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Easy Pizza Dough

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Yields four balls of dough for four individual 8-inch pizzas; 1-3/4 pounds total.

You can make the dough a day or a couple of weeks ahead. Put the individual balls in zip-top bags and refrigerate overnight or freeze for longer.

  • 1 package (2-1/4 tsp.) active-dry yeast
  • 1-1/2 cups very warm water (110°F)
  • 18 oz. (4 cups) all-purpose flour; more for dusting
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
Making and dividing the dough

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside (a Pyrex 2-cup measure makes for easy pouring; be sure the cup isn't cold). Meanwhile, put the flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade; process briefly to mix. With the machine running, add the water-yeast mixture in a steady stream. Turn the processor off and add the oil. Pulse a few times to mix in the oil.

Scrape the soft dough out of the processor and onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands, quickly knead the dough into a mass, incorporating any bits of flour or dough from the processor bowl that weren't mixed in. Cut the dough into four equal pieces with a knife or a dough scraper. Roll each piece into a tight, smooth ball, kneading to push the air out.

Rising and storing the dough

What you do next depends on whether you want to make pizza right way or at a later date.

If you want to bake the pizzas as soon as possible, put the dough balls on a lightly floured surface, cover them with a clean dishtowel, and let them rise until they almost double in size, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, turn your oven on, with the baking stone in it, to let the stone fully heat.

Easy Pizza Dough
In just 45 minutes, the dough is proofed. These dough balls are ready to be shaped.

If you want to bake the pizzas tomorrow, line a baking sheet with a floured dishtowel, put the dough balls on it, and cover them with plastic wrap, giving them room to expand (they'll almost double in size), and let them rise in the refrigerator overnight.

To use dough that has been refrigerated overnight, simply pull it out of the refrigerator about 15 minutes before shaping the dough into a pizza.

To freeze the dough balls, dust each one generously with flour as soon as you've made it, and put each one in a separate zip-top bag. Freeze for up to a month.

It's best to transfer frozen dough from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before (or 10 to 12 hours before) you want to use it. But I've found that dough balls pulled straight from the freezer and left to warm up on the counter will be completely defrosted in about 1-1/2 hours. The dough is practically indestructible.

Shaping your pizza

Put the proofed or thawed ball of dough on a lightly floured wooden board. Sprinkle a little more flour on top of the ball. Using your fingertips, press the ball down into a flat cake about 1/2 inch thick.

Easy Pizza Dough Recipe
Flatten the ball into a cake. Flour your fingers -- and the board -- for easier handling.
Easy Pizza Dough Recipe
Stretch the dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch by using the backs of your hands or a rolling pin.

Lift the dough and lay it over the back of the fist of one hand. Put your other fist under the dough, right next to your first fist. Now gently stretch the dough by moving your fists away from each other (see Video). Each time you do this stretch, rotate the dough. Continue stretching and rotating until the dough is thin, about 1/4 inch, and measures about 9 inches across. Unless your dough is still cold from the freezer, it will be so soft that its own weight will stretch it out. Alternatively, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough thinly on a floured board. If you like a very thin pizza, roll the dough out to a 10-inch round. Be careful not to make it too thin, and remember that the thinner the pizza, the less topping it can handle.

Rub a bit of flour onto a wooden pizza peel (or the back of a baking sheet). Gently lift the stretched dough onto the floured peel. Top the pizza, scattering the ingredients around to within 1/2 inch of the border.

Topping your pizza

For some people, pizza isn't pizza without the scarlet of tomatoes peeking through the cheese, but there are many delicious savory combinations that show off fresh seasonal produce. It's better to use winter vegetables like greens or even canned tomatoes when fresh tomatoes are out of season.

To get you started, here are two of my favorite ways to top a pizza -- plus lots of suggestions for combinations to inspire your own designs.

To make the Angeli Caffé's favorite, Pizza al Caprino -- Over the shaped pizza, scatter 10 to 15 cloves roasted or slow-cooked garlic, 5 to 6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (drained and sliced), 3 ounces crumbled goat cheese, a few capers, and a pinch of oregano. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

To make a simple flatbread -- Scatter sliced garlic (3 to 4 cloves), minced fresh rosemary (from 1 small sprig), and coarse salt over the dough. Make several 1/2-inch slashes to keep the dough from puffing up. Drizzle with lots of extra-virgin olive oil before baking, and garnish with Parmesan. Serve this delicious "Pizza Aglio e Olio" with a salad or cheese.

To design your own pizza -- Use any of these topping combinations to inspire your own creation. A generous drizzle of olive oil is a great addition to just about any pizza.

  • Sautéed onions, fresh sage leaves, grated pecorino romano, grated Parmesan.
  • Basil pesto, toasted pine nuts, slow-cooked garlic, grated Parmesan.
  • Sautéed leeks, chopped artichoke hearts, a bit of crushed tomatoes, grated Parmesan.
  • Italian Fontina, Gorgonzola, sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Garlic, olives, capers, anchovies, and crushed tomatoes.
  • Sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil.
  • Thinly sliced prosciutto, ricotta, fresh basil, grated Parmesan.
  • Cooked Italian sausage, sautéed onions, Italian Fontina, mozzarella.
  • Sautéed mushrooms, thinly sliced cooked potatoes, Gorgonzola, crumbled cooked bacon or pancetta.

Baking your pizza

Put a pizza stone or unglazed terra-cotta tiles on the lowest rack of the oven and heat the oven to 500°F. Ideally, let the stone heat in the oven for an hour.

Shake the peel (or baking sheet) gently back and forth to make sure the pizza isn't stuck. If it seems stuck, lift the edges up with a spatula and toss a bit of flour under the dough. Quickly slide the pizza onto the hot baking stone. Bake until the edges are golden, about 8 min. Using a peel, a wide spatula, or tongs, remove the pizza from the oven.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : per 8-inch pizza; Calories (kcal): 530; Fat (g): fat g 8; Fat Calories (kcal): 70; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 1; Protein (g): protein g 14; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 5; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 98; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 880; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 0; Fiber (g): fiber g 4;

Photo: Steve Hunter

So quick and easy to make and to roll out! I always seemed to be looking for a dough that could be made last minute and now I've found it. It made a really nice pizza. This will be my go-to pizza dough from now on for sure!

My go to pizza recipe. Love love love it. I chef at a daycare and the kids are insane for "Pizza Wednesday". I substitute 1 cup of whole wheat flour for the AP to make it a little healthier and I swear it tastes amazing even if you grew up on WonderBread! When I mix it all together I start with 3 1/2 cups flour (one whwh + 2 1/2 ap) and add more if needed. It is easier to add more flour than liquid! hint -- Make 8 times the recipe for 10 pizzas!

My go to pizza dough recipe. Made this again tonight as a flat bread and it got rave reviews. Highly recommend.

This is a terrific recipe! I'm a fairly new yeasted bread baker. I whipped this up by hand and it was as advertised!! I followed the video for shaping and baking on my pizza stone. I imagine it will only get better as I gain experience.

I thought this recipe would be hard to do by hand but it is so easy, it's basically foolproof. This recipe is also very good when the regular flour was replaced with 1/2 spelt and 1/2 white/whole wheat mixture. I did have to add another 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of olive oil to the dough as it was a bit drier than usual. I have also added dried herbs and garlic powder to the dough and it turned out fabulous! My only suggestion is to coat the dough very lightly with some olive oil for the rising. Mine have gotten 'crusty' with just the tea towel draped over (I don't own/use cling wrap.)

Super simple. Super easy. Super fast. I like it better for calzones but it makes for a decent pizza too.

I've just moved to Dubai and don't have a very well equipped kitchen...no food processor or pizza stone! I made this recipe in bowl using my hands to mix it, and cooked it on a baking sheet which I put a little olive oil on. I had to cook it for 5 minutes more than the recipe called for but it turned out wonderfully. The dough was tender and turned out great using this method. It's the best pizza I've had since arriving in Dubai!

This has become my standard pizza dough. It comes together in a couple of minutes, almost no effort, foolproof. I use it for a wide variety of pizzas, calzones, even breadsticks. One of the recipes which resides in the back of my head and doesn't require looking up. Look no further for a good pizza dough.

Awesome, use it all the time. Very easy to make and super easy to use. You can even roll it out for a flatbread.

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