How to make the dough, pizza dough that is.
Like most kids, ours ask for pizza at least once a week. Most people stick to delivery and when they are feeling frisky may go to the local grocery and snag a pre-made dough ball and go from there. Pizza definitely brings our family together, I want to share the ease at making a killer home-made pizza dough, one you can feel proud of. Although the recipe is pretty simple, there is a method to the madness, after all it is a science. The fun thing about pizza dough is that once you have mastered your first batch of dough you can start tweaking out the recipe, for example for a sweeter dough use honey instead of sugar. In this recipe I did a 75% organic all purpose flour to 25% organic whole wheat stone ground flour. If you use more than that ratio of whole wheat with this recipe your dough will be dense and will not rise properly. I personally like the elasticity of the all purpose, I like to play with my food. If you take away anything from this post prep before! It is imperative that you pre-measure, so you can just add to the bowl and mix. Once you are set up, you can start the process.
The $ Dough:
1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water (preferably purified)
2 1/4 teaspoons of active yeast equivalent to a 1/4 oz packet
3 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of sugar of your preference
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 cup of olive oilXLLS
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
2-4 table spoons of minced garlic depending on preference
*Depending on skill set, not all of these are necessary*
Kitchen aid/mixing bowl
1. Measure your ingredients, and preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
2. Pour the 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water into a bowl followed by the 1/4 oz yeast. Stir the watery yeast until it starts to bubble, this start the activation process of the yeast which allows for a faster rise process.
3. Once the yeast is nice and smelly (5 minutes or so), you want to hit the trifecta (salt, sugar, and oil) in no particular order and stir the combination, I call it "dough water".
4. The moment of truth of making the dough is adding the flour. I find it easiest if you to tilt the machine head up to allow an easy pour. You want all the flour to make it in the bowl.
5. It will look rough at first using either an electric mixer or by hand. Do not get discouraged if your dough comes out either too tough or too doughy, believe it or not humidity can play a factor in the quality of your dough. To fix the "loose" or sticky dough just add a little more flour by the table spoon or you can take it out of the bowl and place it on a well floured surface and began kneading the extra flour in by hand until a smooth consistency. If your dough is too tough you can add water by the tablespoon as well. Just keep in mind that the yeast has been activated and the rise process has started even though you are still in the dough making process.
6. Once you have reached the consistency of this photo, you will put it in a well oiled bowl big enough to let it proof to about twice the size that it is now and cover completely with a warm damp towel 1-2 hrs depending on the temperature of your work area. Giving your dough adequate time to proof really opens the dough up and allows a perfectly cooked pizza. If you do not allow your dough to properly rise, your pizza will be dense, thin, cracker like, and nobody will be coming back for your pizza night (whomp whomp).
7. After your dough has risen to the right amount, you want to flour up your hands, turn the dough bowl into your hands upside down. Move the ball to a floured surface.
8. We personally love garlic knots, so I purposely cut the dough into thirds and take a third of the dough and set it aside and combine the other 2/3's and form a nice dough ball again and repeat the proofing process for about 20 to 30 minutes. If you do not want to make garlic knots, you will still need to divide your dough into halves. Skip to step 9, if missing out on the knots.
9. While your dough is in the process of being workable, take the remaining 1/3 and flatten it out on a floured surface. Cut it into 2 inch squares with a pizza cutter. Then take each 2 inch squares and make a play doh snake until you can form a knot with the dough. Don't stress if you can't make a perfect knot. It took me a while to master! Once all of the knots are made the proofing stage begins. Brush the tops of the knots with oil or butter, not cover, lightly brush. Let the knots sit in a warmer part of the house. It may sound crazy but a garage is a great proofing room for a fast rise.
10. There are two ways to tango in creating your pizza's base and crust. The beginner route via rolling pin is a no fail method, then you have of course the "hand tossed", personal favorite. The kids really love the texture of the pizza dough. You can either make your pizza on a floured sheet pan to go with pan dish style, and if you have a pizza stone, which I highly recommend, you can make the pizza on a big piece of parchment paper. Or if you are advanced in the pizza department, you can make the pizza on a floured pizza peel. Even though I am a pizza enthusiast, I still do not own a peel (hint* hint*)! I make my own by recycling old boxes that are at least 12 inches in diameter that resembles a pizza peel.
11. From here the possibilities are endless, so get creative! Once your pizza is prepped and ready for the oven, transfer your pizza to the oven. If using a stone, transfer your pizza with parchment paper to the stone. Or again if advanced via pizza peel. If adding garlic knots to your dinner, throw them in the oven at the same time. The knots only take 5-6 minutes to cook on the bottom rack. For your pizza allow about 10 to 15 minutes of cooking time the at 500 degrees or your ovens highest temp.
12. While your pizza is cooling (or still cooking for that matter), toss your garlic knots in your "garlic love" the oil, garlic, and parmesan mixture.
13. Pull out your pizza, let the pie cool for about 5 minutes before cutting, and enjoy!