I have two teenage boys. Scratch that. Now I have two full-grown adults. Still, in their perfect world, they would eat pizza every single day. Happily, I have perfected a method of making homemade pizza – with homemade dough – that eliminates the takeout boxes (and the takeout expense) without taking up too much time. Sorry, Domino’s!
By par “baking” a batch of pizza dough and then freezing the ready-to-assemble rounds, pizza is perfect for the last minute dinner emergencies that seem to happen with regularity around here. Kind of like Boboli pizza crust, but without the plastic packaging. This pizza dough recipe makes about a dozen individual sized pizza rounds (8-10″ diameter) when rolled out thinly. It takes about 15 minutes to mix the dough in my KitchenAid mixer and just under half an hour to prepare 12 rounds. My family will eat about 6 of those in one sitting, so I generally do a double** batch of dough – with that we can have pizza the same day I make the rounds, plus put enough dough in the freezer for three more pizza nights. For roughly an hour’s worth of work, I’m set for four different meals – all I have to do to pull it together is corral my boys in the kitchen to chop toppings.
People who have never made a yeast dough tend to freak out at the thought of doing so. Please do not be afraid of yeast dough. This is easy stuff. You mix it, you roll it, you bake it. Totally doable.
PIZZA DOUGH RECIPE
- 1-1/2 cups warm water (120-130 degrees)
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (purchased in bulk) OR 1 envelope
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 4 cups unbleached white flour (can substitute up to 2 cups with wheat or spelt flour if you like)
Make the dough:
In a mixer: Mix together all ingredients except the flour in the bowl of your mixer. Let sit for five minutes to let the yeast start to work. Add flour and mix, using the dough hook. The dough will come together to form a ball and pull away from the side of the bowl; it might be a touch sticky, but that’s okay.
By hand: Mix all of the ingredients except the flour in a large bowl. Let sit for five minutes to let the yeast start to work. Add flour and mix, using a heavy wooden spoon. When the dough starts to get too stiff to stir with the spoon, put the dough on a floured flat surface and use your hands to work the dough into a nice ball. Add a sprinkling of flour if the dough gets terribly sticky.
Set the dough aside to rise for a bit or start rolling it into individual rounds right away. This is a pretty variable step. If you can’t roll it right away, the dough can sit for hours. Just cover it with a clean towel and it will be fine. If you’d rather do it right away, that works, too. Do what’s easiest for you!
Roll the dough:
Sprinkle flour on a smooth rolling surface. Pull off a piece of dough larger than the size of a golf ball, but smaller than the size of a tennis ball. Use a rolling pin or a dowel and roll the dough out on your floured surface to create a nice thin round. Turn the dough over frequently as you roll, adding more flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Add about a tablespoon of flour to your surface for each new ball of dough.
When rolled thinly, this makes an individual sized round, roughly 8-10″ in diameter. If you like your pizza to have a thicker crust, just start with a larger ball of dough. Lately, I’ve taken to rolling my dough out in an oblong shape that fits nicely on my cast iron griddle.
Par “bake” the dough (this is the secret to making it FAST):
When the dough is rolled to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to a hot griddle or frying pan (dry, no oil). It worked fine. Cook for a minute or two, until bubbles start to form on the surface. Flip (I use my hands) and cook the second side for another minute. Cool on a wire rack.
At this point, you can either proceed with making pizza or — here’s my hot tip — stack the precooked dough rounds and freeze for later. Having par-baked pizza dough in the freezer means it’s probably just as quick to bake your own as it would be to head out for takeout.
Make the pizza:
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven as it heats. You want them nice and hot, so you’ll get a crispy crust. Top the precooked pizza dough with pizza sauce (perhaps homemade from your garden?), cheese, and toppings, then slide it onto the hot pizza stone. If you’re not using a stone, just make your pizza(s) on a cookie sheet and put them in the hot oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
**To make a double batch, measure the ingredients for a single batch except for the flour into your mixing bowl. At the same time, measure the same ingredients into another bowl. (A mixer won’t accommodate a double batch all at once. Probably, your arm and a wooden spoon won’t either.) Add the flour to the mixing bowl and mix as directed above. Once the dough is complete, transfer it to an oiled bowl. Pour the extra bowl of measured ingredients into the mixing bowl (and goodness, don’t worry about washing the mixing bowl!) and add flour. Mix as directed above.