“Make your own pizza” nights have become a favorite of my boys, although G. chooses to make calzones from the same ingredients as the pizza. I used to buy pre-made whole wheat dough at my supermarket (they kept it in the refrigerated section near the shredded cheese), but although it was serviceable it bounced back a lot. It was hard to stretch it out to the thinness we wanted, so the crust was always relatively thick and turned out chewy at best, and underdone at worst.
Since getting a stand mixer, I’ve tried making my own pizza dough a few times, though I’ve been working on a white flour version from the book that came with my mixer. Last night I got it perfect. We were able to make very thin crust pizza that actually crackled when I cut into it with a chef’s knife. Both boys agreed that this was the best dough we’d ever made, and that it did not need any more tweaks. See how thin that pizza is? It had a great crunch when we bit into it, too.
Because I am new to working with yeast, I use an instant-read thermometer to double-check the temperature of the water I’m using before I add the yeast. Turns out, “warm” water is actually much hotter than I would expect.
Also, my kitchen is the coldest room in my house, even though it’s not drafty. In my parent’s home, we’d let dough rise in the small utility room that held the water heater — it was clean, draft-free, and toasty. I don’t have an area like that, so instead I preheat my oven to 180° F, then turn it off. This creates an insulted, warm space for my dough to rise, but without being hot enough to start cooking it.
Next up: figuring out a whole wheat crust we all love.
Pizza & Calzone Dough
Adapted from Crusty Pizza Dough, in the KitchenAid Stand Mixer manual
Note: This recipe includes 2 hours of rising time.
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. olive oil (+ a little extra)
3 c. bread flour, divided (+ a little extra)
Add yeast to the bowl of your stand mixer, and then pour warm water over it. And salt, oil, and 2 cups of the flour. Using your dough hook, mix on Speed 2 for about a minute.
While continuing to mix, add in the remaining cup of flour, a bit at a time, until the flour is incorporated and the dough starts to pull off the side of the bowl. Knead on the same speed for 2 more minutes. Your dough should feel smooth, and not sticky at all.
Lightly coat a bowl with olive oil, and place dough in the bowl, then flip it over so it has a thin layer of oil on top.
Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel. Let it rise in a warm spot for 1 hour until it doubles in size. If you press a finger into the dough, the indentation should stay there. Punch the dough down, and let it rise, covered for another hour. Punch it down a final time.
Dough can be rolled with a pin or stretched to make pizza or calzones. Bake at 400° F for about 20 minutes, or until done.