Basic Pizza Dough

This basic dough recipe is a perfect starting point to making your ideal pizza.  It is a very versatile dough, easy to make and freezes well if you want to have some dough on hand.  This dough can be used for a thin and crispy crust or thick and chewy, depending on your mood.  This recipe will make 2 thin crust pizzas (12" each) or 1 thick crust pizza (14").

the perfect pizza dough

Ingredients

4 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour (I prefer unbleached)

1 teaspoon salt  (kosher is fine)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 1/2 cups warm water (not boiling, you don't want to kill the yeast)

2 packages dry yeast

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

Preparation

In a small bowl add 1/2 cup of warm water to the 2 teaspoons of light brown sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Into this add the 2 packages of dry yeast and stir until this is dissolved.  Set aside for about 5 minutes while you prepare the other dry ingredients.  The mixture will become quite frothy.

Dust a surface with about 1/4 of flour, you will be kneading your pizza dough on this surface.

Into a large bowl sift 4 cups of the flour with the salt.  Make a depression in the middle of the dry ingredients and add 3 teaspoons of the olive oil and the remaining 1 cup of warm water.  After the yeast has risen for at least 5 minutes, add it to the flour mixture.

Mix all of the ingredients in the bowl with your hands until you can form a loose ball, then transfer this to the floured counter surface.  Knead the dough for about 10 minutes by pushing the dough away from you with a heel of one hand and then folding the dough back towards you.  Rotate the dough and repeat, adding flour to the surface as needed to keep the dough from sticking.  You can add more flour to the dough if it is too wet and sticky, eventually the dough will become elastic and you can form a cohesive ball with it.

Rub a large, clean bowl with olive oil and place your kneaded dough in it.  Rub the rest of the olive oil over the dough ball and place a clean towel over the bowl.  Place the bowl in dry, warm, draft-free place and let it rise for 1 1/2 hours.  Your dough is now ready to be rolled out and you can start to create your perfect pizza!