For years I either ordered pizzas from a local establishment or cooked frozen pizzas, often supplementing them with additional ingredients to customize them to my taste. Ample Bites has recently discovered the beauty of making pizza dough and I was amazed by the ease and simplicity of the process. After trying several recipes, which required proofing times of between 45 minutes to 18 hours, I have arrived on the pizza dough recipe that I like best. It is from one of the “masters”, Wolfgang Puck.
(Courtesy of Wolfgang Puck, “Pizza, Pasta & More!”, 2000)
Makes crusts for 4 pizzas of about 10 – 12″ diameter
1 package of active dry or fresh yeast
1 tsp honey
1 cup warm water, 105 to 115F
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and honey in 1/4 cup of the warm water.
in a food processor, combine the flour and the salt. Add the oil, the yeast mixture, and the remaining 3/4 cup of water and process until the mixture forms a ball. (The pizza dough can also be made in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed until the mixture comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and starts to climb up the dough hook.)
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand 2 or 3 minutes longer. The dough should be smooth and firm. Place the dough in to a medium-sized oiled bowl and cover with a clean towel. Let the dough rise for about 2 hours.
Divide the dough into 4 balls, about 6 ounces each. Work each ball by pulling down the sides and tucking them under the bottom of the ball. Repeat about 4 or 5 times. Then on a smooth, un-floured surface roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the top of the dough is smooth and firm, about 1 minute. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest for about 1 hour before rolling out and dressing with pizza topping ingredients of choice.
While dough is rising and/or resting you can prepare your toppings. One of the joys of making your own pizza is that you can completely customize each pizza with the sauce and toppings. Some of Ample Bites’ favorite toppings are green olives, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions and my homemade italian sausage.
The best pizza cooking methods include preheating the oven to at least 500F and preheating pizza stones for at least 15 minutes before placing the pizzas on them for cooking. Preheating produces crisp but chewy pizza crusts in the 12 to 18 minutes it takes for the toppings to mingle with the melting cheeses.