Most of my experience with yeast has been with bread machines. I do have a great recipe for no knead bread that uses yeast, but that's another blog for another time. When making pizza you add the yeast to water and once it foams, you add the flour. I discovered, through trial and error that there's a bit more to it than that. I made two kinds of dough. One was a regular, all purpose pizza dough from a recipe I found on a blog and the other was for a whole wheat pizza dough that I found in a Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine. I started off by making the all purpose pizza dough because it took longer to rise. It's a good thing I did because out of the two of them, it was the one with the correct instructions, as follows:
1 package of active dry yeast (comes out to 2 1/2 tsp)
3 cups of all purose flour
1/2 TBS honey
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup warm water (about 110 - 115 degrees)
Mix the honey and the water together. Add the yeast. Let sit for about 10 minutes, until it foams. Add salt and oil and give it a quick stir. Add 1 cup of flour and mix well. If you want to add some spices, now is the time. Add the rest of the flour. Mix together with a wooden spoon or by hand. If it's too wet, add a bit of flour (1 TBS at a time) until its dry enough. If it's too dry, add a bit of water (1 TBS at a time) until its right. Turn out onto a well floured surface and knead for a few minutes (1 -5). Form the dough into a ball and put into a large oiled bowl. Cover with a clean cloth and let it rise in a warm area until it has doubled in size (about 35 - 45 minutes). Punch down and let it rise again until it has doubled in size (about 1 - 1.5 hrs). Punch it down. Turn it onto a well floured surface and prepare your dough for pizza. I divided it up into 4 balls and made individual sized pizzas.
Now, for Martha's Whole Wheat Pizza Dough recipe.... The only issue I had with it was the instructions. The instructions only said to mix the warm water and yeast together and let it sit until foam appeared. My first batch was foamless so I tossed it and tried again thinking I had the water temperature wrong. Still no foam. Again I tossed it and tried again. No foam. By this time I figured I needed to do some research and see what the problem was. This is where the internet really comes in handy!!! Apparently the yeast needs sugar or honey to feed upon in order to create that foam. There is sugar in the ingredients for Martha's recipe, so why didn't they instruct their readers to add the sugar to the water??? Once I added the sugar...the yeast mixture foamed beautifully! Here's how the recipe goes (correctly!!)
1.5 cups warm water (110 - 115 degrees)
2 packets active dry yeast (3 tsps)
1/4 cup olive oil (I actually used 1/3 cup)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
Place water in a large bowl, mix in sugar and yeast. Let stand until foamy (about 5 - 15 minutes)
Whisk in oil and salt. Stir in flour with a wooden spoon until dough forms (I first stirred in about 1.5 cups of the flour then added the remaining flour). Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl; brush the top of the dough with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until dough as doubled in size, about 1 hour. Turn dough onto a well floured surface. With floured hands, knead until smooth, about 15 seconds. Divide into balls.
Besides the awesome flavor of a homemade pizza dough, you get to put whatever you want on your pizza. You can even make individual sized pizzas and let everyone in your household make their own, just the way they like it. I chopped and shredded everything I could think of to give my family what they wanted. There was shredded chicken, pepperoni, sliced tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, olives, onions, several kinds of cheese, sliced garlic, chopped basil, tomato sauce, alfredo sauce, pesto sauce, bbq sauce, fresh spinach. I forgot to get ham and pineapple. Guess I can't think of everything.
Sooo......the first pizza shown at the top was made by my daughters friend. She didn't want any of the more unusual stuff on it...I guess you'd call her a purest. It had tomato sauce, cheese and pepperonis. The second picture is one of my daughters makings, using the whole wheat dough. Leave it to a teenage girl to make her pizza in the shape of a heart!!! LOL. I don't like tomato sauce on my pizza. I know...how weird is that?! If you've ever eaten at a California Pizza Kitchen, you may have had something like this first one. It had alfred sauce, shredded chicken, red onions, cheese and bbq sauce on it. YUM!!! My second pizza had the alfred sauce, cheese, mushrooms, sliced garlic and spinach. Loved it!!
I loved pizza when I was a kid (what kid doesn't!) but when I stopped liking the tomato sauce on it, I lost my taste for it. With the alfredo sauce, I have re-found my love for pizza! Oh, and I prefer my crust thin.