Friday, April 5, 2013

Mama W's Famous Pizza Dough

I am a huge fan of pizza... who isn't?!  Well my mom just so happens to make the most AMAZING pizza dough, from scratch.  She has been making pizza (almost weekly) for my family and friends for over 25 years now.  Her pizza is so delicious, my friends will come over and actually request for her to make it... and recently my foodie-friends started asking for her pizza dough recipe, pizza dough lessons, etc.  Well after many years of keeping her recipe to herself (in her head), she finally agreed to give me, my sister, and some friends our first 'pizza dough making' lesson.

I'll tell you what... making pizza dough is not an easy task, there are a lot of steps involved!  But once you make a batch of this pizza dough, you will never buy store-bought or pre-made dough again.  Mama W's dough/crust turns out crusty, chewy, light, and hearty all at the same time.  And the great part is this recipe makes so much dough you can freeze some, then it will be ready to use it at a later time!  This dough recipe makes enough for 1 extra large pizza (18"+), or 3 small/medium (12") size pizzas.

Mama W's Famous Pizza Dough

2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. dry active yeast
1 tbsp. salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup warm water (just warm to the touch, make sure not too hot)
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
cooking spray

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and dry active yeast.  Add 1/4 cup warm water and let sit for 2-3 mins; yeast will start to soften and dissolve.

Once yeast has 'bloomed', slowly mix in 1 cup flour, salt, apple cider vinegar, and 2 tbsp. olive oil. Blend well.

Slowly begin to add remaining 3 cups flour and 1 1/2 warm water to the bowl, alternating flour and water.  Dough will begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  To loosen up dough up, slowly add remaining olive oil while mixing.  When dough pulls off sides cleanly, take the dough off the mixing paddle and return to bowl.

At this point you can use a kneading paddle (for a KitchenAid or mixer) or knead by hand.

Put on kneading attachment, turn mixer to medium and knead for 3-5 minutes.  If dough needs to be loosened more, continue to add additional warm water or olive oil.  When dough is ready it will pull away from the bowl cleanly.  Turn off mixer.

Spray hands with cooking spray, then pull dough away from the kneading paddle and set on a lightly floured surface.  Spray the inside of the empty mixing bowl with cooking spray.  Knead the dough into a ball.

Place dough ball in the greased bowl, spray top with cooking spray and cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Place bowl on the counter (or someplace room-temperature) to let the dough rise.  The rising process will take about 1.5-2 hours, and the dough will double in size.

Once dough has risen completely, transfer to a lightly floured surface and punch dough down.  Punch and work dough for a few minutes.  (At this point, you can section off into smaller portions to freeze - wrap sections in plastic wrap)**

Work/roll out dough into a circle and desired crust thickness, place on a well-seasoned pizza pan or a pizza stone, then top with desired sauce and toppings.

Bake in a preheated oven at 450-500 for 15-18 minutes* (on the top rack).

*The cooking time will depend on thickness and amount of toppings, so check on bottom of crust frequently to make sure the dough is not burning. You can also pre-bake the crust for a few mins. before putting the toppings on to ensure the crust will cook through.

** If you choose to freeze the dough:
When ready to use, remove dough from freezer and bring to room temperature.  Once room temp., remove from plastic wrap and then the dough can be worked into a circle, topped, and baked as directed above.

Since 'pizza dough making' lessons are no fun unless you can eat the pizza too, we invited a bunch of friends over for a pizza-making PARTY!  We put out every pizza topping you could think of, gave each person some dough, and let everyone make their own pizza.  It was fun to see what pizza creations our friends came up with... there was everything from stuffed crust, to pesto chicken, to Stromboli, to spicy Thai chicken pizza.  Each pizza was a different thickness, size, shape, and topped differently but they all had one thing in common... they all had a DELICIOUS pizza crust courtesy of Mama W! 

Remember what Mama W says, "Don't get discouraged, there is a fine art to the perfect pizza.  It's going to take time and practice to figure out what works best... just keep trying".  Looks like there will be lots more pizza in the future....... yummmmmmmmmmmmmm.

A special thanks to my mom for her collaboration on this one... it took us some time to get all the steps out of her head and into a recipe format. ;)

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