Basic Bread and Pizza Dough
I have used this same recipe for years with excellent results. Sometimes I switch out some of the white flour for mixed grains or wheat flour. It seems to be a very forgiving recipe that allows my creative urges to work. I have discovered that making my dough early in the morning gives the dough time to get a life of its own. When I rush the process, I am always somewhat disappointed. I often just use unbleached all-purpose flour because that's what in the pantry, but bread flour will give the bread a better flavor and texture.
I cannot emphasize enough to check the date of your yeast and don't buy in large quantities unless you are a weekly or daily bread maker! Yeast does not live forever. There is an expiration date on the package.
I always double the recipe because you will never know when I'll make bread again!
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/3 cups lukewarm water...not too hot or it will murder the yeast!
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (but in reality any salt works)
- Approximately 2 3/4 cups or 1 lbs of bread flour
- sugar and water
- Stir just to blend and let it sit till foamy about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the oil and salt
- Add the flour a bit at a time making sure it is absorbed each time.
Keep the mixer running at medium speed while adding a little flour at a time until a ball forms around the hook. (turn the mixer down or off if you find flour flying about)
Now the magic of the mixer takes place while you continue to run the mixer for at least five minutes kneading the dough without the flour all over the counter top!
- Turn the ball out into a bowl that has a tad of olive oil in the bottom turning the ball over to coat all sides
- Cover with plastic wrap and sit aside either on the counter top or even in the fridge until doubled or tripled in size.
Some say that the slower method in the fridge makes a better dough, but I seldom if ever take the time to try that method. You would make the dough the day before baking if you used the fridge as a home to rise the dough. It can be left in the fridge for 2 to 3 days before baking.
Punch down the dough as it doubles and triples to get a live vibrant bread dough. You can do this several times. I love feeling the life of really good dough. You will recognize what good dough feels like once you make "bad" dough! LOL
Either place in bread pans to bake or roll out into pizza crust. I use a pizza stone to either bake the pizzas or even to make a giant double sized loaf of fabulous bread. I coat the stone with a sprinkle of corn meal and slide the dough onto the pre-heated stone from a pizza paddle that I use after also dusting that with some corn meal to keep the dough from sticking. I roll each pizza out on the paddle, put on the toppings and slide it onto the stone.
Tip: I find that spraying water into the oven sides and bottom while baking bread gets the crusty top that we all love so much.
The last time I made pizza's my guest all wanted to take home the unused dough so they could have pizza all week. Since I had made two batches, there was plenty to share. They asked me for this recipe. I figured that there may be others out there on the internet wishing they could be inspired to make their own pizzas and breads.
I love using goat cheese along with other cheeses, eggplants that I have canned covered with olive oil, roasted peppers, lots of roasted and/or fresh garlic, chicken, sausage or whatever makes very yummy pizzas. Spinach is also a nice addition. Think about how healthy you can make a pizza.
I love beer with most of my store bought pizza's, but my pizzas taste better with red wine.
I remember years ago making bread into a naked woman by forming balls and pieces. She turned out really good since she grew as the bread was rising. I coated her with beaten egg whites so she glistened like the heavenly body she was! You could do this with your dough and make a cupid for Valentines Day or just a heart shaped loaf of bread for someone you love.
Bread making can be fun and an adventure working with a life force of rising dough. It makes you appreciate the cycle of life and the warm feelings of feeding friends and family something they love.