Pizza Dough

Making dough is definitely in my top 3 favorite cooking tasks (the bottom 3 tasks include cutting raw meat, cutting up whole pineapples, and slicing watermelon).  The rising, punching, and kneading process is so very manual – a job where you really have to just dig in and get your hands dirty.  Some doughs are easier to work with than others and pizza dough is one of the easiest to work with and handle.  It’s easy, there are only 5 ingredients, and it always, always turns out great.

This dough is suitable for calzones, pizza baked in the oven, and, my favorite, grilled pizza.  It’s a relatively small recipe – it would comfortably feed a family of four, but usually for my crew of 6-8 I double it.  You really only need 2 hours start to finish, but if you happen to make it 4 hours ahead of time, that’s fine too (just add another raise).  If you make too much, it’s easy to freeze – just roll it into a ball, coat with a thin layer of olive oil, wrap in plastic wrap, and stick it in a ziploc bag.

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Pizza Dough

1 TBSP yeast

1 TBSP sugar

1.5 cups warm water

1/2 tsp salt

3.5 to 4.5 cups flour

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir the water, yeast and sugar together and let sit for about 10 minutes.  When the yeast is bubbly and foamy, stir in the salt and begin adding flour, 1 cup at a time, until combined.  I typically use about 4.5 cups, but depending on humidity you may need less or more.  Once the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, I add about a half cup more and then let the mixer knead the dough at medium speed for a few minutes, just to make sure all of the flour is incorporated.

2.  Manually form the dough into a ball – if you find it sticking to your hands excessively, consider adding a bit more flour.  Transfer the dough into a greased bowl, cover it, and move it into a warm spot to rise (in the wintertime I turn my oven to warm and then turn it off and allow my dough to proof in there).

3. After 45 minutes to an hour, when the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down, reform into a ball and allow to rise again.

4. 45 minutes to an hour after the second rise, when the dough has doubled to tripled again, punch it down and roll out to your desired size.  I find that this dough requires ample flouring to avoid sticking to your rolling pin and surface.  You could also freeze the dough at this point.

If you plan to grill your crusts, spray each side with olive oil and place the crust directly on the grill.  Once the first side is done, flip the crust and quickly arrange the sauce, cheese, and toppings to your liking.  Remember that grilled pizza is highly artisanal and traditional aesthetics do not apply.

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