Perfect Pizza/Calzone Dough

This pizza dough is fabulous! It is really quick and easy and tastes so wonderful.  I use it for making pizzas and calzones. It comes from the Pillsbury Complete Book of Baking (one of my top 5 favorite cookbooks).

Ingredients:

*makes 2 pizzas or 2 large calzones- please note, recipe was doubled in pictures)

2 and 1/2 to 3 cups of all-purpose flour (sometimes I replace 1 cup of the all-purpose with whole wheat flour)

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 pkg. fast-acting yeast (or 2 and 1/4 tsp)

1 cup water

2 Tbsp olive oil

Directions:

In large bowl, combine 1 and 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast; mix well.  In a small saucepan, heat water until very hot 120-130 degree.  If you don’t have a thermometer, it should be hot enough to be a bit uncomfortable on your finger but not hot enough to burn.  You don’t want the water too hot or it will kill the yeast.  Add water and olive oil to flour mixture.  Blend at low-speed until well moistened; beat 2 minutes at medium speed.  By hand (or with dough hook on stand mixer) stir in an additional 1/2 to 3/4 cups flour until dough is smooth and elastic, about 3 to 5 minutes.

On floured surface, knead in 1/4 to 1/2 cup flour until dough is smooth and elastic, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Flour amounts can really vary dramatically based so add the flour until your dough is really soft and elastic but not sticky.  It really should not stick to your hands or your board.  If it does, add more flour. 

Place in a bowl that has been sprayed with non-stick spray then flip the dough over so some of the oil is on top, keeping the dough from sticking to the plastic wrap you are about to top it with 🙂 Top with plastic wrap and a cloth towel.  Let rise in a warm place until light and doubled in size (about 30 minutes).

For pizza, place oven rack at lowest position; heat oven to 425 degrees F.  If you have a pizza stone or stoneware cookie sheet, place it in the oven to get hot. Punch down dough several times to remove air bubbles.  Divide dough in half; If you are a pro at throwing the dough up in the air to shape it, you probably are not in need of a good dough recipe, so for the rest of us, a rolling-pin works just dandy. Place dough on pizza pan (adorned with a good sprinkle of corn meal) and top with your favorite toppings. If you are using pizza stone, prepare pizza on a transferable surface like one with a good dose of flour or corn meal so you can easily transfer it to your hot stone which also should get a little sprinkle of corn meal.  Bake for 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of your toppings and your personal crispness preference.  Lift one of the edges up to see if the bottom of the crust has browned to ensure that the center is not doughy.

For Calzone, heat oven to 425 degrees F.  Punch dough down several times to remove air bubbles.  Divide dough in half.  Roll dough into a circle (doesn’t have to be perfect) on a well-floured surface. Fill one half of the circle generously with your favorite sauce and pizza toppings, leaving a good inch around the edges with no sauce or toppings .  We used pepperoni, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperjack cheese, black olives and thinly sliced green peppers.  *Tip- obviously none of us eat pizza because it’s great for our waistlines, but I do pop my pepperoni in the microwave for a quick minute on a bed of paper towels to remove most of the fat.  It takes so much of the grease that I am always sopping up with a napkin out of the pizza but does not affect the taste or texture at all.   I do this with salami too.

Fold other side over toppings to form a half-circle and crimp the edges.  Roll edges inward, toward filling one pinch of dough at a time to make a fancy fluted edge.  It really doesn’t matter too much what it looks like at this point because once it bakes, the ones that are all pretty unbaked end up looking a lot like the ones that are just pinched together.  The most important thing is to just make sure that your edges are well sealed.  Brush top with egg white and cut a few vents in the top (just deep enough to penetrate the top layer of dough). Place on a pizza pan or hot pizza stone coated with corn meal.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until nicely browned.  Top and bottom should be firm and brown.

Tip for freezing dough: To freeze 1 pizza crust, prepare as directed above.  Bake dough (with no toppings) at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes.  Cool.  Place in a moisture-proof freezer bag.  Freeze for up to 2 months.  Thaw before using and top with favorite pizza toppings.  Bake at 425 on lowest oven rack for 18-22 minutes or until crust is golden brown and toppings are thoroughly heated.

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