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pizza dough questions

first off, i want to say i've never made pizza before. only ate it 1,000,000 times. ;)
i am going to visit someone in a far away country and thought it would be a nice gift to make pizza for them. i think the only pizza they have in his country is pizza hut or their own version which tastes almost nothing like italian or american pizza.
can someone give me an easy, thin to regular crusted pizza dough recipe? i read here that someone made a dough the day before and let it sit in the fridge. is this a requirement or can i make it within a few hours of eating?

OR do you think if i bought some dough from my favorite pizza shop....could it last about 10 hours on the plane without being refridgerated? then put in the fridge and made the NEXT day? can i freeze it first, then bring it on the plane? or is this idea not even possible?

thanks for your help.

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  1. It's so easy to make, I wouldn't bother trying to pack it all that way. Here's the one I've used for many years, from Evelyne Slomon's "The Pizza Book":

    1 cup warm tap water
    1 tablespoon (or 1 package) dry yeast
    3 to 3 1/2 cups flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and mix with a fork to dissolve. Add 1 cup of the flour and the salt, and stir with a wooden spoon, then add the second cup of flour and continue stirring until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl. Add another 1/2 cup of flour, then turn out onto a board where you've spread another cup of flour. Flour your hands and then knead the dough, which will pick up more flour a little at a time. You want it to be smooth and pliable, not too stiff. Put the dough into an oiled bowl to rise for half an hour to an hour. (You could do all this hours ahead and refrigerate it until time to make the pizza. When you're ready, you can pat it or roll it out. After adding your toppings, bake it in a really hot oven (500 degrees if possible) for around 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the toppings are bubbly.

    You can vary the types of flour you use for this, but always start with about 2 cups of all purpose flour or bread flour, and then use whole wheat, semolina, or other flours for the rest. I like to sprinkle a little semolina or fine cornmeal on the greased pan before I put the dough down to bake. You can also add finely chopped herbs to the dough.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kittyfood

      not so sure i can find bread flour there...
      is it okay if i use ALL all purpose? does all purpose/bread flour combo come out with a better final product? if so, i have no problem bringing a few cups of bread flour in my suitcase.

      i guess i could bring other flours because i am already going to bring mozzarella and parmesan. ;)

    2. That's a really nice thing to do -- the gift of pizza! I think trying to travel with the dough sounds way too complex. The above recipe sounds good -- I'm a big believer in letting the dough rest overnight in the fridge, I think it improves on both taste and texture, but if it's inconvenient I'd skip it. If you DO make the dough and leave it overnight, use less yeast, maybe half the amount. And the one thing that will improve any dough recipe is to allow the dough to rest for 10-15 minutes, covered, right after you've incorporated all the flour. This allows the flour to fully absorb the liquid and will make kneading easier and improve the final product.

      Enjoy! Pizza is very forgiving as far as making bread goes -- even if it's not perfect, it will be really good, and much better than anything from a Pizza Hut.

      1. Good pizza is all about the oven. Unless you can carry a pretty heavy/thick pizza stone with you or your friend has access to a wood burning (or coal burning) oven... you're looking at a vastly inferior product.

        Also, forming pizza dough can take some practice. I'm not talking about tossing it in the air, just your basic hand stretching technique. If you're a quick learner, I think you could probably get the basics down over the period of a month, making pizza maybe a half dozen times, but that would be quick! And the dough recipe would have to be perfect/would have to use the right flour. I spent about a year and a half trying to stretch inferior King Arthur bread flour based doughs, only to have to completely relearn the technique once I changed to a decent flour.

        I hate to say it, but if you cut these two corners by rolling out the pizza with a rolling pin and baking it on a cookie sheet in a regular oven, the quality of the end result will probably be comparable to pizza hut.

        I think your intentions are noble, but unless you plan on putting in some time working out the logistics and practicing... your quest might be a bit too optimistic.

        1 Reply
        1. re: scott123

          i understand what you're saying...i prefer wood oven pizza too! but i'm not looking for di fara's here. just a basic, quality pizza dough to make as a gift to friends in a third world country. these people have never had anything above pizza hut so whatever i make, they will love.
          i guess the deciding factor here is to let it rest over night no matter what. and i'm sure i can shape a pie pretty nicely.

        2. Great pizza does take a little practice, but really good pizza isn't all that hard. I think scott is being a bit too pesimistic on your behalf, but I do agree with the notion of trying it out yourself before you travel.

          The recipe above will be just fine for the pizza dough and all purpose flour will be fine - that's what I use most of the time. Use good olive oil in the rising bowl and that will help as well. Letting it rest overnight as suggested above will make the shaping easier and develop some nice flavor

          As for baking - just make sure you use a really hi temp and a short time (like 500 degrees or more) and a mesh baking sheet if possible. If not, preheat whatever surface you use and that will help.

          Good luck

          7 Replies
          1. re: GDSinPA

            so the above recipe is good but cut half the yeast out for letting it rest over night???

            1. re: junglekitte

              I use Lydia's pizza dough recipe - it's pretty standard and I eventhough I amost always fridge it over-night, I never change anything. Actually, it never occurred to me to reduce the yeast. The fridge will slow down the yeast action.

              1. re: GDSinPA

                can you post this recipe or link me to it?

                1. re: junglekitte

                  It's in Lydia's cookbook - I could not find it online.

                  The proportions are exactly as that other recipe. 1 cup water, 1 tbs of yeast, 1 tsp salt, 3-3.5 cups flour.

                  I'll look up the exact recipe when I get home.

                  1. re: GDSinPA

                    thanks! i look forward to it if you can remember...

                    1. re: junglekitte

                      These are Lydia's ingedients:
                      1 tsp active dry yeast
                      1 cup warm H2O
                      3 cups all purpose flour - plus more as needed
                      1.5 tsp salt

                      Disolve the yeast in the water and combine the salt and flour.

                      Lydia actually uses a ceramic bowl and a wooden spoon to get started(mixing the wet and dry, then turns it out and kneeds it by hand.

                      Lately, I've been using a KitchenAid standmixer with the dough hook, and I've gotten the same results.
                      From this point, it's pretty standard dough making technique. Actually, you can see even the recipe above is standard.
                      Kneed or mix until it forms a nice smooth-ish ball. Then place it in a medium-large bowl, coat it with olive oil, cover with a towel and let it rise for 1-2 hours. Punch it down gently, divide it into smaller portions, and refridgerate for 12-24 hours.

                      Pull it out of the fridge and let it rest for 15 min before working with it. It will pull back some while you're shaping it. The idea is to stretch 2 inches and give 1 back. If it seems to pull back too much or even starts to break up, just let it rest for 15 minutes before working with it again. It doesn't need to be perfect, and it doesn't need to be round.

                      Good luck!

                      1. re: GDSinPA

                        thank you so much! ill report back when i come home :D

          2. I roll out my dough directly on a semolina-sprinkled sheet of parchment paper and place that directly on the rack in a hot oven. No problem. You get minor ridges on the bottom of the dough, but it still bakes up crispy and puffy.