Wednesday, January 13, 2010


The last two times I made pizza at home, I failed. Both times, the dough did not rise. My first failure disappointed me. It was New Year's Eve and I wanted to fill my belly with homemade pizza so that I could drink a lot of alcohol. My second failure just pissed me off. I had company! Romantical company. I felt like a jerk. I did manage to conjure a pizza, and it tasted good, but I still felt like a total loser. What went wrong? I'd made pizza many times before.

That is not the failure pizza. That is the pizza I am eating right now. It is delicious. The dough proofed up nicely. Then I smacked it back down and tossed it out. I can toss dough like a pro. Anyway, I have one theory about what went wrong: I used hot water instead of warm water (dough recipes call for warm water to activate the yeast), and I killed or greatly stunted the yeast. I did not stunt the yeast this time.

There's my dough ball, proofing up nicely. Once you've mixed, kneaded, and formed your dough into a ball, you should set a cloth onto it (I use an old work shirt from Pizza Express) and let it proof up. See how nice and round that is? There is gas in there! Go yeast!

There she is, almost ready. Really, you should not open the oven door and stare at your pizza while it is cooking. That lets heat out. You should be patient. You should also invest in a pizza stone if you are a serious, home pizza maker or intend to become one. The stone makes a huge difference.

Anyway, pizza at home is really easy. If you make spaghetti sauce, you can make pizza sauce (I make a cooked sauce). They're about the same. I simply make my pizza sauce hotter, saltier, and more thoroughly spiced than my spaghetti sauce. I also splash out for very nice fresh mozzarella. Don't be a cheap-o; it'll show.

basic, friggin easy pizza dough recipe

1 packet dry active yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees; that's slightly warmer than body temp)
1.5 teaspoons sugar
2.5 cups all purpose flour
1.5 - 2.0 tablespoons olive oil, aka EVO
1 whopping teaspoon of salt

1) Add yeast to warm water. Add sugar. Mix. Let stand 10 minutes until frothy.
2) Add salt to flour. Mix
3) When the yeasty water is frothy (froth means the yeast is alive), add the EVO to the mixture.
4) Dump the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix. Knead for about five minutes until your dough is smooth like a baby's butt. Then cover with a cloth and let proof at least 30 minutes.

p.s. It's actually better to make dough one day in advance, and then set the dough in the fridge. The yeast will develop more character and the dough will taste better.


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