Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Your Basic All-purpose dough


1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm (not hot) water
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra
3 cups flour, plus extra for the counter top

1. Proof your yeast. Dissolve the sugar into the warm water and add the yeast. Stir the yeast until it is just wet, don't over stir. Let it hang out for 5-10 minutes; it should start getting frothy and foamy. If it doesn't, get a new package of yeast because the first one is dead. (To be completely honest, I usually skip this step).

2. Prepare a large bowl for the dough to rise in. Pour about a tbsp olive oil in it and set aside.

3. Assemble the dry ingredients in a large bowl. I only add about 1/2 the flour, because I have made the mistake before of adding way too much flour and that makes your dough very tough. So I add half the flour and add more as i need/knead it.

4. By now the yeast should have proven itself to you. Add the yeast mixture and the oil to the flour and salt and stir. Add flour until you can't stir any more (you won't get very far).

5. Sprinkle some flour onto a very clean and dry counter top. Dump your dough on top of it and any flour that might have gotten stuck in your bowl. Knead it around, it likes to be beaten up. Add more flour if the dough gets sticky. You should be kneading for 5-10 minutes, until the dough is nice and stretchy.

6. Form the dough into a large ball and place in prepared bowl. Swirl it around in the oil a bit so it doesn't stick. Cover with a damp, clean kitchen towel and place in a warm dry place to rise. Go away for about an hour.

7. When you come back, the dough should have doubled in size. Make a fist with your hand and punch that dough right in the face. Go ahead, just do it. You will feel the dough deflate a little; that's ok. Turn the dough out onto the floured counter top again and knead for a couple of minutes.

8. If you are not going to use all the dough, take a knife and cut the dough in half, wrapping one half in saran wrap and freezing. If you are going to use it all, skip that step. Take the dough that will be used and put it back in the rising bowl, cover, and go away for at least 15 minutes, but an hour is better.

9. Now you can prepare whatever you want. After I have made my pizzas, bread dough, hot pockets, whatever, I tend to let the dough rise one more time, just to get that fluffy texture. This isn't totally necessary though.

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