Monday, June 22, 2009

Crazy simple pizza dough

According to Jared Diamond, agriculture was the worst mistake in the history of the human race. Between these two posts, one regarding pizza at an upscale LA eatery, the other about the goddess of grain, I got to thinking about agriculture. Sure, Jared, a tragedy of hierarchy for most of us, but think of the benefits for our taste buds!

Which is the long introduction to today's topic. Instant yeast has forever altered the way I perceive baking. I used to dread sprinkling yeast into warm water. What the hell is warm water anyway? I knew I was doomed. With instant yeast, however, temperature control is no longer a problem or a challenge. Measure and mix, and poof! Up inflates your dough.

Crazy simple pizza dough

(I wish I could credit the source, I copied it from a cook book onto a recipe card, without citing the original author)

3 cups flour
2 tsp instant yeast
2 tbls olive oil
2 tsp coarse salt

Combine these dry ingredients in your food processor. As it mixes gradually add one cup of water through the feed tube.

Turn dough onto a floured work surface, knead to form a smooth round ball. Put the dough in a bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rise until it doubles, 2-3 hours. Use immediately, or wrap tightly in fridge for 1-2 days. Can freeze up to a month! Defrost in a covered bowl in fridge or room temperature. Makes 3 small pizzas.

Bake at 475 degrees 13-15 minutes.

Need an off-beat topping? I love Marcella Hazan's Pizza bianca alla Romana:

Chop four anchovy filets, mix into 6 ounces shredded mozzarella, douse with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Spread over pizza crust. Shred half a cup of basil, sprinkle over cheese.
Grate a tablespoon of parmesan cheese on top. Slide onto your preheated pizza stone; bake 15-20 minutes. Salty, cheesy and wonderful.

And, yes. If you're going to the trouble of making your own pizzas, use a pizza stone. The crust is crisp and delicious, not soggy and sad.


  1. So glad to have had in your inspirations. Thanks for the mention. But about the instant yeast. I don't know. It seems so wrong. Does it really work just like regular yeast, of which, I too, fear the warm water element.

  2. Instant yeast will change your life. At least it did mine. If yeast was in the recipe, I'd keep walking. Now, no taking the temperature of the water, no proofing the yeast. This particular pizza dough was actually designed for the grill! I haven't tried that yet--

  3. Where do you get instant yeast? Is it in the refrigerator case or on the shelf or ?

    I remember my first try at baking bread, back in high school, I "killed" the yeast with hot water.

    I've always been very gentle with it since and never had another homocide occur. A friend of my mom's told me "warm water" should be warm to the touch but not so hot that it burns your inner forearm.

  4. I come to you for off-beat, or skip a beat, stuff-ing.

    btw, I do hear yeast can really change one's life. At least that's what the females tell me.

  5. Thanks for this recipe. Right now I swear by the little balls of pizza dough at Trader Joe's (I'm a whiz at throwing the pizza into the air and making it paper thin). This looks easy enough to take the place of the ready-made stuff.

  6. K:Hmmm, hot water homicide, that will definitely be in a future novel--I've found it at Lake Produce, but since I've sworn off that place (long story) I look on the flour aisle with the yeast. CP-Off beat? Great! S:Lemme know, if you try it, how it compares--

  7. I like the Trader Joe's version also. It makes a surprisingly nice crunchy crust, and I don't even have a pizza stone or anything more fancy than a flat round pan.