[Note from the editors: Chelsea is one of our new contributors; her vegan recipes are often photographed in beautiful quality and color on her Instagram account. She is taking over our Thirsty Thursday feature to showcase her recipes each week.]
Between the months of November and March, I plunge into what seems to be an annual food rut. I find that it’s easy to adopt the pattern of making hearty (and heavy) meals when the weather turns cold; the marriage of affordable ingredients and ample leftovers lead me to exhaust my recipe folder for soups, stews and chili. After a few weeks of this routine, I’m in dire need of a change and rely on fun favorites like pizza or stir fry, recipes that offer endless flavor combinations with minimal effort.
That being said, the recipe I use for pizza dough may seem a bit intimidating due to the various steps involved but it is, without a doubt, the most reliable; it makes two perfectly golden-brown crusts that are never soggy in the middle and always manage to hold up against an onslaught of crazy toppings.
1/4 cup warm water
1 envelope (or 2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
4 cups all purpose flour (or bread flour, if you have it on hand)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups cold water
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of tomato sauce (I use Newman’s Own Fra Diavolo)
1 bag of mozzarella style Daiya (or cheese of your choice)
Toppings! Go crazy, really. It will only make the pizza taste better.
- In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast and sugar. Set aside for five to ten minutes. (IT’S ALIVE! You will know your yeast has “proven” itself when a delicate foam appears on the surface of the liquid).
- While you’re waiting, mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture, cold water and oil to the dry ingredients. Gently stir until all ingredients are incorporated and a ball of dough is formed.
- Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for three to five minutes or until it is smooth. Do not overwork your dough! It will be tough and yield a chewy pizza crust.
- Place the dough in a well oiled bowl (I cheat and use PAM, shhh), cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise for one hour.
- (Gently!) punch the dough down and divide into two relatively even balls. Place back into the oiled bowl to rise for another thirty minutes.
- Pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees F and prepare your pizza stone (or baking sheet) with aluminum foil or, if handy, white cornmeal. This will prevent your crust from sticking.
- Place one piece of the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to get it ready. Using a rolling pin (or your hands, if you’re hxc), gently form the dough into a large circle. Transfer dough to your prepared stone or sheet.
- Have fun! Top your pizza with whatever you like and pop it in the oven for ten to fifteen minutes (depending on how done you like your crust). Allow your pizza to cool for five minutes before serving.
More Fun Stuff
Pizza dough can be stored in the refrigerator for three to five days if tightly sealed in plastic wrap. I’ve never tried freezing, but my Grandmother assures me it’s safe. If you don’t plan on using the second half of the dough for pizza, try your hand at homemade breadsticks.