Forget ordering out for pizza. You can make homemade pizza in less than one hour. The secret to superb homemade pizza lies in the crust. It should be chewy, crisp and flavorful. For a 16-inch pizza, you'll need a pound of flour or less, along with a handful of ingredients you probably have in your pantry.
Measure It Out
A typical recipe for a 16-inch pizza crust calls for between 1 1/2 and 2 cups of flour. This amount varies slightly, depending on how stiff the dough is, as well as the brand of flour you use. Even the weather can affect the amount of flour you need. If the weather is cold or dry, you'll need less flour and more liquid; in hot, humid weather, you'll need more flour and less liquid.
Make It Stretch
If you're scraping the bottom of your flour barrel to make a pizza crust, try these suggestions to make the flour go further: use less oil and water so you need less flour. At the same time, roll the dough out slightly thinner than you normally would. Let it rise for at least 15 minutes first so it stretches easily. When you roll out the dough, dust the countertop with cornmeal instead of flour so the dough doesn't stick.
Switch It Up
You can not only replace flour with cornmeal for dusting, but you can replace some of the flour in the recipe itself. Substitute up to one-fourth of the flour for cornmeal to give the dough a chewy, grainy texture and taste. If using whole wheat flour instead of white flour, substitute one cup of whole wheat flour minus 1 tablespoon for each cup of regular white flour. Or substitute wheat germ for some of the flour: replace up to one-third of the flour in the recipe with wheat germ.
Tips for Success
Pizza dough is one of the simplest yeast doughs you can make, typically relying on only four or five ingredients. In addition to flour, you need water, oil, salt and perhaps a bit of honey or sugar. You can also add garlic powder or dried herbs to the dough for extra flavor. Allowing the dough to rise for 30 to 45 minutes improves the flavor, but this long rising isn't absolutely necessary. Even 15 minutes can make a big difference. You can store the dough overnight in the refrigerator or toss the balls of dough in plastic freezer bags and stow them in the freezer at 0 Fahrenheit for up to one month. To defrost frozen pizza dough, place it in the refrigerator overnight or set it in an oiled bowl on the countertop for 11/2 to 2 hours. Be sure to use a hot oven -- 425 to 500 degrees F -- to bake your pizza.
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