Basics: pizza dough

I have to admit, that a lot of the baking I do is quite time consuming - such as the desem bread. For me, baking bread is sort of a hobby, not something I just do for the sake of making bread, but it's not practical to bake things that require long kneading and hours of rising time frequently. But not all bread doughs like that. This dough, which can be used for pizza, foccaciaa, calzone, and the like, is very simple to make, especially if you have a food processor. You do need to give it time to rise, but you can do this overnight in the refrigerator. Just make the dough the night before you intend to use it. The slower rising at the cool temperature seems to produce a smoother dough too.

The recipe is based on the one for Basic Pizza Dough in Julia Child's The Way To Cook, with added instructions for making the dough by hand and for refrigerator rising.

Basic pizza dough

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup of milk
  • 2 Tbs of good olive oil
  • 3 cups of high-gluten flour, such as bread flour or Zopfmehl
  • 1 tsp. salt

You can start the dough several hours before you intend to make the pizza, or just make it the day before and let it rise in the refrigerator.

Mix the yeast, water and sugar in a cup, and let proof (become foamy) in a warm place. Mix this yeast mixture with the milk.

Food processor method: put the flour and salt into the bowl. Turn the machine on and add about half of the yeast-milk mixture, then the oil. Add the rest of the yeast-milk mixture a bit at a time until the dough forms a ball around the blade. If necessary add a bit more milk, but this shouldn't be necessary. Turn the machine off, let rest for 5 minutes, then process for a few seconds more.

Hand mixing method: In a large bowl, put the flour and salt mixed together. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add half the yeast-milk mixture, and the oil. Mix with a wooden spoon. Add more of the yeast-milk mixture until the dough forms a shaggy, soft mass.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead for a few minutes until the dough is amalgamated, adjusting with more milk or flour if necessary. The dough will be sticky at first but will soon become quite smooth. Let rest for a few minutes, then knead again until smooth and soft and pliant.

If you're going to be using the dough later the same day, put the dough in a clean bowl, cover with a plate or plastic, and let rise for about 90 minutes, until more than doubled in bulk. If you intend to use this dough the next day, put it in a plastic bag, flatten the bag to get the air out, and close tightly. Put the dough in the refrigerator. The next day, the dough bag will look like a balloon. Bring it out, and let come to room temperature.

The dough is now ready to use.

Filed under:  basics bread baking favorites

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Been using this recipe for quite a while and I'm grateful for it.
Since I started using this recipe, I've started baking bread and doing all sorts of similar things.
So I just wanted to say thanks.

Hi Maki,
You have a wonderful website. Thanks for this amazing recipe - it saved my recent pizza party. I couldn't find any ready-made pizza bases, so was forced to make my own, and your recipe worked really well. I've been quite hesitant about kneading bread and using yeast, as my previous attempts have not turned out well, but your food processor method was simple to follow and mess-free.

Easy to make, this recipe hasn't failed me yet. I've made it a couple times now.. Since its only for myself, I'll divide the dough into about 4-5 portions to make personal pizzas (there's always enough left over to make cinnamon twists :) ).

I wonder if this dough is good enough to make Chinese buns. I have been wanting to make pork steam or baked buns for a while since I used to eat them all the time as a kid. But I have been looking around for a good dough recipe, so I wonder if this dough recipe would work?

Well I have a couple of recipes for steamed buns on the site, with dough specific for those - you may want to try those out instead. The formula is similar though.

Steamed buns with roast pork filling

Bunny bao

I am confused... I know my way around the kitchen and I have made this recipe twice now. Each time it comes out so gooey I add nearly a full cup of flour to it to make it so I can handle it. I notice that in your version, you add the liquid a bit at a time but the directions in her book, "The Way To Cook" are different. They indicate to add all the milk/yeast mixture at once and then the oil and even more milk if required. I get soup when I do this. I guess I will try it gradually... Sumpin' is out of whack!

It could be that just have more humid conditions than I do (or Julia did, for that matter). Just add enough liquid until you have a dough ball of the right consistency, then stop adding! There's no need to try to use up all the liquid at all, and they'll be enough yeast in the dough to make it rise.