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daring bakers: basic pizza dough

Recipe: basic pizza dough

Whoa, it’s been a while! But I’m finally back to my Daring Bakers Challenge, this time with pizza thanks to our awesome hostess, Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yums. I was thrilled that she picked a nominally savory (you could make it sweet, and I’m sure Tartelette did!) recipe.

the daring bakers: we knead to bake!

The only pizza dough I’ve made is the recipe out of the KitchenAid recipe book. You know the one I’m talking about – the book that comes with the KitchenAid stand mixer. It’s a good recipe and we have taken to making thin crust pizzas with it. This month’s challenge was a little different. For one thing, it required cold water instead of warm water.

cold water

That’s because it called for instant yeast instead of active dry yeast. What’s the difference? Funny you should ask. There is indeed a difference. I know this because I used active dry yeast the first time, thinking it was the same. It is not the same.

pouring olive oil

When I made the pizza dough with active dry yeast, the yeast never activated and we didn’t get that lovely aroma when the dough baked, or those nice pockets of air in the bread… Since it was thin crust, we could overlook the mistake and it was fine, just not delicious.

the dough

The second time around, I had instant yeast in hand. See, I’m trainable. I noticed that this dough wanted to jump out of the mixer, so I took it out and kneaded by hand – which is a really therapeutic activity.

chopping into 6ths

brushing with oil (i had no spray thingy)

The dough balls went into the refrigerator overnight. The next day after they had been out for 2 hours, it was time to toss the dough. Problem with that is I’ve had tendonitis in my wrist for over a month and it was nearly impossible to toss the pizza and get a shot of it. I asked Jeremy to try it, but I could see that was going nowhere fast. I stretched the dough on my fists, but no tossing. They turned out well enough.

favorite toppings: mushroom and pepperoni

I kept the toppings simple since this was our second go of it. I also used sauce from a jar because my patience was wearing *this* thin. We don’t have a pizza stone and my pizzas were small enough that they worked just fine on a baking sheet (right side up). I let ours bake for 10 minutes instead of 8. I’m not sure if that is because I like my pizzas more bubbly or because our altitude requires more cooking time.

right outta the oven

The crust was beautifully crispy with that wonderful yeasty flavor of fresh bread. Jeremy ate two of the pizzas in one evening. I had a good time of it and now I have two pizza dough methods to choose from when I want to make pizza. Thanks so much to Rosa for hosting. Be sure to check out the rest of the Daring Bakers’ creations this month and pay homage to our beloved founders Lis and Ivonne


Basic Pizza Dough
[print recipe]
Original recipe taken from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

Makes 6 pizza crusts, about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter.

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 tsps salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 cups water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 tbsp sugar
cornmeal for dusting

day one
Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer). Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water. [NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water. The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.] Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas). [NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.] Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball. [NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.] Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days. [NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.]

day two
On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C). [NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan. Jen used a regular baking sheet, not the back of it.] Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss. [NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.] During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping. In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again. You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter – for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes. [NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.] If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

50 nibbles at “daring bakers: basic pizza dough”

  1. Tartelette says:

    Am I that easy to read? Oh Yes!!!
    It looks splendid Jen! Glad you did a second take on it because it came out perfectly!

  2. Kitt says:

    Awesome indeed! No pizza stone here, either, so it’s nice to know you can bake it on a cookie sheet.

  3. Mrs Ergül says:

    Your pizza looks beautiful! I too kneaded the dough by hand and I love doing it this way. I also feel a greater sense of satisfaction :-) No extravagant toppings for me too, simple is the way to go!

  4. Manggy says:

    Whoa, 2 pizzas! Go Jeremy! :) Excellent, excellent choice of toppings too!
    To be honest I was kind of worried for your hand when you mentioned the kneading. I hope it didn’t aggravate it too much :(

  5. linda says:

    Your pizza looks wonderful, especially considering that you didn’t have a pizza stone. Hope mine will brown well too (don’t have a stone either).

  6. Tony says:

    I would totally have a slice of this for breakfast, Jen! beautiful job with the photos, too!

  7. Foodiefroggy says:

    Yes, indeed, beautiful pictures. Your pizza looks yummy.

  8. Rosa says:

    Your pizza looks awesome and ever so perfect! Really scrumptious! Very well done, as usual!



  9. Debbie Green says:

    Very nice looking pizza and I bet it is delicious too!

  10. Sarah says:

    Wow, I want to eat that pizza off the screen (after scraping off the mushrooms…sorry!). Great job!

  11. Kelley says:

    Wow, that chunk of dough cut from the dough scraper looks so satisfying. I like my pizzas well done too. They look delicious!

  12. Lori says:

    It was a great tasting pizza crust! I love the shot of oil being brushed on the dough balls.

  13. Naama says:

    Gorgeous photos! Your pizza looks really really delicious!

  14. Candace says:

    Yum! That looks fabulous… gorgeous photos, as usual!

  15. Y says:

    Your second dough looks fantastic. Love the photos of the chopped dough and the brushing of the oil.

  16. Susan/Wild Yeast says:

    Yes, awesome — looks just the way a pizza should!

  17. Lan says:

    ok, *now* i know why my dough was … odd. i used the wrong yeast. but you decided to go at it again… me, eh. i’m not that pressed for pizza. your pizza looks great, and i love that you had jeremy try to toss it.

  18. Amber says:

    Your pizza looks delicious! Excellent job.

  19. Margie says:

    I love your pizza pies. Can I have a slice? :)

    Jen, I formerly owned a spritzer for my oil, but after it clogged and I cleaned it (repeatedly), I simply went back to using a brush or my hands (much simpler and just as efficient).

    Working with dough is theraputic to the soul. There is something about moving that work of art between ones fingers… very special, indeed!

  20. Gretchen Noelle says:

    This looks oh so delicious! Perfect for breakfast this morning. Now I have to wonder if I used the right yeast, normally they all seem to work for me in the end, but my crusts were so super thin that they folded in half.

  21. Laura says:

    Pepperoni and mushrooms are my favorite pizza toppings in the whole world! Yum! Yum!

  22. Lynn says:

    What lovely pictures. Your pizza looks delicious. I noticed in your previous entry the picture of your puppy. Adorable. I also noted that you are going to write a novel in November. Me, too! Food and writing…

  23. Caitlin says:

    That looks wonderful – the cheese is so browned and bubbly! And there’s nothing wrong with pre-made sauce, it still tasted wonderful, right?

  24. Aran says:

    love the color of that olive oil against the flour… your photos are pure light, i swear. i skipped this month’s challenge… oh no, now i’m regreting it!

  25. Cynthia says:

    Jen, You unknowingly reminded me the challenge was due as I was reading your website last night ( gave you credit and a link from my blog to yours). I have to admit, I got mine posted just a few minutes ago, but we loved it. I agree…awesome.

  26. Madeleine says:

    Great photos!!!

    Good work!!! :)

  27. Mollie says:

    I love pizza…. could eat it all the time. I may have to give this dough a go and see how it holds up against my go-to recipe!

  28. Abby says:

    OK. He ate two pizzas? Then this is definitely a clippable recipe!

  29. maybelles mom (feeding maybelle) says:

    too bad the yeast had some troubles but glad it tasted yeasty and yummy

  30. HoneyB says:

    Your pizza looks AWESOME. Great photos.

  31. Ally says:

    I just love your pictures! I am a huge fan of mushrooms on my pizza, your concoction looks wonderful!

  32. Lesley says:

    Your pizza is wonderful! Yum! And your pictures are so crystal clear. Great job.

  33. Ivonne says:

    Drooling over here! Just drooling!

  34. CookiePie says:

    Your pizza looks fantastic! I want to take a bite out of the slice in that last shot!!

  35. jillian says:

    Great looking pizza! I could eat two of those pizzas without a problem too!

  36. Regina says:

    Your pizzas turned out beautifully! I had no idea that instant and active dry yeasts are different – thanks for the tip.

  37. peabody says:

    A nice classic option. Yum, yum.

  38. katie says:

    I like the step by step photos. Your dough looks so professional!

  39. clumbsycookie says:

    I’m allways amazed by your wonderful pictures! And the pizz is just beautiful of course!

  40. jenyu says:

    Thank you, everyone! The pizzas were awesome thanks to Rosa!

    Mark – the kneading was easy (used right hand). The tossing was hell (both hands). :(

  41. Carolyn Osborne says:

    I always use instant yeast but never thought about there being a difference. I’ve been using the same dough recipe for over 40 yrs. Didn’t know the dough should be sticky! Mine turns out either tough or, hopefully, crisp. I’m still working on that problem. Question: My biggest problem is, when the pizza is done, there is too much “liquid” floating on the top, I oil the dough and prebake it. Then I smear the sauce on, sprinkle grated cheese (sometimes it’s sliced) and top with veggies and/or meat. I have even cooked the veggies and meat first but that hasn’t helped. What am I doing wrong? At this point, I just soak up the juice with paper towels before it is cut. I am going to try your dough recipe. It looks GOOD!

  42. Linda says:

    I am so blown away by your amazing photos! Thin crust pizza with pep and shrooms…this is my kinda pie…YUM!

  43. jenyu says:

    Carolyn – Not sure what kind of liquid is floating on top? Sounds like it is oil. Perhaps try topping the dough before baking it?

  44. White On Rice Couple says:

    I have to quickly bypass these pictures. I’m just fucking hungry right now..

    and Oh, I missed the comment on the Obama post….fuck yes!!! Finally, finally, finally, a breath of fresh air and new hope…

  45. Holly says:

    Heh, I did the same thing with the yeast! It tasted fine, but I’m sure it will be better when I make it again with the proper yeast!

  46. jenyu says:

    WoRC – woohoo!

    Holly – yup, it is different with the instant yeast :)

  47. Kim says:

    oh, boy. i have been searching for an at-altitude pizza dough recipe for ages. i cannot WAIT to try this! thanks, jen!

  48. Shelley says:

    I tried this recipe and it was a minor disaster. I definately would recommend creating your pizza on the back of a baking sheet and sticking it in the oven when its heated as opposed to using the baking stone method. I say this because it was nearly impossible to get my topped pizza from my floured surface to the stone. I nearly gave up on the whole project after having done all the work. I ultimately did get the pizza onto the stone but it was more of a pizza blob and did not cook uniformally. It also did not end up being crispy at all though the dough was clearly cooked. I’ll try one more time just because I made enough dough for multiple pizzas but as I said, I will definately use the back of the baking sheet method! Love your blog! I just didn’t have fun with this one.

  49. jenyu says:

    Shelley – yeah, I’m sorry. I have never used a pizza stone as we still don’t own one. The baking sheet works great though. And the hotter the oven, the better.

  50. Joel says:

    Just to let you know-and I make a lot of pizza dough and pizza at home-if you have a grill with a high top you can put the pizza on a baking sheet with lots of hole-like a pizza screen-and then cook at 650-700 degrees like they do with real pizza ovens. And I made your spring rolls (fried) last night using shredded duck breast instead of pork, then fried in coconut oil. Yum.

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