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Pizza Dough

3 cups flour
1 1/3 cups warm water
1 package quick-rising yeast.
approx 1/2 tsp salt
approx 1/2 tsp sugar
approx 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
approx 1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese

Mix yeast with warm water, in seperate measuring cup, not in the
mixing bowl. You want to do this first so that the yeast has time
to "get going" before you add it to the rest of the ingredients.

Put flour, sugar, salt, cheese, and oil in bowl. There's no need
to stir yet.

Get yourself ready to mix, then add water and yeast to bowl. As
soon as you add the water you want to try to get it well mixed as
quickly as possible. Mix until all ingredients are blended. When
ingredients are mixed, dough should be sticky to the touch, but
not to runny. I then "cut" the dough at least a dozen times, with
my mixing spoon. This is (I think) what takes the place of kneading
the dough.

Let dough rise for 30-45 minutes. Rember that it needs to be both
warm and moist to rise. What I usually do is turn the oven on bake
for about 3-4 minutes (any temperature will do) then turn it OFF,
open the door for a few seconds (to let it cool down slightly) then
cover the bowl with a wet towel, and place in the oven, door closed.

After this first rising period, you should take the dough out,
lightly sprinkle it with flour to keep it from sticking to your
hands, and "punch" the dough down. This amounts to just pressing
it a little bit all around. Don't remove from bowl.

Let rise (same conditions) for another 20-35 minutes. Total rising
time should be between 45 minutes and just over an hour. It's my
opinion that the longer you let the dough rise, the better taste
it will have, but I've let it rise for only 45 minutes and had it
come out just fine. This is usually done with a 30/15 minute split
between the two rising periods.

Now, grease your pizza pan using a small amount of olive oil or
oil spray and put the dough on the pan. Dust dough with flour
again (to keep it from sticking to your hands -- as needed while
rolling) and spread it onto the pan. As long as you grease the
pan, spreading the dough should be easy. It will be pretty thin
all around. (I use a 12x24 (?) rectangular pan -- I think that
two 12" rounds will work too, but have never tried it)

Baking times are usually about 10-12 minutes in a 450 degree oven,
on the middle rack. It should be obvious when the pizza is done,
by the look of the crust (turning light brown) and the look of the
cheeze (just getting those brown cooked spots on it)

Suggested toppings: Mozzerella and pepperoni with pizza sauce.
Thinly sliced tomatoes, cheddar, onion, with a garlic and olive oil
sauce. Fresh mushrooms, motzerella, and cooked sausage, pizza
sauce.

Pizza secrets: What about thick crust pizza? Well, I'm not really
fond of thick crust pizza, but from my experience, this is what
I'd have to say: Use this recipe on a smaller pan. Use more pizza
sauce, or a pizza sauce with more water. This will cause the top
layer of the dough to cook less than the layer touching the pan.
Cook at a lower temperature, with the pizza pan on a lower rack of
the oven. All of these things will make your pizza more dough-ey.
Experiment at your own risk!

What about even crispier crust? Use a little bit less water (but
still more than 1 Cup water) in the recipe. This will give you a
drier dough. Cook the pizza on a lower rack in the oven. Experiment
at your own risk!

When rising the dough, make sure that you use a cloth towel, not
a paper towel. Paper towels just don't hold enough water to stand
up to the dryness of the oven.

If you have any great (or terrible) pizza experiences, I'd like to
know about it! Send me some e-mail: sl31@andrew.cmu.edu

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