I've got a long history of bad luck with pizza dough. Actually, with anything that requires yeast. I've never had much luck with the whole rising thing. Part of my frustration is that I never found a good place for the rising to take place - too cool, to drafty, or whatever. It was TV Network's Alton Brown who gave me the tip that has changed my baking life. In an episode about cinnamon rolls here is what he did. He boiled water and then poured it into a 9x13 pan, put the pan in the bottom rack of the oven (not turned on) and then put his rolls on an upper rack to rise, creating a steam bath effect. This is what I've been doing for my pizza dough and it works perfectly.
I've been making dough about once a week for the last couple of months. My wife's getting tired of pizza but that is not a possibility for our boys. They would eat it three times a day if we let them. Mine is a thin-crust version and I use half whole wheat flour and half all purpose flour. Here's my recipe.
- 3/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
Fill a small bowl with the 3/4 cup warm water and stir in the yeast. Let this stand for about five minutes or until the yeast dissolves. Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor, pulsing a few times to combine. Add the water and yeast, along with the olive oil and processes until it forms into a ball.
Move this to a floured work surface and knead until smooth, adding more all purpose flour, if needed, until the dough is smooth and not sticky. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in your oven, along with the hot water pan below it, as indicated above. Let this rise until doubled in volume, about an hour. Remove from the oven and punch down (my favorite part). It is ready to use immediately, but can also be put in a plastic ziplock bag (quart-size is perfect) and stored in the refrigerator overnight. This is what I typically do, make the dough after dinner one night in preparation for dinner the next night.
When ready to make the pizza, remove the dough from the fridge to get the chill off (seems to handle better when not too cold). Divide the dough in half for two crusts. Use a floured surface, a rolling, pin, and your hands to get the crust very thin. Work on getting it into a 13-1/2 by 8-1/2 rectangle.
Transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper. This crust needs to bake at 475 degrees for about 15 minutes. Top with the whatever floats your gondola. I love pizza made from this dough. We may never order another delivery pizza again!
Originally published February 27, 2007