I've been craving pizza lately - you know, the kind with the thick, chewy crust, melted cheese and good toppings. My usual tastes in pizza toppings are pretty simple: sausage and pepperoni (carnivore, remember?), Canadian bacon and pineapple, and one of my favorites: barbecue chicken. I have a coupon for a free pizza from Pizz'a Chicago and I love their pizzas but it always seems a little, well, piggish, to buy a pizza just for my own personal consumption, especially one of their yummy, thick crust pizzas. I'd love the first piece, talk myself into a second piece out of sheer gluttony, then be sick and hate myself if I ate the rest. So I'm waiting until I have guests over to order from Pizz'a Chicago.
But I still want pizza so why not make my own? I usually cheat on homemade pizza and the times I don't buy a Digiorno pizza are the times when I buy a Boboli crust, pizza sauce in a jar, cheese and toppings. I've never actually made homemade pizza dough. But the recipes I looked at seemed pretty simple. If I could make bread, I figured I could make pizza dough. I chose this recipe from the Practical Encyclopedia of Baking because it looked the easiest. This is one of those books I don't remember actually buying but have probably had for years and never used it. I just liked looking at all the pictures (rolls eyes).
I have to admit I still "cheated" on the rest of the pizza - honey barbecue sauce in a jar. I know, I know. I did cut and cook the chicken on my own though, lol. Cut it into the size I wanted for the topping, stir fried it with some salt, pepper, thyme and oregano then mixed half of it into the barbecue sauce and let it cool while I waited for the pizza dough to rise. The great thing about making your own pizza is you control what goes on it. The best pizzas in my opinion are loaded with toppings. Not necessarily a ton of cheese but I like my barbecue chicken pizza with lots of chicken.
Below is the recipe for the pizza dough - top with whatever sauce and toppings you prefer. I didn't manually knead the dough but used my KitchenAid and dough hook to do all the work. I ended up baking it for about 22 minutes at 425 degrees. The pizza turned out okay. I wouldn't say the crust is anything to brag about - it's a pretty basic white bread dough, not overtly buttery and flaky like Patxi's in Palo Alto but still crunchy around the edges and chewy elsewhere. It was good and now that I know how easy pizza dough is to make, I'm going to be looking to experiment more with making my own homemade pizzas and trying out other pizza dough recipes.
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
¾ cup warm water (105⁰-110⁰F)
2 ¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1. Put the yeast in a small bowl, add ¼ cup of the water, and let it soak 1 minute. Whisk lightly with a fork until dissolved.
2. Sift the flour and salt into a large warm bowl. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture, olive oil, and remaining warm water.
3. Using your fingers, gradually draw flour into the liquids. Continue mixing until all the flour is incorporated and the dough will just hold together.
4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it until it is smooth and silky, about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Put it in an oiled bowl and rotate to coat the surface with oil.
5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Turn the dough onto the lightly floured surface again. Gently punch down the dough to deflate it. Knead lightly until smooth.