Pizza Dough 101

Yum ~ who doesn’t like a good pizza crust? I’m not sure that I have ever met anyone that doesn’t like pizza, however, I can assure you that people definitely have widely varied preferences when it comes to the crust. I mean the whole crust not just the edges, which is what I always referred to as the crust & my kids refer to as the crust… as in they save the “crust” for last. People, even children, savor pizza crust. It’s a fact of life!

During my growing up years, I recall my dad making his own pizza crust… from his friend, the chef – perhaps you’ve heard of him; Chef Boy ‘r Dee. Now before you laugh, or turn up your nose, my dad could do amazing things with this boxed crust mix; amazing, that is, for a boxed crust mix. He had very specific methodical ways of mixing, stretching, forming, pre-baking, topping & then baking the crust again. Years later he developed his own pizza dough recipe, which he loves – but it does not yield quite the right crust for me.

I’ve been on a quest for the perfect crust for me. So once again, I stepped into my test kitchen and got to work. I wasn’t sure how this recipe would turn out, so I didn’t take any photos while I was making it, however, I am very happy to report that I have found a crust that I will definitely make again because… it was yummy, it was easy, and I can store it in my freezer. The part about the freezer is one of the most amazing things about this dough. YES ~ a dough from the freezer that bakes into a puffy full of air, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside… oh the crust, it was SO delicious that we devoured it before I could take a photo. It was as if my children “ate as fast as they could so they could race to get another piece before it was gone” – good! Oh, and I should mention we ate the pizza an hour after it came out of the oven. I’m looking forward to making it again & eating it while it’s HOT, I bet it tastes even better fresh out of the oven.

So this is for every meal-planning, freezer-stocking & pizza crust-loving person who reads this blog, so, uh 5 of you?? Well, consider yourself the lucky 5 – because you will be thanking me and you should probably thank Annie of Annies’ Eats because I found this recipe on her blog and she even has a pizza crust tips/tricks tutorial to go along with it. And now the moment you’ve been waiting for –

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Pizza Dough (makes 2 crusts) – Serves approximately 3/4 people per pizza. Depends on how thick/thin you make the crust & what you top it with.

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2¼ tsp. instant yeast
  • 22 oz. bread flour/roughly 4 cups plus more for dusting (or 11 oz whole wheat & 11 oz bread flour for a Moderately Healthy Pizza Crust)
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • 1¼ cup water, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • *Corn Meal for under the crust to prevent sticking

Add the warm water to a small bowl (a 2-cup measuring cup works well). Sprinkle the yeast over the top.  note: It’s instant yeast, so this step can most likely be eliminated, but this is how I made it, so I’ll omit this step next time to see what happens.

Mix together the flour and salt, either by hand or with a stand-mixer using the “paddle”. Pour the 1 1/4 cup room temperature water into the bowl/measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture.  Then, with the mixer on low, add the yeast/water mixture and the olive oil into the flour/salt mixture. Continue mixing until a cohesive dough is formed.  Then, switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes).  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1-2 hours. Tip: Put into the oven to rise, leaving the oven light on & the oven off.

Invert the dough onto a lightly floured work surface; deflate gently with your fingers.

If you are making pizza immediately, then start pre-heating the oven w/pizza stone to to 500 degrees. Then, divide the dough into two equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball. Just tuck the sides under & pinch.

It's alive 🙂

You have two options from this point: If freezing the dough, wrap in plastic wrap, put wrapped dough ball(s) into a freezer bag and freeze at this point. Double wrapping is important because the dough will continue to rise in the freezer & may “pop” out of the first layer of plastic wrap

*(see below for thawing directions)

For immediate consumption, cover with a damp cloth, allow the dough to rest for at least 10 but no longer than 30 minutes.

Transfer the dough to your shaping surface (pizza peel, parchment etc…) lightly sprinkled with cornmeal.  Shape the dough. Brush the outer edge lightly with olive oil, add sauce & toppings, and bake until the crust is golden brown, and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes.

*To use the frozen dough: If making pizza for lunch or dinner, transfer the dough to the refrigerator the night before so that it will thaw in time. (If you forget, you can take it out in the morning for dinner that night.) When you are ready to eat, remove from the refrigerator and allow to reach room temperature while you pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees for 30 minutes. Then proceed from the immediate consumption step underlined above.

In need of a pizza sauce recipe? Why not make your own (Homemade) Pantry Pizza Sauce. (It’s good enough as is, but to make it more like pizza sauce try adding oregano or basil.)

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Source: Slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats originally from Baking Illustrated

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