(Disclaimer: Experienced breadmakers must simply move on. They will find it too painful to read how I mess around with the nuances of bread-making.)
Once a week, the kids ask for pizza. To save money and time (and eat a little healthier), I make my own crust.
I got the original recipe and instructions from one of the Tightwad Gazette books years ago, but have altered it to fit what works for me.
Thick and Chewy, Fast and Easy Pizza Dough
1/2 – 3/4 c. warm water
1 T. dry active yeast
1 t. sugar (for the yeast)
2 c. flour (I use half whole wheat and half white, but most kids would balk at that the first time)
1 T. vegetable oil (I use olive oil)
1/2 t. salt
(also, I double and sometimes triple this for my family of six–without needing to increase the amount of yeast–and frankly, I don’t measure any of the ingredients precisely anymore. I just toss in what looks to be about right and it turns out find almost every time. But you might not want to try that the first time.)
1. Combine 1/4 c. water with yeast and sugar. Stir to dissolve the yeast, set aside until bubbly about 5 minutes.
2. Mix flour and salt, then add the oil.
3. Stir the yeast mixture into the flour mixture, adding water until it forms a ball you can work with. I start with a wooden spoon and then switch to using my fingers to squish and mix. Knead for a few minutes (I just knead it in the bowl until it seems to be the consistency of, well, pizza dough). The original instructions said to cover with plastic wrap or another bowl and let stand for 10 minutes, but I go ahead and spread it into the pan(s) and let it do it’s mini-rise there.
4. While messing around with the toppings–chopping things up, calling the kids to help spread the sauce, and pulling out the cheese–the dough rises enough. I don’t preheat the oven. Instead, I stick the pizza(s) in the oven with it cold, and let the crusts rise a little more as the oven heats up.
5. Put all the toppings on and bake at 350 or 375 or 425˚ (I have a new oven, so I’m experimenting) 10 or 15 minutes (or until done–I lift with a spatula to see if it’s brown on the bottom as well as watch the cheese).
Voila. Thick and chewy, fast and easy. And cheap.
Note: Sometimes the crust turns out less puffy.