Sunday Night Pizza-Best Basic Dough

Sunday night is pizza night in our house-the rowdy, big kid bunch is off to youth group, the little tow head is dancing to Let it Go dressed as Elsa, the newest episode of Amazing Race is streaming over the Amazon Fire stick, and easy homemade is the order of the evening.
Pizza delivery doesn’t come to our house- we are just outside the delivery zone for our little locavore city.

So, various toppings are piled on pillowy dough and slid into a piping hot oven-20 minutes later, cheese baked golden brown, crust crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, brushed with garlic butter and sprinkled with sea salt- dinner is served!
Wonderfully basic ingredients, easily mixed by hand or Kitchen-aid- makes two 16 in round pizzas or one 16×20 rectangular- enough to feed that ravenous crew of teenagers and a little tow head or have leftovers for lunches.

Easiest Homemade Pizza Dough
Best Basic Pizza Dough

1 envelope (2 ¼ tsp.) instant yeast
1 3/4 cups warm water (90-110 degrees)
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups (22 oz.) unbleached bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 ½ tsp. kosher or sea salt
Olive oil for greasing the bowl

Tip: Can substitute one cup of whole wheat flour for one cup of white flour without affecting the final product

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.  Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and bubbles, about 5 minutes.  Add the olive oil and stir to combine.

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed.  Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms.  Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook.  Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Punch down the dough.

Heat the oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces for round pizza pans or leave in one piece for rectangular.  Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough, place on cookie sheet or pizza pan greased with olive oil or vegetable oil.  Press and stretch dough until it fits pan with slight ridge around edge for crust.  Top as desired.

Lower oven temp to 475. Place pan on bottom rack of oven.

Bake until the crust edges are brown and cheese is golden in spots, about 15-20 minutes, depending on amount and thickness of toppings.  Repeat with remaining ball of dough or freeze for later use.

*Note: This dough cooks beautifully in a cast iron skillet.  Press across bottom and up sides  of a greased, cool skillet and top as desired.  Place on stove top on medium high heat for 5 minutes to crisp crust on bottom of pizza.  Edges of dough will rise slightly around toppings.  Remove from stovetop and place in preheated oven.  Bake 10-15 minutes or until crust is done and cheese is golden brown.   Amount of dough used is equivalent to one 16 in round pizza.

Tip: Freezes well, either as dough or as prepared pizza.

Topping suggestions:
Pizza Sauce from Scratch
Creamy Chicken Pesto with Spinach and Mushrooms
Ham & Pepperoni with Peppers, Tomatoes & Black Olives
Philly Steakhouse-steak, mushrooms, peppers, onions,provolone
Ham with Red Pepper, Pineapple & Yellow Onion