Olive Oil Pizza Dough

I’m no chef, but homemade pizza is one of the easiest meals to improvise. You can choose just how much of the pizza you want to construct yourself, from adding extra cheese and veggies to a frozen pre-made pizza to building the whole thing from the ground up. For the days when I have time and energy to make the crust from scratch, this is my current go-to pizza crust recipe. This crust is the thick, soft kind, and gets much of its flavor from the olive oil. I originally got the recipe from  this post on Five and Spice, which is actually for orange sticky buns (also very good). I was reading the recipe and saw a side note about making it into pizza crust. One day I tried it out. I have been using it for my pizzas ever since. Actually I make it into pizza crust a lot more often than sticky rolls.

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Since the olive oil is an important flavor in this recipe, if you are an olive oil buff, you may have ideas about which particular oil is good (side note: I go to this Des Moines purveyor). If you are like me, you usually buy your yeast in packets, not jars, so measuring a teaspoon out is awkward (there are two-and-a-half teaspoons per packet). I’ve been adding most of the extra yeast with no ill effects. This recipe takes about half an hour not counting rising time (an additional hour), and makes crusts for two medium pizzas.

Olive Oil Pizza Dough

Ingredients
1¾ C warm water
1 tsp active dry yeast
2 TBS sugar
5 C flour
3 tsp salt
½ C olive oil

Directions

1. Pour yeast into warm water, let sit in a warm place until yeast has finished “blooming”.

This yeast has "bloomed." Yours should look at least this puffy, too.

This yeast has “bloomed.” Yours should look at least this puffy, too.

2. I like to put my bread in a warm oven to rise (especially in old, drafty houses), so while the yeast is working, preheat your oven to its lowest temp. Turn it off again when it is preheated, but leave the door closed to keep the heat in. You don’t want to cook the dough, just keep it warm.

3. Back to the dough: Add about 2 C flour and mix it in most of the way (it should be sort of clumpy but not kneadable yet). Then drizzle oil over dough while stirring, working the oil into the dough as you go. Add more flour, a bit at a time.

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4. You should take the dough out of the bowl and start kneading it on the counter before you’ve added quite all the flour in. Continue to add flour as you knead until the dough is soft and smooth; it should be a tiny bit sticky when you’re done. Wash out bowl and dry; put a little oil in the bottom. Put dough in oiled bowl, turn over once so the top of the dough is oiled (this keeps the top from drying out as it rises). Cover with a clean, damp tea towel and place in a warm area (such as that oven you warmed) to rise for an hour.

5. While dough is rising, prep any pizza toppings you need to make or prepare ahead of time (make sauce, rinse/chop vegetables, etc.).

6. When the dough has doubled, remove the towel and punch down the dough; turn it out onto a lightly floured counter and knead gently for a few turns. Then divide in half.

7. Preheat oven to 425ºF. If you’re baking two crusts at the same time, you may want to place the oven racks close together in the center.

8. Roll out each half to fit your pizza pan or baking sheet (or do that fancy pizza dough toss if you know how). I made square-ish pizza crusts because I don’t currently own any pizza pans, so I am using cookie sheets. Roll the dough a little larger than your pan, so you can roll up the edges for a soft outer edge. Poke the dough all over with a fork to prevent air bubbles.

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9. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes or until the crust is just barely golden on the edges. Remove from oven and top immediately with desired sauce, veggies, etc.

10. Put the full pizza back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes or until the toppings are appropriately cooked/melted/etc. (Edit) I’ve started turning the oven to Broil for this last part, and just putting the pizza in for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Higher heat + shorter time seems to work better.

 

A couple fun topping ideas:

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Edible flowers elevate any pizza from ordinary to elegant. Shown here is a veggie pizza featuring nasturtiums, which I bought at the farmers’ market but which are also pretty easy to grow yourself.

This is my favorite "adventurous" pizza: olive oil, brie, fresh peaches, fresh basil, and a balsamic vinegar reduction.

This is my favorite “adventurous” pizza: olive oil, brie, fresh peaches, fresh basil, and a balsamic vinegar reduction.

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