ATK #20: Basic Pizza Dough

This week I found myself with a lot of flavored goat cheese from a local farmer’s market and garden fresh tomatoes from one of Justin’s coworkers. So what else was I going to do but make pizza?

I’ve never made pizza dough before. I’ve mentioned here that I’m not much of a baker. I think I inherited my fear of baking from my mother. When I told her I’d made pizza dough, she said, “That has yeast in it, doesn’t it? That’s scary. You have to keep it the right temperature and let it rise and then sometimes it doesn’t rise and I’ve always been afraid of yeast.” Don’t ask me. I assured her that yeast is better than it used to be. I don’t know if that’s true, but it seemed to calm her down.

Anyway, this recipe is written to be made in a food processor, but mine is too small for this. So I used the Kitchenaid stand mixer I snagged from my mom when she moved. (Best score!) Making the dough took longer than it would have in the processor, but otherwise went pretty smoothly. Then came the hard part: kneading the dough. The recipe calls for turning out the dough into a floured counter, but I don’t have the empty counter space and our counter is bumpy and no matter how much I clean it, I don’t trust it. So the obvious choice was to use my wooden table.

So I cleaned all the junk off the table and started cleaning it. My still-a-kitten Weasley decided he had to know what his mommy was doing to the table. He watched my movements closely and as soon as I turned my back, he jumped up on the table and walked across the clean surface. I shooed him off and sprayed it down with Lysol Food Surface Sanitizer. Naturally, he jumped up right into the wet puddle of disinfectant. After managing to wipe the table down while simultaneously holding the Weasel at bay, it was time to throw out the flour. When I ran to get the dough and turned back, the Weasel was on a chair sniffing at the flour.

Finally managing to get the dough onto the table, I kneaded as best I knew how. I only realized after I started that I didn’t really know what I was supposed to be doing, but it was too late to find the photos in the book. So I faked it. I took the dough back to the kitchen to throw it in a bowl and cover it for the rise. By the time I got this done, Weasley was up on the table in the middle of the flour, licking it. I just shook my head and let him have his fun. I was cleaning up when I heard a huge clatter and slide. When I looked around the corner at the table, Weasley was no wear in sight, but my other cat Oliver was there looking around like, “What the hell happened.” Apparently kitty paws covered in flour plus linoleum equals huge kitty power slide.

The dough rose for an hour or so. When time came to form the pizza I once again fought off the Weasel long enough to get the dough on the table and separated into three pieces for three pizzas. I flattened and stretched the dough out into a rough pizza shape. The book seems to indicate this is a crispy thin crust, but I just couldn’t get the dough stretched enough to really be thin without some areas threatening to tear. So I got it as big and round as I could get. I brushed the whole thing with olive oil and spread out the herbed goat cheese. I’d discovered this cheese was dryer than I’m used to from chevre, and that’s why I added the olive oil. Then slices of gorgeous and yummy purple tomatoes all over.

The instructions call for preheating a baking sheet (or pizza stone, but I don’t have one) for 30 minutes at 500 degrees. I transferred the pizza to the hot oven with parchment paper and it immediately started to sizzle. It only cooked for 8 minutes, but was browned and crisp on the bottom.

Goat Cheese Pizza

The finished product was AMAZING. The cheese was flavorful but subtle and the tomatoes were the star. The crust was crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. I made pizza again the next day with pesto and mozzerella and it wasn’t quite as good, but the crust may have been even better. I will definitely make this dough again.


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