Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cooking Lesson: Pizza Dough

Without the pressures and furor of daily life, a cooking lesson was practically fun on vacation last week.  In fact, when I told my extended family that Genevieve and I were having cooking lessons this summer, my sister and sister-in-law wanted in, too.

So we made pizza dough together.

Following is the handout I gave them (blue text) and photos from the session. Everyone was very pleased with themselves.

Pizza Dough From Scratch

Serves 4-6

1.  In a large mixing bowl, place:

                1 cup warm water, a little warmer than room temperature

                1 Tbsp. (1 pkg.) dry instant yeast

2.  Add:

                1 Tbsp. sugar

                1 ½ tsp. salt

                2 Tbsp. oil, any kind, plus have a little more for later

                1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

3.  Use a sturdy whisk to beat everything together until there are no lumps.  This is helpful to get the yeast started and make a smooth dough.  Shake the batter off the whisk – you’re done with it.

4.  Pour on top of the batter:

                1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

                (keep a ½ cup whole wheat flour nearby – you will probably need it)

5.  With clean hands or a wooden spoon, stir the whole wheat flour into the liquidy batter.  It will be messy.  Persist.

6. Begin to knead the dough.  Fold it firmly on itself, turn the bowl or the dough slightly, and fold firmly again.  Use the heel of your hand to push down as you fold.  Do this over and over and the dough will get smoother.  If it is still pretty wet, sprinkle some of the reserved ½ cup of whole wheat flour over it.  Knead the flour in.  You can do this again, but do not exceed the extra ½ cup or you may need to add more water. The goal is for the dough to be a uniform ball that isn’t too sticky or dry/crumbly.  It could be described as satiny, shiny, smooth, and elastic.


7.  When you have kneaded the dough for 3-5 minutes, lift it up out of the bowl.  Pour a little oil in the bowl (the bowl is still a little messy and crusty – this is fine).  Put the smooth side of the dough ball down in the oil and rub the oil around the bowl and over the dough ball; the goal is to grease the bowl and the dough.  Flip over the dough ball so the smooth side is up and any pinchy ends are underneath.

8.  Make a dishtowel wet and wring it out.  Cover the bowl/dough while you assemble toppings.  The dough can rest like this for 10-20 minutes.

9.  Roll dough out with a rolling pin so that it is a ¼ or ½” thick – you can use a sprinkle of flour if you’re worried about sticking.  Fit it into baking pans (I usually lightly grease the pan).  Add a thin layer of sauce, a little grated mozzarella, some toppings, more mozzarella, and the final toppings that would like a little caramelization in the oven. 


10. Bake at 450 F for 13-20 minutes, until crust is nicely brown, cheese is melted and browning, and any toppings in view look cooked.  A smaller pizza pan will take less time than a larger one; start checking at 13 minutes and check every 2 minutes after that.  If you cut into the pizza and it is still doughy in the center, it can be put back in the oven and baked for a decent outcome.  Any leftovers reheat best in an oven.


  1. looks delicious! we are having homemade pizza tonight for our son's birthday supper. He eats at fancy restaurants often but I think he likes his momma's homemade pizza even more.

  2. We use 100% whole wheat flour, maybe I should try a little unbleached in with it, and my children tell me it's the best in the whole world. But as long as I've been making pizza crust I learned a few new tricks from this post. Thanks!! Keep up the good work.

  3. Must try this! Looks like a party!:)

  4. Sounds like another great lesson, Margo, and that last photo is so precious.

  5. Oh, you have just saved me a bundle of work - I've always proofed the yeast in its own bowl, then added it to the flour/oil mixture ... this will dramatically increase my rate of pizza-making! Be still, my heart!

    Thank you ;)

  6. Jenny_o, I have never never never proofed my yeast. If it's instant yeast (most yeast is now) and it's fresh and kept in the fridge, it never needs to be proofed. Just needs its warm liquid to get going!
    Enjoy all the new pizza horizons!

  7. Rozy, I forgot to mention in this post: we used white whole wheat flour instead of regular whole wheat. It's a little pricey as flours go, but it masquerades as white flour. I rarely make anything 100% whole wheat - I don't think I know the tricks for keeping it light and palatable.

  8. Oh my. I love the idea of putting DOUBLE toppings on. Brilliant!

  9. Zoe, to be clear, it's not double the amount of toppings, but rather a layering technique. I think there's more flavor this way when the cheese is not in a solid layer. Also, sometimes I use Parmesan or another strong cheese as one of the layers.

  10. Pizza was made and enjoyed tonight at our house using your method, and it turned out splendiferously :) So much easier, thanks again!

  11. Thank you for sharing your cooking lesson of making pizza dough.. I love how easy this one sounds..[I am going to try it].
    Looks like all the girls had fun with this lesson..


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