All great pizzas have one thing in common: a good crust. Toppings are important, but the crust is the base for the pizza. Its taste and texture can make or break a pizza.
The key to a delicious pizza crust is great pizza dough. Those who are intimidated by the prospect of making dough often buy it at the grocery store or from their favorite pizzeria. But making great pizza dough at home isn’t as difficult as most people think. It requires some practice and attention to detail, but anyone can do it. Here’s all you need to know to make delicious pizza dough.
Start with the right ingredients. A high quality wheat flour is best for most crusts, but all-purpose flour works better if you’re making deep-dish pizza. Always use active dry yeast. Instant yeast will rise faster, but it robs the crust of its flavor.
Measure your ingredients carefully. Flour should be poured or spooned into the measuring cup. Level dry ingredients with a knife. Measure liquid ingredients in a clear measuring cup, and place it on a level surface to ensure accuracy.
Proof the yeast before adding it to the dough. This is done by combining it with the water, adding a small amount of sugar, and letting it sit for about 10 minutes. If the mixture is bubbly, the yeast is good. If not, it is no longer active and should not be used. Stored properly, active dry yeast will last up to a year, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Mix the ingredients on low speed until the dough comes together, or better yet, stir them together by hand. If the dough is too moist, add flour a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the proper consistency.
Knead the dough by hand. It’s much gentler than using a machine and leaves more of the gases that produce a nice, bubbly crust intact.
If making a large amount of dough, divide it into amounts large enough for one pizza each. Sprinkle with flour and place in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. If possible, make the dough in the morning and refrigerate it until dinner time. It may be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to return to room temperature before stretching. This will take 30 minutes to an hour.
Sprinkle the surface you will use with flour and/or cornmeal. Place the dough ball on it and stretch it into a round. Stretching by hand produces much better results than using a rolling pin.
It may seem like a lot of work, but taking the time to mix and handle the dough properly is essential. Your efforts will be rewarded when your pizza becomes the talk of the town!