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
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.
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.