Let me begin my first recipe post with a recipe of easy homemade pizza, including the simple dough that can be made at home. No, Pizza Hut is not the only place where you can get great pizza (as was the thinking in our house before i tried this) and i want you also to find that out first hand. You might surprise yourself with the results, as the process is not at all difficult. You want my confession - I made my first pizza at home about 2 months ago and have made it 8 times since. You 've been warned ,it can be addictive when you find out how easy it is.
Pizza dough recipe adapted slightly from smittenkitchen website
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more)
1 tablespoon olive oil - or use any vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sugar
My first step in pizza-dough making is to proof the yeast. Proofing the yeast means to make sure the yeast is alive and will make the dough rise and this requires adding yeast to lukewarm water for 5-10 minutes until the water becomes frothy/foamy. I usually heat the water in microwave for a few seconds until lukewarm. The water should be comfortable enough when you dip your finger in and not feel too hot. If the water is too hot, the yeast will die and your dough won't rise. It is better to err on the colder side. Also, add half a teaspoon of sugar to the yeast - it will speed up the yeast proofing.
Mix all the remaining ingredients in a bowl along with the yeast mixture into a ball. Knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes on a floured surface, sprinkling in a little additional flour if the dough is too sticky. Lightly oil a bowl (use the previous mixing bowl if it is relatively clean - i always do) and put the dough ball in. Turn it all sides until it is completely coated in oil. You will only need about a teaspoon of oil for this. The oil keeps the dough from drying up while it is left to rise, which is the next step. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place until the dough approximately doubles in volume. This might take between 1-2 hours.
Gently deflate the dough on a floured surface. Roll out the dough into pizza (I roll mine into a 12 inch circle, you can experiment with the thickness and shapes - thin crust or thick crust pizza in a circle, square, rectangle or any random shape), lightly brush it with oil and cover it loosely with the plastic wrap. Place it on the pizza pan/ baking sheet in which you will bake the pizza and let it rest for 15-20 minutes.
While the dough is resting, get your pizza topppings ready and preheat the oven to 475F. I use pizza sauce on the base and thinly sliced topping of whatever i have in my kitchen. This pizza pic has red bell pepper, mushrooms, onions, green chillies, black olives and cooked chicken pieces.
And top it with sliced or grated cheese - as much as you like, i am not watching. Bake it for about 12-14 minutes until the cheese is lightly blistered and the pizza calls to you!
Did i tell you that you can make the dough a day in advance and leave it in the refrigerator to rise slowly? It does taste better that way, though i am not entirely sure why. Refrigerated dough needs to be brought back to room temperature before adding the toppings. You can also replace some of the water in the recipe with warm milk to make the pizza bread taste even more delicious. I hear that you can even freeze pizza dough after the first rise for a month. I haven't tried it yet, so let me know if you have firsthand information or tips on that.
On my first attempt I couldn't declare it the best pizza i have ever eaten (especially if you have a picky husband like i do). But as you experiment with the sauces and toppings you will get surely get to that point very very soon. And then, i want you to come back here and tell me :-)