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Savvy Mom: Easy Homemade Pizza Crust


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I had a dream. I wanted to make pizza at home using what was left in the fridge. I had visions of happy children gobbling down pizza topped with vegetables I rescued before they went bad.

This did not happen. My dough didn't rise, the crust was tough, and the kids turned up their noses at the "weird" toppings. What was I doing trying to make pizza at home anyway, when pizza places near us—Amici, Punch, Pizza Nea, Element—are good, cheap, and plentiful? I gave up for a while, fearing the unpredictability of yeast and what felt like a long prep time. But the dream wouldn't die. Pizza at home uses pantry ingredients, has many possible shortcuts, and barring inclusion of difficult vegetables, is more likely to be a hit with my kids than anything other than boxed mac and cheese. I had to try again.

Armed with a new batch of yeast, I found a good recipe in Cook's Illustrated. From start to finish it takes just over an hour to put pizza on the table, which is fair competition for going out, and much less expensive.

Here's the crust recipe that worked for me. What's your take on homemade pizza? Life's too short? Or do you have a great recipe that works, too?
 

Pizza Dough

Adapted from a recipe from Cook's Illustrated

1 1/3 cups warm water (about 105 degrees)
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Set oven to 200 degrees for ten minutes, then turn oven off. In food processor with metal or dough blade, add water, yeast and sugar. Pulse twice to dissolve yeast. Add remaining ingredients and process until ball forms. (If sticky, add 2 tablespoons flour and pulse. If dry, add 1 tablespoon water and pulse). Let rest 2 minutes. Process for 30 seconds.

Remove dough and knead by hand on floured surface for 1 minute or until dough is smooth (it will feel a bit tough).

Very lightly oil large bowl. Place dough in bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in warm oven. Let rise for 40 minutes or until doubled. Remove from oven, preheat oven to 500, punch down, remove from bowl and separate into two or more round pieces. Let rest for ten minutes under damp towel.

Shape: On lightly floured surface, flatten dough into disk. Gently stretch edges while holding center down, then use fingertips from center out to further thin it. Transfer to pizza peel or substitute.

Top: Spread tomato sauce to desired consistency, or simply brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with grated whole-milk mozzarella and other desired toppings.

Bake: In preheated 500 degree oven, on pizza stone, ceramic baking tiles or large cookie sheet, for about ten minutes.

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