Sunday, June 5, 2011

Basic Pizza Dough

I haven't had a pizza dough recipe I just loved for a long time. I've made Smitten Kitchen's Really Simple Pizza Dough several times, and while I'm always satisfied with the finished product, the 3/4 teaspoon of yeast her recipe calls for has never been enough for my pizza dough to rise the way I want.

I picked up some broccoli rabe at the farmers' market, and found this recipe for pizza with broccoli rabe. I needed a new pizza dough recipe fast, and The New Basics Cookbook didn't disappoint.

The dough came together easily (with the same ingredients as the Smitten Kitchen pizza dough mentioned above). It called for an entire packet of yeast, which resulted in a bread that was almost exploding out of the rising container after an hour. The dough was soft and pliable.

I think the men throwing pizza dough into the air at the pizzerias of my childhood gave me a false confidence. Since I had seen them shape so many pizzas, I assumed I could do it perfectly as well. However, several misshapen, uneven pies later, I realized I needed to read up about how to actually shape a pizza.

Again, The New Basics Cookbook was there. After I had separated the dough into two balls, I let it rise for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, I started with a ball of dough and shaped it into a 6 or 8 inch flat disk. Then, I flipped the disk over and laid it on a lightly floured surface. Using the palm of my hand, I worked in a circle clockwise, stretching the dough out to form a perfect circle. Once I had the circle my desired size, I pressed my fingers along the edge of the dough, creating a more pronounced crust.

Overall, I was delighted with this pizza dough recipe, and I'll return to it again and again. I'll definitely divide it into three even pieces next time since I prefer my pizza a little thinner.

Basic Pizza Dough
Recipe from The New Basics Cookbook

Dividing the dough into two balls will yield two 12-inch pizzas. Dividing the dough into four balls will yield four 6-inch pizzas, which should be personal pizza size. Dividing the dough into eight balls will yield eight 3-inch pizzas, which are the perfect size for appetizers.

This dough doubles and triples easily, and The New Basics Cookbook says it freezes well. Had I read that note ahead of time, I would have made more. This is my new go-to pizza dough recipe.

1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
2 1/2 to 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I used about 2 3/4 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the dough: Combine the water, yeast and 1 1/2 cups of the flour in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the oil, salt and remaining flour (start with 1 cup of the remaining flour, and add the last 1/2 cup gradually if you need it). With your hands or a large wooden spoon, work the ingredients together until the dough holds its shape.

Knead the dough: Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until its smooth and elastic, about five minutes. If the dough becomes sticky while you are kneading it, sprinkle a bit more flour over it.

Let the dough rise: Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled 2-quart mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, and let the dough rest until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Prepare for pizza: When the dough has risen, place it on a lightly floured surface. Divide it into two or more parts and roll them into balls. Cover them with a towel and let them rest for 15 to 20 minutes. The dough is now ready to be shaped, topped and cooked!


  1. I like how easy this seems!
    Your mom use to have a recipe for pizza crust that had rye flour in it. It made a nice crisp crust... have to ask her if she still has it!

  2. This pizza dough is incredibly easy! That rye pizza crust you mentioned sounds delicious. I'll have to ask her for the recipe soon!

  3. That recipe is in Chez Panisse Pasta Pizza and Calzone by Alice Waters. It has 1/4C rye flour in it. I think I got the cookbook from one of my favorite sisters. mom