Saturday, October 24, 2009

Basic Pizza Dough & Crust Recipe

I somehow promised in my Chicken Sausage Pizza and Chunky Pizza Sauce posts that I will feature the preparation of pizza crust or pizza shell some time later. I know how fulfilling it is to create a pizza from scratch. Using the commercially prepared pizza crust from the frozen section of groceries and supermarkets simply does not ring a bell for me. Cold yes, but uncool I should say. Aside from the fact that it is relatively thicker; it always tastes like ordinary bread.

Last night, I finally had the chance to do it. Anticipating the visit of a friend who used to work in our firm here, I decided to prepare pizza crust just in case I might need to do some pizza sometime today or tomorrow. Being ready with such an easy and yet much-sought after snack food will probably lessen the stress on entertaining the guest.

I used the basic pizza dough recipe for this post. Whilst I have a more special recipe for crust, I am reserving it for future posts when we are to make really extra special pizzas. Though this recipe is fairly basic, don’t think it is inferior or something for it will still result to really delicious pizzas. I have used this recipe many times and it never failed to impress visitors and guests alike. Of course the toppings, sauce and cheeses also make the difference, but an amazing pizza always starts with a good crust.

The few ingredients we need are: 41/4 cups + 2 tbsp All-purpose flour (wheat four is the common flour here in our place so I’ll be using it), 1 ½ cups lukewarm water, 1 tbsp white sugar, 1 tbsp or 1 pack dry yeast, 2 tbsp olive or salad oil (I used vegetable oil :-) ) and 2 tsp salt. Yes, that’s all.

Sift the all-purpose flour and salt in a wide mixing bowl. Add the oil and mix the ingredients.

In a small mixing bowl, pour the lukewarm water then add the sugar and dry yeast. Without mixing, let it stand for about 10~15 minutes or until the yeast is bubbly.

Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl of flour mixture. Mix thoroughly until it starts to form into a ball. Transfer the dough ball on a clean table and knead (folding and pushing) for about 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Use the 2 tbsp of flour to work it when it gets too sticky.

Grease a deep pot. Likewise, slightly coat the dough ball with oil to prevent the surface from cracking when it rises. Place the dough inside the pot and cover with damped cloth. Let it proof for 1½~2 hours, until it doubles its size.

For better result, punch the dough in the center to release the air and let it rise again for 30 minutes. After which, knead it again and divide into 4 smaller balls. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 340 ˚F or 175 ˚C.

Place one small piece of the dough in a floured surface and roll into thin crust of around 14 inches diameter. Carefully transfer in a perforated pizza pan. This is not easy to do if you are after a perfect circle pizza crust with uniform thickness. I can do it now, but through constant practice and after gaining 5 kilos due to over eating pizzas. Just kidding! :-)

Bake in the center of the oven for 8 minutes. Remember: 8 minutes only. Allow to slightly cool and then transfer in a rack to cool completely. Do the same for the next 3 pizza shells.

At this point I usually put them in a large plastic bag and carefully stock inside the freezer. I just take what I intend to use at least 5 minutes before cooking time to properly thaw it. c “,)

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