Friday, May 8

pizza dough (with yeast!)

Yeast makes me nervous. It's this freaky alive substance that eats and grows. Kneading makes me nervous too. Releasing the gluten...gummy...silky...stringy...chewy. I feel that these are severely subjective adjectives. Don't underdo it and don't overdo it. Then there arises (heh) the issue of all these whilly nilly bread making peoples that just whip this stuff out without overmixing or overgrowing or "killing" things. Its just that this exact chemistry with specific water temperatures, hungry fungi and strange consistency specifications makes me nervous...
We are baking! This is chemistry, people! I need times! Specific times! Measurements! Specific measurements! I'm a rule follower! I can't handle whilly nilly!
The reason there is often a specified water temperature in bread making recipes is to proof the dough to ensure it's not dead. My heroine over at Smitten Kitchen skips this step for her pizza dough and saves me the uncertainty of water temperature measuring. We'll just assume my yeast is still alive and kickin...

Pizza with Homemade Dough
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 1/2 cups flour (can replace up to half of this with whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast*
1/2 cup warm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
*If using instant yeast, use a tiny bit less
Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water, honey and olive oil, stirring mixture. Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a ball.
SmittenKitchen recommends: "If you are finding this step difficult, one of the best tricks I picked up from my bread-making class is to simply pause. Leave the dough in a lightly-floured spot, put the empty bowl upside-down on top of it and come back in 2 to 5 minutes, at which point you will find the dough a lot more lovable."
Knead it for just a minute or two. {update: this maybe what s.k. said but I found it needs to be kneaded for about 5 minutes. Or more. Knead until a piece of it stretches in your hand without breaking. Lightly oil the same rinsed mixing bowl with shortening, butter or cooking spray. Dump in the dough, turn it over so all sides are coated, cover it in plastic wrap {update: a cotton dishtowel} and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size. It's ready when two fingers pressed firmly leave an indentation and the dough does not bounce back into shape.

Dump it back on the floured counter and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the piece into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.
Sprinkle a pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal and preheat your oven to its top temperature. Roll out the pizza, toss on whatever topping and seasonings you like.

Bake it for about 10 minutes until "it’s lightly blistered and impossible to resist."
Then clean your kitchen.

I used instant yeast instead of dry active yeast. It made me nervous.

After the intensive google research I conducted to figure out the difference, I gathered that I was supposed to do a tiny bit less instant yeast. Something about 80%. Though the consensus among many random "authorities" on various bread loving message boards was that it "didn't matter." Those whilly nilly bread peoples!

All that I was really able to determine was that the instant yeast would make the dough rise faster. Naturally, the name is a give away. Thanks for nothing, whilly nilly bread people. Once I began making the dough, I read the package of instant yeast. The conversions were in grams and I didn't feel like troubling to convert grams to teaspoons. So I did a scant 3/4 t. instant yeast. My confusion began when the package said to double the water. Now that's a lot more water and a significant deviation from my original recipe. And that made me feel scared. And whilly nilly. I think I ended up adding about an additional 1/4 cup of water. It seemed "silky" and didn't break when I took a chuck and spread it out in my hands (windowpane test?). Smitten's one to two hours timeframe also was a little too whilly nilly for my taste and was merely fuel to the fire of my confusion about this whole instant yeast fiasco being faster.

I let it rise in my pantry for about an hour and 15 minutes.
I cooked it at 500 degrees.

It was good. Success!


  1. It looks like a huge success! Even with all the willy nilly suggestions! :)

  2. It DOES look good, Erin! I think you were smart to start with pizza dough. Thanks, non-whilly-nilly Erin! I love your humor!!!

  3. off to heb to buy instant yeast! eek! i'll let you know how it turns out :)

  4. it was sooooooooo delicious! thanks for your dough tutoring session this week. couldn't have attacked the yeast without it. i used half wheat & half white was a yummy change up :)

  5. When I found your adjusted pizza recipe i got SUPER excited!!!! THANK YOU this has been super fun! and yes... as a girl who loves baking yeast is VERY intimidating!

  6. just thought i'd pop in to say that I am making pizza with your yummy recipe tonight! thanks!!