The Country Cook: Homemade Pizza Dough

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Homemade Pizza Dough

I think one of the most soothing and relaxing things for me to do is to work with yeast dough. A few years ago I was hesitant about making anything with yeast. It was intimidating. And it seemed like a lot of work. All that kneading and waiting for stuff to rise. But I decided to conquer that fear because of my love for all things yeast-y. I'm kinda impatient. I think dough is helping me learn patience. And it's a bit of a stress reliever too. Who knew the power of dough? Now y'all know I have no problem using a store-bought pizza dough. I use it often in fact. But sometimes, when I have the time, I like to make it up from scratch. It turns an ordinary pizza night into something just a little more special. There is something so basic about handling a ball of dough and the smell of yeast.  Not sure what it is but it makes me happy. So if you're intimidated by yeast or the thought of kneading dough makes you tired just thinking about it, follow me. I'll walk you through this and pizza dough is a great place to start for beginners.

Two good rules for working with yeast that I have learned: have active yeast and knead dough until smooth and elastic. That is really the basics right there. I buy a jar of rapid rise yeast and I store it in the fridge. Doing that keeps it fresher, longer. 
3/4 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp. fast acting yeast (1 package)
1 tsp. granulated sugar
 1 1/3 cups bread flour
2/3 cups semolina flour
3/4 teaspoon table salt
3 tbsp. olive oil
cornmeal, for sprinkling on pizza pan
You'll see I have a jar of yeast up there. It says bread machine yeast, but you'll notice I'm not making this in the bread machine (although you could if you have one.) You want to get yeast that says fast-acting or rapid rise. 
They sell it in individual packets and in jars.
Also, I'm using bread flour for the dough. Why bread flour? Because it's high in gluten which is gonna give us that chewiness we like in pizza dough.
I'm also using semolina flour. This is gonna give you some texture in your dough. It is slightly grainy. If you've ever had Pizza Hut pizza, then you'll know what I'm talking about. Their dough is a combination of chewiness with a slightly grainy texture. It's a good balance for pizza dough. I really recommend this with the semolina flour but if you can't find this flour near you (I got mine at a bulk foods store) then just go with all bread flour. Bob's Red Mill makes semolina flour as well.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine your warm water with yeast and sugar.  Now when I say warm water, what I mean is turn your tap water on and let it get it really warm to the touch. Yeast likes warmth and it likes sugar to make it grow.  I just give it a little stir with my finger. Let it rest for about 5 minutes. After that time it should look like the picture below. This means the yeast has "bloomed."  Basically that just means you have good active yeast.cIf it doesn't look like this, your yeast may no longer be good.
In a medium bowl, combine your bread flour, semolina flour and salt together.
Add in olive oil and your yeast mixture once it's ready.
Give it all a good stir with a wooden or plastic spoon until combined. I've always heard that metal spoons can do weird things to yeast dough.
Put dough ball onto a floured surface and knead the dough for 2-3 minutes. It should start to come together and get smooth and elastic.
In a glass bowl, pour in a tad bit of olive oil and spread it around. Then put your dough ball in your greased bowl. At this point, you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for up to a day (it will rise a bit in the fridge) or freeze for up to 3 months.
Cover the bowl with a dampened, clean kitchen towel and stick your bowl in a warm spot to rise for about an hour (or until doubled in size). I like to warm my oven up to 175F degrees, then turn it off. Then I'll stick my bowl in there. It's a nice, warm, draft free place for the dough to rise. Just make sure if you use that technique that you are using oven-safe bowls.
Now the fun part! After your dough has risen, it'll look a bit like this. All puffy and full.
Now it's time to make pizza. Your dough ball will deflate as you start handling the dough. Preheat oven to 425F degrees.
Spray your pizza pan with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with corn meal.
 Now just start spreading your dough out into the shape of your pizza pan. You can do square or round. This dough makes one 16" round pizza or two smaller 10" thin crust pizzas.
 I like to roll my edges up so I have thicker edge on the crust. 
 This particular pizza recipe I'm using here is for the Grilled Chicken Alfredo Pizza.
Slather on all the toppings you like, then pop into the oven for about 15-17 minutes. Oven times vary so check it around the 12 minute mark to see how it is progressing.
 Take it out and dig into the yummy goodness. 
Cook's Note: If you have a bread machine, this recipe works great in one. Just put all ingredients in your bread machine (add the wet ingredients in first.) Put bread machine on dough setting and allow dough to rise. Once dough has risen, take out and continue with the rest of the recipe.



  1. Golly I'm hungry for a pizza right now! Yours looks so good!

  2. Look delicious!! I actually just made my first homemade pizza dough last just a big harder than expected, but I've never made any homemade dough before. The end result was so yummy, but not as pretty as yours! :)
    I'll have to use this recipe sometime with the semolina.

  3. Great walk through. I like to make mini pizzas with the grandkids, they get a real kick out of helping shape the pizza. Yours looks delicious.

  4. Wonderful step-by-step! I have no experience with doughs, and I love the browned edge on your pizza :)
    I have to say though, I can't get over that Fleischmann brand. Nothing is worse that "Meat-man" as a name for butter and bakery goods...

  5. Your pizza looks amazing. I've never tried making a semolina dough but I think I might have to now. Great recipe!

  6. Totally YUMMY


  7. You're making me want pizza! This looks delicious. I've not tried semolina yet, but I think it's getting added to the grocery list!

  8. Is there a way to make this dough ahead of time and then use it the next day? Can you let it rise and then refrigerate it for the night and then shape it when you are ready to use it?

  9. Denise, I would recommend making it, but not letting it rise. Just cover the ball with plastic wrap & put it in the fridge (it will still rise some overnight). If you've got a big bowl with a lid, oil that and put dough ball in there. The dough will actually have enough room to rise overnight. And then you won't have to do a warm rise when you go to use it. Hope that helps!

  10. Very very delicious looking pizza..and made from scratch even better!!! All your hard work payed made it to the top 9!!! Congrats sweetie!!!

  11. Bookmarked!! Will try this the next time I make pizzas. Congratulations on the top 9!

  12. Your dough is gorgeous, as well as the pizza. Great job. Thanks for the tutorial. Next time my hubby wants pizza, we'll try this recipe.

    Congrats on the Top 9 today!

  13. Brandie, your dough is PERFECT!!! I need to make homemade pizza soon! Hooray for the Top 9!

  14. There is something about the smell of yeast and flour...

    I'll have to try the semolina flour next time I make pizza dough. I love the idea of added crunchiness!

  15. Congratulations on the Top 9:) Thanks for the tips on working with yeast. Geri

  16. Working with yeast dough is really magical, I smile during the whole kneading process ( not kidding! ) I've never tried semolina flour, thanks for sharing, I will definitely try it now! Congrats on the Foodbuzz top 9!

  17. Brandie, I can smell this dough from Paris! Loving it and your photos of this are just too tempting as I'm looking at this before dindins on a Friday night! That last one is a killer! Bravo on Top9!

  18. I love making my own pizza dough. I have never tried it with semolina flour - definitely going to try next time!

  19. I have to admit that even though I make a lot of pizzas, I've never made my own dough. You make it look easy and your result is perfect. I guess it's time to buckle down and do it! Thanks!

  20. After making many pizza crusts, I've finally found our favorite. I used 1½ cups bread flour and ½ cup semolina because I wasn't sure of the "crunch factor". Made the dough in my bread machine on the pizza dough setting and it came out perfect. Stretched it out to make a thin crust on an 11 x 17 sheet. Recipe could be easily doubled to make a thicker crust. Baked it with toppings at 445 degrees for about 12-13 minutes. My family gobbled it up. Thanks for posting this great recipe!

  21. Hi USA Mom!! Woo Hoo! Thank you SO much for letting me know how it turned out for you. Love hearing that you used your bread machine for it too! So happy your family enjoyed it!! :)

  22. can you feeze the dough? if so, at what stage?

  23. Yep, you can freeze the dough before it rises. Just make sure you wrap it well in plastic wrap, then I would also put it in a freezer safe bag and zip it up well. When you are ready to use it, you'll need to allow time for it to come to room temperature and allow it to rise. Hope that helps!

  24. I have never made anything with yeast or bread flour. Would it be possible to make this with all purpose flour? I have just started to enjoy cooking but really have no idea what I am doing. I have made several of your dishes and they were absolutely FANTASTIC!

  25. Hi Tracy, if all you have is all-purpose then go with that. BUT, if you have a bag of bread flour (but no semolina flour) then try to use all bread flour. Bread flour brings a nice and light chewiness to pizza dough and the semolina dough adds a bit of texture which I think makes a really flavorful pizza crust. Are you a fan of Tina from Mommy's Kitchen? She has a pizza dough that is made totally from all-purpose flour and she calls it her no-fail pizza dough. Here's the link in case you want to give that a try too. :) Good luck!!

  26. one of the best tutorials i've seen! i'm feeling especially brave after this post; maybe i'll make some homemade dough after years of yeast intimidation!

  27. Thank you so much Riddlez. I really hope you love it if you try it! :)

  28. You are so inspiring with all your recipes. I was the oldest of 4 girls and my Mom didn't cook much from scratch. If it didn't come from a box or package she didn't fool with it. I love to cook and try new recipes. I will be spending lots of time here gathering ideas and recipes. Bless you!

  29. This looks like what I have been looking for.... However, I am just a bit confused about the yeast process. It was my understanding that rapid rise yeast did not need proofing . I just wanted to make sure I am to use rapid rise as I think I read 'active yeast' in your recipe as well and I became confused. I don't think they are the same. Thank you if you can clarify that for me.


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