How To: Make Your Own Pizza Dough

Being an Italian-American Jersey girl, I've grown up making homemade pizza with my family. Please, no Jersey Shore references -- I beg of you! Coming to Texas, I certainly miss my pizza family. So when I want a taste of home, this pizza dough is the perfect solution.

Crispy and chewy when baked, this dough can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the freezer for up to a month. When you're ready to use, just defrost, let rise, and get started with your pizza creation.

The greatest thing about pizza is that once you have the dough, the possibilities are endless; anything and everything can go on this thing. Seriously, I'm pretty sure you could put chocolate-covered Brussels sprouts on it, smother it in blue cheese and I'd still love it -- anything for pizza! Just add your favorite cheese, some sort of sauce, plus whatever you have lying around the house, and you're golden.

Here's the easiest dough recipe that you can use for pizzas, calzones, pepperoni rolls, spinach bread - you name it!

Pizza Dough

• 1 packet dry active yeast (¼ oz) • 1 cup warm water • 2 tsp sugar • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour • 1 ½ tsp salt • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for coating

In a large mixing bowl, activate the yeast by mixing it with ¼ cup warm water (important - must be warm!) and 2 tsp sugar (the yeast's dinner). Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. You should be able to see and smell the yeast working - if you don't, start again with another packet.

To the activated mixture, add the flour, salt, 2 tbsp olive oil, and ¾ cup warm water. Mix until dough forms.

On a floured surface, kneed until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Add flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking.

Brush a large bowl with olive oil, add dough and cover with damp towel. Let stand at room temperature until dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours. This is enough for two pizzas or breads, so if you are freezing a portion of the dough, skip this step and do it after you defrost for use.

Once dough has doubled, you're ready to go. Punch the dough down and roll it out to fit your baking sheet or pizza pan (brushed lightly with olive oil). For a crisp crust, bake for 10-12 minutes at 500 degrees. For an even crisper crust, pre-bake for a few minutes before adding toppings.


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