Sunday, November 15, 2009

Crusty Pizza Dough

My pizza, loaded with veggies and cheese.

Who doesn't love pizza? Frozen pizza is often a cheap and easy go-to dinner for busy days, gourmet and specialty pizzas a real treat. One of the best things about pizza is that it is infinitely customizable to individual taste. Vegetarians, vegans, and hard-core carnivores alike can all find a pizza right for them. It can range from the healthy, made with whole wheat crust, tons of veggies, and a little cheese, to the heart attack-inducing meat lover's pizza drenched in mozzarella.

I've made pizza at home frequently in the past, but always with store-bought whole wheat crust, probably due to my hesitance to make yeast breads that required kneading. With my new-found determination to make more yeast breads, I decided to tackle pizza crust. Since it was my first try with this recipe and pizza crust in general, I used all white flour, but in the future I'm going to use half whole wheat flour and make multiple batches so I can freeze some. This recipe makes a pretty thick crust, so if you like thin crust better (as I do), I'd recommend either rolling it out into a much larger pizza or dividing the dough in half for two thin crust pizzas. I used a KitchenAid mixer to knead mine, but you of course can knead it by hand if you don't have one.

Crusty Pizza Dough
from the KitchenAid Baking Companion

1 package active dry yeast (2.25 t.)
1 c. warm water (105 to 115 F)
1/2 t. salt
2 t. olive oil
2.5-3.5 c. all-purpose flour, divided
1 T. cornmeal

Step 1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed bowl of electric stand mixer. Add salt, olive oil, and 2.5 c. flour. Attach dough hook to mixer. Turn to low and mix 1 minute.
Step 2. Continuing on low, add remaining flour, 1/2 c. a time, and mix until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Knead on low about 2 minutes longer.
Step 3. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down.
Step 4. Brush 14-inch pizza pan with oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Press dough into bottom of pan, forming collar around edge to hold toppings. Add toppings as desired. Bake at 450 F for 15 to 20 minutes.

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