Dad’s Kitchen: PIZZA!!!

My Dad’s pretty awesome.  So much so, that he’s willing to divulge his secrets for a KILLER pizza.  Not that I’m biased or anything, but his pizza is as good as anything you’ll ever eat.  He’s been making this homemade circle of deliciousness since my brother and I were kids, but the recipe for the dough has been a continual work in progress over the years.  It’s always been good, but like all the greats, he’s never satisfied until it’s perfect.  And now, at 64-years of age, he’s got a pizza dough recipe that’s pretty darn close to perfect.  Not bad for an Irishman from Levittown.

SIMPLE PIZZA DOUGH (by: Brian Havens)

This recipe will give you enough dough for a large pizza. The same techniques used to make this dough are applicable in making dough for breads and pastries.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Approximate time: 1.5 hours or longer

Measure the bread flour and place it in a separate bowl. I usually use this bowl later to let the dough rise.

In a separate bowl, stir the sugar and salt into the warm water until dissolved. Check the temperature using a digital thermometer until the water temperature is about 110 degrees. If you don’t have a digital thermometer, you can go by feel. It should be warm to the touch but not hot.

I normally use active dry yeast rather than bread machine yeast. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and gently stir it in. Let it stand for a minute or two until you see it activate. You will know it is activated when you see the mixture start to froth like the picture below.

Pizza Dough 1
Add the flour to the yeast mixture and mix it in using a wooden spoon until it is roughly mixed. The mixture will be sticky at this point.

Spread some flour on the counter or whatever surface you will use to knead the dough. Put some flour on your hands and move the dough ball to the counter placing the dough ball on top of the flour so that the dough does not stick to the counter.

Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. You will probably need to add flour as you go along until the dough is moist but not sticky. The dough should have an even appearance and be a bit stretchy.

Pizza Dough 2
Put the olive oil in a clean bowl and place the dough ball in the bowl. Turn the dough ball over so that the olive oil is on the top and bottom of the dough ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap leaving a small opening to let the dough breathe. Put it aside in a warm area and give the dough time to rise.

The dough should double its size in less than an hour. The dough can be used at this point, but I usually knock it down, knead the dough, and let it rise again. Depending on how much time I have, I may do this a couple of times. I think the dough comes out better when it is worked more than once, but that will be for you to decide as you get more experience.

When it is time to make the pizza, I recommend stretching the dough using a rolling pin to avoid tearing it. I usually do the final shaping and stretching by hand. Enjoy!

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