By Chef Linda
I used to buy pizza dough in the store, until I realized how much better it tastes when I make it from scratch. Sure, in a pinch, prepared pizza dough will work, but with just a few easy steps and some patience, this simple pizza dough wins any taste test, hands down. I use this recipe, slightly adapted, from Bobby Flay, because it works for me every time. There are lots of dough recipes so choose what works for you; they're all fairly similar. (You may notice that we don't call for dissolving or proofing the yeast. Instant, packaged yeast that's not close to the expiration date generally works fine without the added step of proofing, which is why isn't not mentioned here.)
If you happen to have a stand mixer, kneading the dough will be a breeze. If not, find joy in the simple pleasure of working the dough with your hands. This dough is best when prepared several hours in advance as the flavor deepens. It can also be refrigerated for several days, or frozen and thawed before use.
Simple Pizza Dough
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (use bread flour for a crispier crust), plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon organic cane sugar
1 envelope instant dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110ºF, I don’t use a thermometer, I use very warm tap water)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for oiling bowl
Lightly oil a large bowl and set aside. Attach the dough hook to your stand mixer. Combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine. While the mixer is running, add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil and knead until the dough forms into a ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a solid ball. If the dough is too dry, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead for several minutes, then shape into a smooth, firm ball.
Place dough in the oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Put it in a warm area to let it double in size, which takes about an hour. if you have the time, remove the plastic wrap, punch the dough down and let rise again for another hour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into desired sized pieces for your recipe.