I love to make my own pizza dough. But often….Ok, who am I kidding? I am seriously the BEST last minute cook you’ve ever met! I have meal plans. I just never get around to printing them out and actually USING them. Usually I end up with not enough time to get the dough prepared in the bread maker, and have to skip the idea all together (or risk eating dinner past 7:00 – horrors! Believe me, it happens at LEAST once a week).
When I stumbled across this dough recipe (again from my friend Laura Lake) I was THRILLED to find out that it took only 20 minutes from the time you’re finished mixing to rising and then BAM! You’re set! Another bonus – you can make it easily with whole wheat (for the health nut in you) or white flour (for the kid in you) without changing the quantities of flour.
So without further adieu, I give you the recipe!
- 4 cups whole wheat or white flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
- 1 packet of yeast, or 3 teaspoons
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1-1/3 cups warm water
First prepare the dough. In a big bowl combine the flour, (*NOTE* I have NEVER used more than 3 1/2 cps of flour for this recipe, white or whole wheat. 4 cups is just WAY too dense.) sugar, yeast and salt.
Mix it up together with a fork or spoon.
Add the oil (I use olive oil) and warm water. The water should be lukewarm, not hot (yes, you too can kill the yeast if you use hot, hot water. So keep it on the cooler side, you know, about bath water temp). Stir with a big spoon to form a soft ball.
Knead the dough for 3 to 5 minutes – about 10 rounds of the Jeopardy theme song. I don’t think I’ve ever kneaded this for more than 2-3 minutes. Now set the dough aside to rest for 20 minutes. This relaxes the gluten so it will be easier to roll out.
Wait just one plug second. Why does the dough get to rest? I’m the one doing all the work here! When do I get to rest? Oh yeah, after I’ve cleaned up this mess…
I’ll spare you the picture of the other mess I also had to clean up while waiting for the dough to “rest”. I tell you, some days cloth diapering is just, well, interesting. Needless to say, I didn’t get my rest.
Now divide the dough into one or two balls. Each one will make a 16-inch round pizza or a 9 by 13-inch rectangular pan.
SQUIRREL! Sorry, the influence of the movie “Up” in my life is coming through here. That was my radar going off, reminding me to tell you something! In my experience, this dough only ever makes it to 1- 9×13 inch Pampered Chef baking stone. It’s a little on the thick side, but it NEVER, EVER fits into 2 pans. If you really want to, you can make a super thin crust pizza (which is my preference) and then another smaller round one or something (for the picky eater in your family who only ever wants cheese on theirs).
(**SIDE NOTE**If you are planning on doing “make your own pizzas” for a birthday party, this recipe will make 4 to 6 pie-plate sized pizzas. Just be prepared to be cleaning sauce off your floor for weeks, and don’t go fancy on the toppings, the kids probably won’t venture out past the pepperoni and cheese.)
Now where was I? Oh yeah. Press the dough into the pan(s). I use cornmeal on the bottom to keep it from sticking (it also adds a somewhat nutty type of flavour – very yummy!)
Now they are ready to be pre-bake. This is what saves your crust from being all mushy and gooey and your toppings fried! After the pre-baking process they can be refrigerated or frozen until needed.
If you are using a thin crust option, you probably do not need to pre-bake your crust – if you do, your toppings later on will only be slightly wilted and your crust…well, rather crispy. Instead, just load it up and pop ‘er in the oven to bake.
Preheat your oven to 400°. Bake the crusts for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until they puff up and appear slightly dry on the surface.
To freeze the crusts, first let them cool (or else you’ll melt your plastic wrap! Not to mention burn your fingers). Wrap them in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Smaller crusts can go into zip-lock bags. If you plan to refrigerate them for 2 or 3 days then plastic wrap alone will be sufficient.
I would recommend NOT leaving them underneath the toppled container of black olives, or you will have a rather unpleasant mess to clean up later. When you are ready to prepare your pizza remove the crusts and allow them to thaw if necessary. It won’t take very long.
Oh, by the way, here’s my kitchen helper. Isn’t she just too cute?
Top with sauce and the toppings of your choice. We like to go greek on our pizzas – chicken, tomatoes, feta. In this case I’m also adding green pepper, cheddar, mozzarella (my husband really doesn’t like it when I skimp on the cheese) and mushrooms. You read right. I said mushrooms. And yes, I make the kids eat them. You’ve gotta get your daily dose of fungus! ;0)
A little trick I learned from a friend of mine is to put the cheese down FIRST, on top of the sauce, then everything else on top of that. It seriously makes it taste WAY better, and apparently the “professionals” do it this way, so of course it must be right.
Are ya hungry yet?
Bake your pizza at 400º for about 10 to 15 minutes. Let it sit for a few minutes before you cut into it, or you’ll have toppings sliding all over the place.
And there you have it! Pizza Grande! Buon appetito!
By the way, I did manage to make another, smaller pizza in the toaster oven by taking a little of the dough off the main batch.
Here’s lunch honey!