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Homemade Pizza Dough

After years of buying pre-made pizza dough at the grocery store I decided to attempt pizza dough so I could add some whole wheat flour.  I have no idea why I was buying dough, this is really easy. I also have stopped using tomato sauce because it just makes your crust wet and spongy. The clean flavor of the fresh tomato is refreshing and turns pizza into a light meal that you will not regret in the morning when you step on the scale. Go crazy with toppings use the flavors you like not just traditional pizza ingredients.

2 ¼ ounce envelopes of dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

The crunchy crust is worth the effort

1 cup lukewarm water about 100 degrees

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 tbsp yellow corn meal (plus more for dusting bottom of crust)

1 ½ tsp salt

2 tablespoon olive oil

Sprinkle the yeast into ¼ cup of the warm water with the sugar and mix.  Be sure the glass bowl is large enough for the yeast to bloom (it’s going to grow a lot). Let sit for 10 minutes.

Mix the flour, corn meal, and salt in the bowl of either a mixer with bread hook or food processor with a plastic blade. Add the olive oil and the remainder of the water into the yeast mixture. Gradually mix the liquid into the dry ingredients, be careful not to over process if you are using the food processor, it can destroy the gluten in the dough. If needed add more water one tablespoon at a time to help the dough from into a ball. 

Remove from the bowl and on a flowered surface knead the dough a few times and form into a smooth ball.

Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm area, leave it to rise for about an hour until it doubles in volume. My oven has a bread proof setting that works great for this. 

Punch the dough down and knead until smooth, then allow it to rise for another hour and knead again before storing or using. To store either freeze or wrap tightly in plastic wrap in put in the refrigerator. When you remove from the fridge allow the dough to come to room temperature before you roll it out. This recipe is enough for about two 9 inch pizzas.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees with your pizza stone (if you have one) already inside the oven for at least a half hour. You can also do this on the top of a grill outside.

To roll out the dough use either your hand or rolling pin, don’t make the crust to thin. The dough is elastic feeling and may need you to work with it a bit. If it keeps springing back into shape allow to rest for 15 minutes and try again.

Have a cookie sheet nearby to place the dough on when it’s ready. Before you transfer the pizza sprinkle the cookie sheet and the top of the dough liberally with cornmeal.  Be sure to flip the rolled out dough over when you place it on the cookie sheet so the corn meal is now on the bottom of the pizza.  This will add a nice crunch to the dough and make it so you can slide the pizza off the cookie sheet and on to your heated pizza stone in the oven.!!!UPDATE!!! Here is how to use a cloth to keep your pizza from sticking to your cookie sheet or peel, I am just using a basic tea towel that is nice and clean, not a fancy pastry cloth I am still dusting it with the corn meal.

I like a three part baking process…its more work but so worth it. First drizzle the crust with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and any dry spices you want, then layer on the fresh mozzarella and other cheese, it will not take much as the cheese will spread as it heats. 

Slide on to the pizza stone and bake for about 5 minutes until the crust gets about half baked and the cheese is nice and bubbly. If the pizza gets stuck on the cookie sheet DO NOT PANIC, just do this step on the cookie sheet, and next time add more corn meal to the bottom.

Slide the hot pizza out of the oven on to the cookie sheet and add a layer of thin sliced salted tomatoes, return to the oven on the pizza stone for 3-5 more minutes until the tomatoes look like they have begun to soften, and slide back out.

Now the fun begins layer on all your favorite toppings: veggies, Italian meats, and more spices then return to the oven and pizza stone for 8-10 minutes being sure not to let it burn.

The key is not to overdo the topping, and slice all the meats and veggies into small thin slices so they cook before the crust burns.

You could make this a more traditional style pizza using tomato sauce under the cheese but I think the crust is crispier if you use the cheese then sliced fresh tomato method above.

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