I’ve only cooked with yeast a handful of times and, actually, have had a fair amount of success each time. Still, I shy away from yeasted bread recipes for some reason, and am always a bit worried they won’t turn out. That’s why I included a couple yeasted dough recipes on my 30 by 30 list – I am constantly telling myself I’ll make more bread and then I never, ever do.
I feel like a pizza dough is one of those recipes every home cook should have. I don’t make pizza very often, but when I do it’s with refrigerated dough, and it never turns out great. I buy it because it’s convenient and better than frozen pizza, but it’s definitely never been as good as delivery/restaurants and has always lacked the nice crusty but chewy texture a good pizza crust should have.
I’ve seen many, many people have success with this pizza dough from Baking Illustrated so I decided to give it a shot. Happily, I was not at all disappointed. The dough came together super quickly and I had no issues whatsoever. I ended up dividing it in two and freezing half of it. Half the dough made a good sized pizza, though you can divide it in 3 and make more medium-ish size pizzas. I decided to weigh my flour (which I don’t usually do) and am glad I did, because I’m sure it contributed to the perfect ratio. I used the stand mixer for mixing and kneading so I wouldn’t have to hand-knead but you can use a food processor and your hands if you prefer. I baked the pizza on a baking stone, because I always use one for pizzas and doughs. A stone turns even a mediocre crust into a pretty damn good one, I swear.
I actually completely forgot about pizza sauce until I was like 5 minutes from putting my pizza together. D’oh! No worries, it was easy enough to just whip some up using canned tomato sauce and some herbs/spices (basil, oregano, red pepper flakes). I topped this pizza with mozzarella and romano cheeses, garlic, mushrooms and turkey sausage. To me, mushrooms are a quintessential pizza topping. I don’t care what else is on a pizza, but it needs to be adorned with mushrooms. (I sauté them first, to eliminate the moisture.) This was my first time buying turkey sausage and can I say something? It was not good. It had no flavor whatsoever. It was like eating ground turkey–which has no flavor. Now, I was a bit sick so I’m sure that had a bit to do with it and I am positive there have to be better brands of turkey sausage out there, but next time I’ll just make my own mixture or stick to the delicious varieties of chicken sausage I’ve found.
This pizza dough was pretty perfect. It baked up nice and crisp on the outside with just the right amount of chew inside. I’ll be honest and say that I was worried about not prebaking the crust before adding the toppings. When I’ve used refrigerated dough, pre-baking it has been the only way to ensure a crispy crust without it becoming soggy, or overcooking the toppings. But, no worries whatsoever. It was one less step to take and turned out far better than any refrigerated pizza dough I’ve purchased.
I’m so happy to finally have a pizza crust recipe in my arsenal (not to mention a ball of it in the freezer)!
1/2 cup warm water (about 110°)
1 envelope (2.25 tsp.) instant yeast
1.25 cups room temperature water
2 Tbsp. olive oil (plus more for greasing the bowl)
4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour (plus more for dusting)
1.5 tsp. salt
Measure the warm water into a 2 cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room temperature water and oil, stirring to combine.
Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1.5 to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.
Place your stone in the oven and preheat to 500 for at least 30 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two (or three) equal pieces. Form the pieces of dough into smooth, round balls and cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.
Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other(s) covered, shape the dough and transfer to a pizza peel or parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal. Top as desired.
Slide the pizza onto the baking stone (you can keep it right on the parchment, if you are using that rather than a peel) and bake for about 8-12 minutes, until crust edges brown and cheese is bubbly.
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