Samantha’s Pizza Crust

homemadepizzaMy friend, Samantha, shared this recipe with me.  She found a similar one online, made a few changes, and fell in love with it.  I share her affinity for this pizza crust.  It’s simple, virtually foolproof and quite tasty.  The directions are kind of wordy, but I love how the originator of this recipe just kind of talks a person through the recipe, anticipating questions and clarifying the procedure.  It really is easy.  We’re making it tonight with Mexican toppings.

When I make it, I make a double batch in my stand mixer, using one crust that night and sticking one into the freezer.  We have also used this dough for calzones and breadsticks.  Delightful.

Makes 2 medium pizzas, each serving 2-3 people OR one 15″ thick-crust pizza (like pictured here).

1½ cups very warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
about 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt

You will also need:

A mixer, food processor, bread machine or really strong arm

About a Tablespoon olive oil

A large bowl

Using your food processor, you can make a perfect pizza dough in less than 5 minutes with hardly any mess in your kitchen. Of course you could also mix the dough in a heavy duty stand mixer, in a bread machine, or by hand (although the latter would be a serious workout.)

Place very warm water, yeast, and sugar in food processer and pulse once or twice to mix. While most recipes tell you to us lukewarm water when making yeast dough, I find that by the time you take hot water put it into a measuring cup and then into a food processer, it has cooled significantly. I always use water that is almost too hot to touch, and I always have great luck with this dough. Let it sit while you measure out the dry ingredients.

After 2-3 minutes you will see small bubbles forming in the liquid in the food processer, which indicates that the yeast is working. Dump in the dry ingredients and turn on the food processor. The machine will do all the work, including the kneading. After about a minute the dough should form into a ball going around in your food processer. Open the machine and take a look. If you think the dough is too wet, you can add a bit flour, but know that too wet is better than too dry, and the dough will lose some of its stickiness as it rises.

Place about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large bowl. Take the dough out of the food processer (putting a little oil on your hands will keep it from sticking) and form a ball. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to lightly coat with the olive oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft free place for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.  Then, roll out and bake.

For a crust with a perfect pizzeria taste and texture, I recommend baking on a pizza stone in a very hot oven (500-550 degrees) for about 10-12 minutes.

To make ahead…

Make several pizza crust doughs ahead and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (the dough develops an even better flavor this way). Let rise once, punch down, and store in a zipper top gallon bag in fridge until ready to use. Let dough come to room temperature before proceeding. You can also let it rise and freeze it for future use. Thaw for a couple days in the fridge or for about 4-6 hours on the counter. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.

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Chicken Alfredo Pizza

Chicken Alfredo Pizza

My oldest daughter discovered this recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, which is called Don’t Panic: Dinner’s in the Freezer by Martinez, Howell and Garcia. It’s a fun and helpful resource filled with freezer recipes. Anyway, my Rachel thought this one sounded pretty good, so we gave it a try. I will confess that we altered a few things to make it work for us; I put those changes in parentheses.

Alfredo Sauce:
¼ c. butter
scant cup heavy cream
2/3 c. freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Pizza:
1 pizza crust
10 large fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and dried (We used Swiss chard because that’s what we had.)
6 green onions, sliced (We used chives because that’s what we had.)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded (We used 2 cups of chopped dark meat chicken leftover from another recipe.)
½ lb. bacon, crumbled (Yeah, right! We used about 4 slices of crumbled bacon.)
1 c. grated mozzarella cheese (We skipped this and just used the Swiss.)
1 c. grated Swiss cheese (We used about a cup and a half.)

For sauce: Melt butter in large saucepan or skillet. Add cream and bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Add Parmesan, salt and pepper. Turn off heat under pan.

For pizza: Roll out dough to form crust. Spread alfredo sauce evenly over pizza crust. Arrange spinach leaves over sauce. Add green onions, chicken and bacon. Sprinkle cheeses over top.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes or until bubbly.

If you want to freeze it, put it on a round piece of cardboard, cover the pizza with plastic wrap, followed with heavy-duty foil. Thaw before baking as directed above.