Perfect, Chewy, Crusty Pizza Dough

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Making pizza at home has always been one of my favorite things to do, as a child and an adult.  I have such fond memories rolling out the dough, topping it with whatever combinations of toppings were available, and my mother hoping that there would be enough cheese left after all my sampling.  My mother would buy the tubes of dough or bags of frozen dough balls or sometimes making fresh for make-your-own-pizza night.  No matter what the dough was like, pizza night was always fun.  Maybe it was the pizza, or perhaps the playing with my food, or possibly even that it meant a relaxed family dinner (and if I was lucky enough, a movie in front of the tv!).

As a mother, I have learned to appreciate this culinary family tradition for different reasons, watching through the motherhood lens my daughter taste testing the cheese, me moving the cheese out of reach so there would be enough for the actual pizza, experimenting with a variety of toppings, and her waiting impatiently for the pizzas to cook (and cool).  But for some reason, the tube dough just doesn’t taste as good as it did when I was a kid.  And I still don’t have enough patience waiting for the frozen dough to thaw.  I have tried to make my own dough at home for years and have been only moderately successful.  And when I say moderately, I mean I get the dough to rise properly and it’s edible.  But beyond that, it’s been underwhelming.  No one is doing that happy dance you do when something is so delicious you just can’t help to wiggle and smile in contentment.

So I started to buy my dough from my favorite local pizza joint.  (Did you know that your fave pizza place will sell you the dough?  It costs roughly a $1.50-$2 for a large ball, which will yield about 2 thin crust pizzas or 4 individual size.  This is really GREAT in a pinch!)  Believe me, I love that dough, it’s actually rather perfect, but the foodie and perfectionist in me has always been disappointed in my failure to create a homemade dough that was worth the effort.

Until now…  Until I discovered and began my love affair with semolina flour.  Yup, semolina flour strikes again…  Breads, pastas, and now pizza dough?!  For all the reasons why it’s so perfect in bread and pasta, it is also the right choice for pizza dough.  Chewy, crusty with unique taste…  It’s actually what most pizza joints actually use in their own dough.  I’ve been experimenting and testing ratios and measurements for what feels like an eternity and now, I give you that gift…

  • 1 1/2 C. warm water (turn your tap on and run for a couple minutes until it’s warm to the touch_
  • 1 packet of yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. honey
  • 3 C. all-purpose flour (or whole wheat if you prefer)
  • 1 C. semolina flour
  • Corn meal for dusting the pizza pan
  • Olive oil for the bowl as the dough rises

In a glass measuring cup, combine water, yeast and honey.  Make sure the yeast dissolves completely.  It should look life this:

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Pour into mixing bowl and add semolina flour and mix.

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Add all purpose flour one cup at a time, mixing after each addition until the dough comes together pulling away from the sides of the bowl.  It will be slightly gummy and sticky to the touch.

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Turn dough out onto well floured surface.  Knead for 5 minutes until the dough is no longer sticky and is smooth (literally like a baby’s bottom).

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Push with the heels of your hands into the dough.

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Fold dough over and tun 1/4 turn clockwise and repeat.

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After about 5 minutes, the dough should look like this:

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Liberally oil your mixing bowl with olive oil.  Return dough to bowl and toss around to make sure it’s fully coated with oil.

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Cover with a clean dishtowel and put in a warm location and let rise until it doubles in size.  Now that it’s summer, your kitchen window is probably a perfect place.  (Me, this time, I took my bowl and placed it on a table outside in the shade on my porch while I weeded my garden and it was perfect.)

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Turn out onto floured surface.  The dough will look airy and light.  Divide into desired chunks.  I would quarter it and it makes 4 medium thin pizzas.

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At this point, you could go a lot of directions.

Pizza

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Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  I have a cast iron pizza stone, which I place in the oven to preheat with the oven.  I prepare my pizza on a pizza peel and slide it onto the hot stone in the oven.  This ensures that the dough starts to cook immediately.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden.  If you don’t have these tools, don’t worry, use a cookie sheet and the results will still be great.  You may need to cook for a minute longer to ensure that the bottom gets nice and crusty.

Pizza Roll:

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To make this: roll out the dough as you would for pizza.  Spread sauce, leaving a 1 inch border around.  Top with your desired toppings.  Carefully roll the dough into a log.  Use water to seal the edges.  Place on pizza pan seam side down.  Bake for about 15 minutes at 425 degrees.

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Individual pizzas:

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The skies the limit!!  Enjoy!

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