Just made my first pizza dough today. I was inspired by a class last week where we made the French version of pizza dough. I changed the recipe around a little and it came out amazing! Would have taken pictures, but there was none left (sorry).
The basic dough recipe is in the “Recipe” section. I topped it with 1 bunch of sauteed Swiss chard, one 8 oz container of button mushrooms that I sauteed, about 3/4 pound cooked, shredded chicken, and 1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives. In the last minute of cooking I sprinkled grated Parmesan on the top. Matt was sceptical that there was no tomato sauce… but it was not missed!
According to my instructor, the kneading process is important. It is also where most people go wrong at home. They do it on a floured surface and wind up adding more flour when the dough becomes sticky. The trick is that sticky dough is good. You do not want to use a floured surface. Dough will be very sticky at first, but after all the water and yeast in incorporated and you have kneaded the ball of dough a few times, it will be much easier to handle.
Another thing to be careful of is proofing the yeast. Active dry yeast requires a short time period sitting in warm water to rehydrate and come back to life. Yeast is a living organism. Your dough is alive before you bake it (crazy huh?) The ideal temperature is about 100 degrees. Too hot and you will kill the yeast. Too cold and the process will not work.
To test the temperature of the water stick your finger in the water and it should feel neutral – like nothing really. Your body temperature is a close enough measure to work for this test. Add a bit of sugar to the water mix to feed the yeast – they will bubble a bit and smell like beer, that is how you know they are revived. This whole procedure takes only a few minutes.
My favorite part of making the dough was the kneading process. You use your fingers at first, then once you have a ball, you use the base of the palm of your hand. You press into and away from yourself, each time folding the dough over with your other hand. Every 3 or 4 kneads rotate the dough 90 degrees. This may sound technical, but it is very easy. Kind of fun. It only takes about 8 minutes, but earns a big wow factor. I encourage everyone to try. I will experiment with whole wheat dough in the future so stay tuned.