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Pizza Dough

As much as I love to cook sometimes the thought of making something I can buy ready-made at Wholefoods doesn’t always seem worth the effort, but whilst the ready-made dough is great for its ease, the taste isn’t always what I want. Recently I started getting pizza from a local place and was blown away by the crispy flavorful crust. I asked the owner and she pointed me to a cook book by Jim Lahey founder of the Sullivan Street Bakery, which is the recipe the shop uses. After buying the book (the same day) I was thrilled to discover a recipe that was easy to make and gave me the same wonderful taste right out of my own oven.

Pizza Dough

3 1/2 cups (or 500 grams) of Bread flour
2.5 teaspoons (10 grams) instant/ dried action yeast
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 1/3 cups (300 grams) of water – room temperature
Extra virgin olive oil to grease your baking tray

In a medium sized bowl stir the flour, sugar, salt and yeast together, then add the water bit by bit and mix until everything is blended and formed into a lose ball. This should be quick – the ball doesn’t need to be pretty. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it sit for 2 hours, it should approximately double in volume.

Sprinkle a small amount of flour on your counter top or on a sheet of parchment paper.  Using a rubber spatula remove the dough from the bowl and roughly shape into a ball in your hands and then place on the floured surface.

Now, depending on what size pizza you are planning on making you’ll need to split the dough into either two or three pieces. If you split it into two, each piece will be enough to cover a 13″x18″ sheet pan, or if into three, it’s enough to make three 9″ round pizzas, and of course, if you want to make small individual ones then just split it out as many times as you want! Once you have split the dough into your desired number of pieces, cover with a moistened paper towel and let it sit for a further 30 minutes. This is the point where I turn on the oven, it needs to be at 500 degrees – with my oven it takes roughly 30 minutes to reach this temperature so once the dough’s finished it’s hot enough to begin cooking, handy!

Oil the baking trays, pick up the dough and stretch it the length of the baking sheet, place it on the sheet floured side down. Using your fingers stretch the dough to fill the entire bottom of the pan. The dough is now ready to be topped as you like then baked in your 500 degree oven for approximately 15 to 30 minutes depending on what it’s topped with. You can save any unused dough in a very lightly oiled bag in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for about 3 months.

If I’m making this for lots of people I usually go down the 13″x18″ sheet pan route, but mid-week for the kids I use a 13″ round pizza pan that fits in my toaster oven (which only heats to 450 but that doesn’t seem to cause a problem) so I don’t have to turn on my main one, it’s quick and easy and my children love helping out with the making of them.

Next week I’m hoping to post some of my favorite topping combinations, but if any of you have ideas you’d like to suggest we’d love to hear from you! – Melani

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