Basic Dough (Pizza or Bread)

December 20th, 2005 by Potato

Yield: 2-4 medium pizzas (depending on crust thickness) or 1 large loaf of bread


1 package yeast (either quick or old-fashioned: more time may be needed in the 2nd rise for old-fashioned).
1 1/2 cups water (warm to the touch, approx 30-35°C)
4 cups flour
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp sugar


    1. Add the sugar to the water and then add the yeast. Stir until dissolved, and check to see that the yeast have activated (there should be a small amount of foaming, about 30 seconds). For old-fashioned yeast, this may take up to 10 minutes. Follow the specific directions for your yeast.

    2. Add the flour one cup at a time, stirring thoroughly after each addition. Add the salt and 1 tbsp of oil along with the 1st cup of flour.

    3. On a floured surface, knead the dough. This will take 10+ minutes manually: keep going until the dough is smooth and elastic.

    4. Lightly oil the dough and bowl (the other tbsp of oil) and let rise 1 hour in a warm spot, covered with a towel or plastic wrap. The dough will approximately double in size. (This is called “proofing” or 1st rise)

    5. If only a portion of the dough will be used (such as for a pizza) separate and store the rest now. Work the dough to be used a little more, and then place onto the cooking surface (pizza pan, bread pan, etc). Let sit 5 minutes (up to 1 hour for old-fashioned yeast).

    6. Place in oven and cook. For pizza, top first and bake at 400°F until cheese is bubbling. For bread, bake at 350°F until golden brown.

A few notes on method:

Kneading is hard work. Making this recipe really is my workout for the week. You really want that dough to be well-worked: it’s the process of working it that gets the gluten proteins all strung together and is what makes it elastic. That, in turn, allows you to work with the dough to form a pizza crust (and gives it its texture).

The oven can be used as a warm spot for the first rise: turn it on to its lowest setting until you can feel it as being warm, then turn it off. Turn it back on for a few seconds to a few minutes (depending on how quickly your oven heats up) every 10-15 minutes to keep the oven warm. Remember that yeast are living organisms, if you let the oven get too hot you will kill them. You are aiming for about 30-40°C (80-100°F). It will work at room temperature, so if there is any ­doubt, simply do that (it might take a bit longer).


I like making my own pizza shells, but this is pretty rough work, even for over 4 meals worth of food over the next week. This dough came out nice and fluffy for me, but since it is a very basic recipe, there is next to no flavour or character in it (I find it’s somewhat similar to Pizza Pizza’s dough). You can add some stuff to the dough to give it some flavour (such as parsley and rosemary, or garlic and cheese). There are various ways of keeping the dough from sticking to your baking sheet: I prefer greasing it for a metal sheet, and using cornmeal for my pizza stone).

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