knead for a few minutes, until it’s smooth.
I always proof my yeast, even though not everyone bothers. “Proofing” ensures that your yeast is alive and, well, yeasty. Why go to the trouble? Yeast can get old, or water that is too hot can kill the yeast, so this is a good step to follow to make sure everything will rise appropriately. HOW TO PROOF: Warm water in microwave for 30-60 seconds; it should be warm to the touch but not scalding. Dissolve the yeast and a couple pinches of sugar and wait five minutes. The mixture should be foamy, like beer with a head on it– see the picture in the post. Onward!
Everyday Pizza Dough
Makes 1 14inch pizza
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
Pinch or two of sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 1/2-3 1/2 cups all-purpose, whole wheat, or a mixture of white and wheat flour
Proof the yeast in warm water until foamy. Meanwhile, add salt, olive oil, and 2 1/2 cup flour to a mixing bowl with the dough hook attachment. Dump in the yeast/water AND mix 1 minute on a low-to-medium speed. Add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and continue to mix until dough clings to dough hook and cleans sides of bowl. Knead at this level for 2 minutes. Keep in mind that the amount of flour you use will vary based on issues like humidity, so learn to wing it. When it’s done, you should be able to pick the dough up rather easily—it should not be too sticky or liquidy. (If it is, you need more flour.)
With olive oil, grease a large bowl. Place the dough into it, turning the dough to grease top. Cover, and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 hour). I usually use my mixing bowl to reduce dish-washing.
When the dough is all poofy, you get to the best part: punch the dough down and remove it from the bowl. (If freezing or refrigerating, this is the part of the recipe where you can skip down to the *.) With floured hands, flatten out the dough into a floured pizza pan, cookie sheet, whatever you have lying around. If the dough shrinks back too much, let it sit for about 10 minutes. Shape the dough with a collar around the edges.
Top with desired toppings and bake in a preheated oven at 450°F for 15 to 20 minutes. Cooking times vary based on how thick the dough is and how chewy you like it, so keep an eye on it after 10 minutes or so.
*If freezing, wrap the floured dough in greased plastic wrap (sprayed with cooking spray). You will be able to fit three or four crusts in a large freezer bag. Crusts keep for about a month; thaw them out for 4 hours on the countertop or 6-8 hours in the refrigerator, and resume the steps as written.
*If refrigerating, you can keep the dough in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a day or two. Keep in mind that the yeast will still be working a little, which will require another punching-down. It may blow your Tupperware lid off, so consider putting a plate under it.