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Bill asked for ground beef pizza tonight. I’ll make him one that’s maybe 8 inches in diameter and throw in plenty of vegetables.
I’m having Greek. It’s pretty amazing and still healthy!
This is Alton Brown’s recipe for homemade pizza dough. It took me exactly 2 ½ minutes to measure out the ingredients and my standing mixer did the rest. I don’t love kneading dough, so using my mixer takes all of the work out of it! If you remember to start it in the morning, you’ll have it ready by mid-afternoon! Nothing to it.
I like my pizza dough super thin and crispy. Alton’s original recipe calls for actually grilling it. Last time I checked, our outdoor grill had things growing in it. No, thanks.
Instead, I’m going to use a baking stone, which I use for all of my bread. It will give the pizza a nice, crispy bottom. The Semolina Flour, which you can find on Amazon, gives the crust a bit of crunch.
Several hours before dinner, prepare your dough:
Pizza Dough – Enough for 4 medium sized pizzas or 8 personal:
16 ounces (3 ¼ cups) all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 envelope instant or rapid rise yeast (this is 2 ¼ teaspoons) (also called bread machine yeast)
1 Tablespoon kosher salt (NOT table salt – they are not equivalent)
10 ounces (1 1/4 cups) warm water, approximately 105° F
2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons for bowl
1 Tablespoon malted barley syrup, room temperature (or 1 Tablespoon brown sugar, instead)
Combine the flour and yeast in the work bowl of a stand mixer. Add the salt, water, 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, and malted barley syrup. (I finally broke down and bought malted barley syrup. It turns the dough a very light brown, giving it the appearance (but not the texture) of a whole wheat dough. I’m convinced that malted barley syrup has a lot to do with the awesome results I get. Alton didn’t just pick it out of the blue.)
Start the mixer on low, using the paddle attachment, and mix until the dough just comes together, approximately 1 1/2 minutes. Now switch to the dough hook, and put your mixer on medium. Knead for 15 minutes. Of course, if you don’t have a standing mixer, you can do all of this by hand.
Fold the dough onto itself and form it into a smooth ball. Oil the bowl of the stand mixer or other large bowl with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Put the dough in the bowl and roll it around to coat with the oil. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and leave at room temperature to double in size, approximately 1 hour. (I’ve found that it takes much longer to double in size; not sure why).
Split the dough into 4 or 8 equal parts using a knife or bench scraper. Flatten each piece into a disk on the countertop. Form each piece into a ball. Roll each ball on the counter until they tighten into rounds. Cover the balls with a tea towel and rest for 45 minutes.
I didn’t notice the black marks on my bench scraper until I went to wash it. It sits next to another one with a black rubber handle in my kitchen drawers. That’s annoying.
After forming the pizza dough balls, preheat your oven to 500°. If you are using a baking stone, put it in now, also. Let that pizza stone get nice and hot — I leave it in there for 1/2 hour, at least! If you are only making one pizza, use the bottom rack.
Lightly flour the countertop with Semolina Flour and flatten 1 of the dough balls. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a round, rotating and stretching the dough as you go.
This dough is a very wet one, and it is very easy to use a rolling pin to get it nice and thin. It doesn’t resist you and pull back when you try to roll it, which is great. But I found that if it was too thin, it burned in those spots in mere moments, especially when cooked on the grill.
So, when rolling out the dough, stop shy of paper thin.
Line a rimless cookie sheet with parchment. Transfer your pizza round onto the parchment paper.
When your pizza is ready to go into the oven, lightly coat the top of the raw pizza round with a pastry brush dipped in garlic oil. Then take the cookie sheet to the oven, and pull out the rack with the baking stone on it. If you hold the cookie sheet toward the back of the stone and pull the pan toward you, the parchment (along with the dough) will stay on the baking stone. The parchment paper won’t burn. If you don’t have a baking stone, just put the cookie sheet, parchment, and pizza onto the rack.
After a few minutes, use a spatula and peek at the bottom of the pizza dough.
When you’ve peeked at the bottom and like how it looks, it’s ready to flip. Use a large spatula or the original cookie sheet, and slide it under the parchment paper and remove it from oven.
Remove parchment paper. Flip pizza over onto your cutting board, and brush some more olive oil onto the baked top. Transfer the pizza back to the baking stone by taking your fingers and grabbing the edges. Or you can use a large cake spatula (like this very cool one) to transfer it. This is one of the few tools I actually had to order because when I’m grilling pizza, that surface is hot! There’s no way to grab ahold of a pizza on a grill. Anyway, this awesome cake spatula I found on Amazon does the trick. But it is non-stick, so you have to be careful your pizza doesn’t land on the floor! So, slide it under the pizza and use your fingers to hold it onto the spatula, then transfer.
And if you’re a baker, you can use this large, round spatula to transfer your cakes, after decorating. You can also move the second cake layer onto the first, frosted one, without risking it breaking in half.
After a few minutes, take a peek at the bottom of the pizza. When it is nice and brown and crispy, remove it from the oven.
You can top the pizza with pizza sauce, pesto, white garlic sauce or garlic oil. If you don’t have garlic oil, you can use extra virgin olive oil with chopped garlic spread on top of it.
Then add your toppings. Tonight I spread the pizza with pesto and then lightly sprinkled Oregano over that. Then I piled up the rest of the ingredients and ended with the cheese. When the pizza is warmed through and the cheese is melted, I remove it and grate fresh parmesan over the top.
This entire process is really much, much easier than it might seem. I guarantee you, the end result is absolute heaven, if you like a thin-crust, crisp pizza dough. For heating up the next day, I have tried every method I can think of to reheat it and, although it’s still very yummy, it doesn’t retain its crispiness. Bummer.
Since it’s only the two of us, we only use 2 of the 8 pizza balls and, even with that, we always have leftovers. I simply take the other 6 balls of dough, flatten them with my hands, and wrap them well in cling wrap. Then I lay them in a flat layer in a large freezer bag, and put them in the freezer. The frozen pizza balls thaw very quickly, and you can grab as many as you’ll need for dinner and be ready when you get home after a day at the beach. Or at work. You get it.
Pizza dough, rolled out on Semolina Flour
Italian Cheese Blend, shredded
Sliced chicken, sprinkled with oregano, salt and pepper, sautéed in extra virgin olive oil, then tossed in pesto – you want to slightly undercook it because it will be going back into a 500° oven!
Bell peppers, thinly sliced
Artichoke hearts, cut into bite-sized pieces
Kalamata olives, sliced (check for pits!)
Fresh spinach, finely chopped
Sweet onion, finely chopped
Freshly grated parmesan
Semolina Flour, for rolling out pizza
When you’re taking your feta out of the fridge, make sure the lid is on tight. Mine just opened up and landed all over the kitchen floor. Sigh.
Anyway, I hope you try this!
Cheers – Vicky