Growing up, there were those sweet traditions that only summer would bring. And on a stifling summer day in Louisiana, one of the greatest traditions came in the form of lunch. As a special treat for killing banana spiders, devouring honeysuckles, and kicking over crawfish holes, my grandmother would reward me with a pizza made with her homemade bread dough.
She patiently rolled out her dough and let us gently stretch it onto a pizza pan as little puffs of flour clouded the air. The homemade dough was soft and smooth except for the sweet dimples made by the impressions of my tiny fingertips around the edges. Grandma popped the pizza in the oven, and when it came out, we all breathed a sigh of delight.
I’ve met many people who long to learn how to make dough but are completely intimidated by the process. I know that not everyone had a grandmother who patiently took the intimidation factor out of making dough, so here’s a guide intended to take you step by step, the same way my grandmother once taught me. I hope to arm you with the confidence to create pizza dough any day of the week, and to even stash some in the freezer for a quick weeknight dinner. Here’s to a lovely summer, y’all!
2 cups of warm water (100 to 110º F) 4 1/2 teaspoons (2 packets) rapid-rise yeast 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the bowl 2 tablespoons kosher salt 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Preheat the oven to 200º F. Once the oven has preheated, immediately turn it off.
Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment. Gently stir to dissolve the yeast. Let the yeast sit for 5 to 10 minutes, until the whole surface of the mixture begins to get foamy.
Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and add the olive oil and salt. Slowly add in the flour: I usually add in half, let it incorporate slightly, then pour in the other half.
Increase the mixer to medium speed and mix the dough until it begins to form a ball and wrap itself around the hook, about 2 minutes.
Allow the mixer to knead the dough for another 5 to 8 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic.
Form the dough into a ball and place it into a large bowl coated with olive oil. Flip the dough a few times to get it evenly coated in the oil. Then cover the dough with a tea towel and let it rise for 1 hour in the warm oven.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down and cut it into 8 equal-sized pieces, each of which is one serving (or cut the dough in half for 2 large pizzas).
If you don't plan to use the dough immediately, you can freeze it by wrapping each piece in cling wrap and stacking the covered pieces in a gallon-sized freezer bag. When you’re ready to make pizza, take out however many individual balls you may need and let them come to room temperature for 2 to 3 hours on the counter. The dough will stay good in the freezer for 3 months.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).