How to Make Basic Pizza Dough

Reader Contribution by Jonathan Sadowski
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This recipe is a gateway recipe to the wonderful world of homemade pizza. It is simple and delicious. It has plenty of flexibility for cooks at any level to grow into, learn from, experiment with, and/or hone their dough-making skills.This recipe is a hybrid of classic and quick recipes that I have adapted to fit my busy family’s lifestyle. The sky is the limit with this recipe: extra spices add flare, cast iron / deep dish pizza become a regular joy, calzones become a possibility — you name it.

The main aspect of what makes this so great is the short learning curve (due to the small number of steps). Mastering this basic recipe boosts confidence in the kitchen, provides a go-to meal when the cupboards start to empty, and opens up a world of culinary experimentation, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Without further adieu…

Basic Pizza Dough Recipe

Tools: Large bowl with non-airtight cover (I usually use a dish cloth), cookie sheet or pizza stone, measuring cups and spoons, cheese grater, large spoon or ladle.

Ingredients for dough

1 cup warm water
1.5 tbsp. (1 pkg.) dry active yeast
1 tsp. sugar
2.5 cups white unbleached flour
2 tbsp. olive oil
1tsp. salt
1-2 extra tbsp. of olive oil

In a large mixing bowl, combine water, yeast and sugar. Place the cover on the bowl and let it sit for at least 10 minutes.* Add salt to the flour, then add the combination to the yeast mixture, followed by 2 tbsp of olive oil. Stir the ingredients with wet hands or a wooden spoon.  Mix until there is no more dry flour or lumps in the dough.  An additional splash or two of water is sometimes necessary. Cover the dough and let sit for at least 10 minutes.* Begin preheating oven at 425 degrees. Before removing the dough from the bowl, pour a light coating of the extra olive oil onto the pizza stone/baking sheet. Remove dough from the bowl, and place it in a ball on the pizza stone/baking sheet. With wet hands, roll the dough in the olive oil so the outside is lightly coated. Start flattening the dough with either wet hands or a rolling pin. It is important that there are no space or holes in the dough once it is laid out.** When the dough has been worked to the thickness and shape of your liking, you are ready to make pizza.

*The longer you can wait for the yeast and dough to rise, the lighter and (in my opinion) tastier it will be.  This recipe can have dough ready in 20 minutes: 10 minutes for the yeast to activate, 10 minutes for the dough to rise.  I have found the best mix of taste-improvement and waiting time is: 20 minutes for the yeast to activate, 25 minutes for the dough to rise.  This is where the versatility of this recipe shines.  A good dough is created quickly, an even better dough results from taking it a little slower.

**This is step is hard to give direction on as to what the dough should look like.  Here is where you can make your pizza as thick or as thin as you want it.  Decisions need to be made whether to roll up a traditional handle-type crust around the outside or have cheese and toppings from coast to coast.  This step is also very satisfying when done efficiently, usually after making a few attempts/mistakes. 

The Rest of the Pizza

Once the dough is made, there can be no guidance on what to do next.  Extra cheese, no sauce, extra sauce, meatlovers, veggie-lovers, whatever.  Now that the dough is made, it’s all about the cook’s decisions from here on out.  Just to bring this particular project to a close, I chose to go the veggie route.  I used:

1 cup pizza sauce
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
½ green pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 medium tomato, diced

Spread the sauce around the dough as evenly as desired. Sprinkle cheese evenly on top of the sauce. Add toppings.

Put in oven (preheated at 425) for 23-25 minutes.

Allow 5-7 minutes cooling once the pizza is out.  The cooking process is not complete until after it cools. Enjoy!

Try this recipe once, twice, three times, and, in no time, homemade pizza is part of your routine menu planning.

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