I'm a guy who likes his pizza. And I don't mean run-of-the-mill franchise delivery. I'm a bit of an aficionado; I like simplicity and authenticity. And to get that where I live, you've gotta learn to do it yourself. Except I'm also a guy with a small kitchen, no brick-oven, no $300 stand mixer, and a very strict work-ethic (which is doing as little as possible).
I started with Alton Brown's recipe from the Good Eats episode "Flat is Beautiful" (S3E9) which, hopeful as I was, turned out to be more of a cracker than a crust, due mostly to the fact that it required the use of a power stand mixer that I don't have. Otherwise I'd have to knead the dough for like, 15 hours or so (minus the hyperbole). Regardless, most of the methods I use for making the pizza came from this episode and is definitely worth a watch as he explains his methods and techniques much more effectively than I can.
Naturally I turned to the web to see if it could provide me with an alternative to using a stand-mixer, or in fact avoid kneading altogether and the few recipes I found didn't turn out much better than the first one. But as it was turning out better and cheaper than the delivery crap I get around here, I stuck with it for a while.
Until one fateful afternoon, where I was struck either by inspiration or madness, I ventured out on my own into the wide world of dough-making and had the audacity to make a few modifications of my very own.
And against my every expectation, it turned out rather good.
Step 1: Stuff You'll Need
These are all the basic tools you'll need to make the dough, plus the specialty equipment.
1. A measuring cup that can hold ~2 cups water
2. A medium sized bowl. I have one with a snap on lid which comes in handy, but plastic wrap can take its place nicely.
3. Stirring spoon. Something sturdy, you'll be mixing the water and flour together with this
4. A whisk. Which you don't really need, but I like it because it basically sifts the flour.
5. Baking stone. A nice round one from a kitchen store works fine. Mine's an unglazed stone floor tile from a franchise hardware store. It also works fine.
6. Pizza paddle. I didn't have one when I first started, so I used a large wooden cutting board. It worked, kind of. But not nearly as well as an actual pizza paddle does.
1. Bread flour. Absolutely must be Bread flour; not AP flour and definitely not some gluten-free flour. It won't work, since you really need gluten. For best results, I'm told you should use Bread flour specifically for bread machines, as it contains the highest levels of gluten.
2. Table Salt.
3. Baking Powder.
4. White Sugar.
5. Yeast. I use Fleischmann's BreadMachine yeast. A packet of Active Dry yeast should work the same. If you use Instant yeast, you can add it directly to the flour and skip the blooming process.