Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Endless Possibility of a Pizza Dough

Would you believe that all commercial breads have some sort of corn ingredients in them? After a year of no bread in my diet, I decided that my 2011 New Year's resolution would be "to master the art of bread making".

I started with reading a lot of bread making cookbooks. The one that I found most useful was Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. If you are new to bread making, read this cookbook first. Their techniques and instructions are super easy to follow. No fuss. No intimidation.

Since then, I've tried baking bread from many bread recipes. For this pizza dough recipe, I adapted from Amy's Bread. Her techniques are very old school, which translates to authentic yumminess. Everything is made by hands. After I tried her techniques, I decided to take a few short cuts. No differences except less time consuming.

I usually make this pizza dough in the morning (around 9am). Then I leave it to rise at a room temperature until it is time for me to make the pizza (around 4pm). For best result, I use a kitchen scale to measure the wet and dry ingredients. Make a note of room temperature. Bread dough will rise faster in the summer than in the winter. Learn to make this pizza dough and the possibility of making something savory and something sweeter are endless. 

UPDATED (Dec12, 2015): I made some changes to this pizza dough recipe with easy short cuts.

Pizza Dough
adapted from Amy's Bread,
makes 3 (16 inch) round pizzas
1 1/4 cups (11 oz.) warm water (105° to 115°F)
1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (Red Star)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 3/4 cups (15 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
  1. In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over a cup of warm water. Stir until dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes, depending on a room temperature.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  3. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and be sure to scrap all the yeast out of the cup.
  4. Stir until a soft dough is formed.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a silicon baking mat and knead until smooth and elastic, about 2 to 4 minutes.
    Note: Here are two tips that will save your sanity. (1)
    Be careful not to add too much flour during kneading, or the dough will end up dry. (2) Use the silicon baking mat instead of your hands to knead the dough. This way your hands are free from sticky dough. (see picture above)
  6. Shape the dough into a ball.
  7. Add olive oil in the same large bowl.
  8. Place the dough in a bowl and coat it with olive oil.
  9. Cover the bowl with a towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours, depending on the room temperature.
  10. Punch down the dough and knead briefly to remove air bubbles.
  11. This pizza dough is ready for you to make pizza, focaccia, baguettes, french bread, or desserts.
To make a 16 inch round pizza
  1. Place a large baking sheet in the oven.
  2. Preheat the oven 400°F to 440°F. NOTE: The higher the oven temperature, the faster the pizza will bake. Keep in mind that some baking sheets can tolerant up to 440°F. If using baking stone, turn the oven temperature to 500°F. The pizza will bake on a pizza stone within 8 minutes.
  3. Line a parchment paper on a no rims baking sheet (or a pizza peeler).
  4. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts.
  5. Place one of the dough on the no rims baking sheet lined parchment paper.
  6. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 16 inch round shape.
    Note: Don't fuss with perfecting the roundness of the dough. As long as the dough is roll out to your liked thickness, the pizza will cook evenly and will taste great.
  7. Brush the dough with pizza sauce.
    : Too much sauce will make a soaky pizza. Use pastry brush to distribute sauce evenly on the dough.
  8. Add cheeses and toppings to your liking amount. 
  9. Drizzle the whole pizza with olive oil, especially around the edge. (optional)
  10. Once the oven is ready, wait for 5 minutes for the baking sheet that is in the oven to become really hot. Then slide the pizza dough onto the baking sheet that is in the oven.
  11. Bake until the crust is golden. Note: Use the following (electric) oven temperature and timer.
    or 400°F, bake the pizza for 15 to 20 minutes.... For 440°F, bake the pizza for 12 to 15 minutes.... For 500°F, bake the pizza for 8 minutes
  12. Remove the pizza from the oven and cut into slices. Enjoy them while they are hot.
    TIP: Use the cookie cutters to cut the pizza into fun shapes. Check out the pizza bones I made for Brek's lunchbox.
Suggestions for sauces and toppings:
Pizza toppings: cooked and crumbled sausages, cooked and sliced bacon, green or black olives, fresh basil, fresh sliced peppers, leftover cooked meat (chicken or fish), fresh asparagus (any size), manchego (sheep’s milk cheese), mozzarella (fresh mozzarella buffalo’s milk cheese or Organic Valley).

Allergy Info: This pizza dough is free from or can be made without dairy, eggs, corn, legumes (soy), nuts, and fish. Choose toppings based on your food allergy diet. Make sure to get strip of three packets Red Star Yeast, with only yeast as an ingredient listed.

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