I don’t know if this will become a tradition, but it made for a special end to the week.
There’s a pizza joint in town, but to be honest, it’s just the typical kind of pizza: tasty, filling, lots of cheese, but then you start feeling pretty heavy (and maybe even bad) later on. I’ve made pizza before but with Trader Joe’s ready-made pizza dough that you roll out yourself. I’ve never made my own dough before. I don’t really make bread (not counting quick breads), though I’d like to.
Long story short, I don’t have much experience when it comes to flour, yeast, rising, and kneading. Pretty much none at all.
I had a major hankering for pizza for whatever reason tonight. Since I’ve been on a roll in the kitchen this week, I thought I’d try to make dough from scratch. The sauce and toppings? That’s easy enough.
I adapted the pizza dough recipe from here.
Enough for 2 large thin-crust pizzas
- 1 1/3 c warm water (too cold and the yeast won’t activate, too hot and it’ll kill the yeast)
- 1 tbsp sugar (can use agave nectar)
- 1 packet of dry active yeast (equals 2.25-2.5 tsp)
- 3.5 c all purpose flour (I used 2 c all purpose, 1.5 c whole wheat pastry)
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 tsp total of dried Italian herbs (oregano, basil etc; optional)
In a small bowl, combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let sit for 5-10 min. You know the yeast is working if foam forms on the top. (If not, dump it out and start over–the yeast is too old or dead.)
In a larger bowl, combine the flours, salt, and herbs. Add the yeast mixture and oil. Mix quickly with a wooden spoon until all the water is taken up by the flour (it won’t be a cohesive mass at this point). Dump the dough onto a floured surface and hand knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and no longer tacky to the touch. Place dough in a bowl with a little oil until it’s coated. Cover with saran wrap and a towel, place bowl in a warm spot away from drafts for at least 1 hour or until doubled (1-2 hours).
After rising, punch down the dough a couple times then cut in half–the two balls of dough will make two large thin-crust pizzas. If you only want to make one at this time, make sure the ball is lightly coated with oil in a plastic ziploc and place it in the fridge–it should last up to 3-4 days. If it’s going to be a while until you make more pizza, put it in the freezer and it should last for about 1 month (thaw for 24 hours in the fridge before using).
Roll out dough on a floured surface, place on whatever baking apparatus you own that it fits on (pizza stone, pizza pan, baking sheet), use your fingers to slightly bulk up the edge if you want a crust. Place a thin layer of sauce, then toppings. Cook in oven at 475-500 deg F for 10-15 min (see recipe notes).
- I can’t say if my dough really doubled or not.
It might have something to do with the whole wheat pastry flour that I used.In hindsight, it had to do with the shelf-life of the yeast–it was definitely expired. The crust still turned out very well though!
- Some purists say “don’t put sugar/olive oil in the dough”. That’s okay if you don’t want to, it should still turn out fine. I haven’t tried it without yet, but I feel like the addition of both aids in the flavor of the dough.
- I placed corn meal on the bottom of the pizza pan before putting the dough on it, ground flax seed or hemp seed should work as well. I like the extra texture that it brings, not to mention it helps prevents the dough from sticking to the baking surface.
- In the future, I may try adding fresh garlic or garlic powder to the dough.
- I decided to cook the dough for 5 min first, then took it out to place the sauce and toppings on it, then back into the oven for 15 more min.
- I originally tried this recipe with the oven temp at 425 deg F; the crust turned out great but wasn’t as browned along the edge as I’d like. The next time, I tried various temps throughout the baking process: 475 deg F for 5 min to cook the dough just a bit, took it out to place on toppings, then back in at 500 deg F for 10 min; I noticed the crust looking close to done so I changed the temp to 450 deg F for the last 3 min. I think I may stick to 475 deg F in the future–though I’m sure this depends on the actual temp in your oven.
Since we’re lazy when it comes to sauce, I took the rather non-authentic route and used bottled pasta sauce. Even though I like how pizza tastes without cheese, I also made a vegan “mozzarella” sauce to go on top–it wasn’t too bad! Of course, not quite the same thing as real cheese, but hey, it was satisfying and creamy, exactly what I was going for. Oddly enough, the longer the pizza sat out, the more it started looking like dairy cheese. (If you make it, I would really recommend letting a lot of the water evaporate out during the cooking process to allow it to become thick.) For toppings, I just threw on what was in the fridge and pantry: onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, diced chickpea cutlets, kale, avocado, and nutritional yeast.
And the crust? It was great. Not soggy, not burned to a crisp. Just the right kind of vehicle for getting vegetables into my mouth.
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Want more vegan pizza inspiration?