Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thin Crust Pizza Dough

Homemade pizza dough is not hard to make…it just takes time. So when my family finds itself with a little extra time…we like to schedule the occasional pizza making “event” on a Saturday night. Our pizza parties are fun, delicious experiments where every potential topping is considered fair game. I start making the pizza dough mid-afternoon and then start chopping, slicing, blending, tearing, and sautéing potential toppings. Then, after friends and family have come over and everyone has a cold beverage and a few nibbles on the potential toppings lined-up along the kitchen counter, we light the gas grill and pre-heat the gas grill pizza stones (yes, we have two stones for the gas grill.) When the pizza stones are screaming hot (pre-heated for about 30 minutes on high with the lid closed), we start rolling out dough and making some pretty awesome thin crust pizzas. 

I put a big cutting board in the middle of the kitchen table (aka “the pizza catcher”) and hot pizzas are slid onto the board. Whoever is closest to the pizza cutter slices them up and everybody digs in. Everyone has the chance to create their perfect pizza. Sometime around toward the end of the evening we’re usually digging through the pantry for almonds, pecans, chocolate chips, and marshmallows, or we slice up some pears or peaches to make some kind of dessert pizza. (Note: Do not top dessert pizza with chocolate chips or marshmallows until after the pizza has been transferred to the hot pizza stone…the toppings have a tendency to roll into the fire as you slide the pizza onto the stone…yes, we learned this the hard way.) You’ll have some real winner pizzas, and you’ll make the occasional yucky pizza. But, the more you make your own pizza, the braver you get. You just might surprise yourself. The pizza pictured here is a no-sauce pizza. I brushed the crust with olive oil and about 1/4 teaspoon crushed garlic, then I topped it with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded, low moisture mozzarella cheese and some of my homemade marinated cremini mushrooms and red onions that I had leftover in the refrigerator. But, you can top your pizza with practically anything. Head to the olive bar in your grocery store and load up on olives. Or head to the salad bar! You can make it as easy or as complicated as you want. Give it a try. It’s loads of fun.

Thin Crust Pizza Dough
by Maryjo

1/2 cup warm water (105° to 110°F)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon honey
3 cups Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup warm water (105° to 110°F)
Non-stick cooking spray

Add the dry yeast and honey to 1/2 cup of warm water, stir to combine and let the yeast bloom for about 5 minutes. Using a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the flour and salt to the mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture and the olive oil. Mix on low with the dough hook attachment until it starts to come together. Slowly add additional warm water, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough begins to come together and pull away from the edges of the bowl and forms a ball on the dough hook. If the dough looks too try, add additional water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the dough is firm, but not wet looking. Turn the stand mixer to medium high and knead the dough for 7 or 8 minutes. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray, form the dough into a ball and place the dough ball into the bowl. Spray the top of the dough ball with more cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm spot for two hours.

After two hours, punch down the dough and divide into 6 equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a ball and place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Spray the top of each dough ball with non-stick spray and cover with plastic. Let it rise again for another hour. Pre-heat your pizza stone 30 minutes before making your first pizza. If you’re cooking in the oven, place the pizza stone on the middle rack and crank up the heat to the highest setting your oven will allow (usually around 500°F.) If you’re cooking on a gas grill pizza stone, place the stone on the grill grate, light each burner and turn to high. Close the lid and pre-heat the stone for 30 minutes (be sure all burners are lit prior to closing the lid.) Working with one dough ball at a time, lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll the dough into a thin disk with a rolling pin (about 8 to 10 inches round.) Place on a pizza peel and top with your favorite sauce, garlic oil, cheese, meat and/or vegetables. If you are cooking in the oven, your pizza will cook in about 8 to 12 minutes (rotate the pizza half way through the cooking time.) If you are cooking on the grill, your pizza will cook in about 4 to 8 minutes, depending on how hot your grill gets (rotate the pizza half way through the cook time.) If you would like to make whole wheat pizza dough, substitute 1 cup of the white flour with 1 cup of Bob's Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat Flour. This recipe makes 6 small pizzas (8-10 inch rounds.)

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