The Amateur Guide to Making Pizza

How to Make Pizza Dough

This recipe will make enough dough for 1 large pizza or 2 small pizzas.

Ingredients

Make the dough

  1. First, it is important to mention that the measurements above are approximate. The most important measurement is the water, because it will determine the volume of the dough you want to make. I have found that 3/4 cup of water results in a single large pizza without fail; however, the amount of flour that goes into the water is around 2 cups - sometimes less, most of the time a little more.
  2. Combine the water, sugar, and yeast packet in a large bowl. Allow the yeast to "proof" (show that it is alive) by letting it sit for 10 minutes. If you see a tan-colored foam form at the top, you're in business. If not, go back to the store and buy some fresh yeast... there is no point in continuing.
  3. Next, add one cup of flour - and, using a whisk, large fork, or hard spatula, thoroughly combine the mixture.
  4. At this point, you may stop and let the mixture rest for a period of time. The mixture should be fairly liquid and is called poolish. The longer you let the poolish sit, the more flavor your dough will acquire. I usually am pressed for time and let it sit for half an hour or so. It is entirely optional to do so, and if you want, you can continue on to the next step.
  5. Now, add the salt and the olive oil. Continue by adding the remaining flour in small (about 1/4 cup) amounts. Incorporate each portion before continuing. It is better to ease up to the right amount of flour than to put too much in and have to add water. You will soon have to put aside the whisk or spoon and begin using your hands to knead the dough.
  6. After you have added all of the flour, the kneading begins. To knead, use your hands to fold the dough ball in half over and over. Use your palm to smash the ball together, then fold it in half and smash it together again. If the ball becomes sticky, add a little more flour. The ball should not stick to the side of the bowl, but it should not be dry and cracking, either.
  7. Once you have kneaded the dough for about 15 minutes, drizzle a little oil over it and place it in a new, clean bowl. Spread the oil over it by using your hands. Cover this bowl with plastic wrap or a wet towel, and place it in a warm place (such as an unlit oven or sunny counter top). The dough will now rise as the yeast produces carbon dioxide; this and the alcohols produced by the yeast will improve the texture, flavor, and elasticity of the dough. You will need to leave the dough in this place until it nearly doubles in size, which should be about 40 minutes to an hour.
  8. After your dough ball has doubled in size, punch it down (my favorite part) and take it out of the bowl. Pick up the ball and fold the edges underneath several times with your hands. You now have enough dough for one large (18" - 20" diameter) pizza or two small pizzas.
  9. At this point, my advice is to cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel and chill it for at least an hour in a refrigerator. You'll find that cold dough is much easier to work with. If you have time, chill the dough in the refrigerator overnight - the dough will taste much better if the yeast is allowed to ferment for a longer period of time in a cool environment.
  10. Whether or not you choose to chill the dough, the last step is to form the dough ball into a pizza crust. If you want, you can watch a video of me forming a dough ball to get an idea of what to do.