A friend once told me a story about the birth of box mix for cakes. When the mixes first came out, all you had to do was add water, mix it up, and pop it in the oven. Apparently women didn’t like this because it didn’t feel enough like really baking. The manufacturer tweaked the mix to require eggs and oil, and box mixes were the runaway success we know and love today. And generally, I think box mix cakes can be pretty good, especially considering how much less effort is involved than baking a cake from scratch.
You’re probably wondering when I’m going to get to pizza dough. I swear there’s a logical bridge coming right up. Chocolate cake from scratch = lots of work. I think that perception covers a lot of stuff that we buy pre-made or whip up from a mix. Some of those things, though, are just not all that much more work to make yourself. And the from-scratch payoff is so much better. Like pizza dough. (See, I said it was all going to come together!).
I’ve always bought pre-made pizza dough, rolled it out, added my preferred ingredients, and baked it up on a pizza stone. And while the toppings are always awesome, I’ve always thought the dough itself left a little something to be desired. It was good, yes, but had kind of a weird aftertaste. My hesitation in making it from scratch: yeast. I’ve always been intimidated by it. It seems to require such mysterious chemical reactions, done just right, to turn out ok. Doesn’t it? Well, no, I guess not. Because I made pizza dough from scratch and there was not a single special thing done with the yeast. The results were so delicious. It takes a little bit more time, but barely any more effort.
Once I got the dough done, I used it to make a Lemony Zucchini Goat Cheese Pizza. It’s a great way to take advantage of the abundance of zucchini and squash at farmers’ markets in the summer, and it just tastes so fresh. You may be tempted to add flavors to this (garlic, onions, and even tomatoes came to mind for me). Don’t do it. At least not the first time–you’ll be surprised by the combination of lemon and goat cheese, plus the fresh, earthy taste of the zucchini and squash.
Anyway, back to the dough. I highly suggest you bite the bullet and give dough from scratch a shot. You won’t want to go back.
Whole wheat pizza dough
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
This makes one 12″-14″ thick crust pizza. If you prefer thin crust, you could halve the recipe (or make two pizzas)
- 3 c whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 packet dry active yeast (my packet was 1/4 oz)
- 1 c water, room temperature
- 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for coating dough
- Combine dry ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl.
- Add water and olive oil, stirring until dough begins to form a ball. It will seem like you have too much flour at this point. You don’t.
- Empty the bowl onto a lightly floured counter and knead the dough into a cohesive ball. If you find this step difficult, let it rest for a couple of minutes and try again.
- Lightly coat the ball of dough with olive oil and cover with a cotton dish towel. Allow dough to rise for about an hour and 30 minutes.
- Knead any air pockets out of your dough ball and allow it to rest for another 20-30 minutes (this is a good time to fix your pizza toppings).
- Roll out dough into desired shape and transfer to a pizza stone that’s lightly coated with cornmeal. Add toppings and bake at your oven’s highest temperature for 10-15 minutes or until toppings are cooked.
If you wanted to make flavor variations on this, you could add herbs or spices (such as oregano, garlic, basil…the options are endless) to the dough. I would add those in the beginning, when you are first mixing. Enjoy!