08 May, 2013

Sun-Dried Tomato Pizza Dough

We make pizza in this house sometimes as often as once a week.  The Sprout is totally in love with pepperoni pizza.  It isn't something I take much joy in because there can be a ton of sodium nitrate in those little red dots...  But aside from that, homemade sauce, dough and soy cheese makes it a smaller mental crisis for me.

One thing I hate in the kitchen is monotony.  There are only a few ways you can mess with our Sprout's pizza without him refusing to eat it though.  There is no allowance for variation with toppings.  It is either cheese or pepperoni; nothing else.  He won't eat a green pesto sauce at all...  That doesn't leave me much wiggle room with the top of these suckers.  So, I do the next best thing....I take the crust to Yumm City!!

Sun-Dried Tomato Pizza Dough
2 c. lukewarm water
1 T. sugar OR honey
1 T. active dry OR instant yeast
1 T. salt
2 T. olive oil
5 1/2-6 c. flour
2 T. any Sun-Dried Tomato seasoning (I used Pampered Chef)
1/2 c. chopped sun-dried tomatoes, optional 

*I only add the chopped tomato if I am making this recipe for adults.  If you want to try it with children anyhow, I suggest pulsing them in a food processor to make them as SMALL as possible. 

Preheat oven to 200 F
(TURN IT OFF before you put the dough in to rise) 

Dissolve the sugar, yeast, and salt in the lukewarm water and olive oil.  Add the flour, starting with 5 1/2 cups and adding more as necessary to make a soft, smooth dough.

Knead the dough (with your hands, a mixer, or your bread machine set on the dough cycle) until it's smooth and elastic, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into two even balls, place a large piece of parchment paper on two pizza pans, then spread each ball (starting in the middle) to the edges of the pizza pans.  If you want a nice thick edge or a stuffed crust edge, make sure that you make a big enough edge to do so when you spread the dough.  (I used my Pampered Chef pizza stone for this.)  Make sure your racks in the oven are far enough apart that when the dough rises it doesn't hit the rack above it.  Let it rise for 30-45 minutes in a warm oven.

Remove the risen crusts from the oven.

Preheat your oven to 450°F and while it's heating, get out your toppings, which you've prepared aheadBrush each crust with a bit of garlic infused olive oil if you have it; spread pizza sauce lightly over the surface, sprinkle the top with grated cheese, and add your favorite toppings.

Bake the pizzas for 15 to 25 minutes, until they're golden brown, the toppings are hot and bubbly, and the cheese is melted. Remove the pizzas from the oven.

Immediately transfer pizzas to a cooling rack, so their bottoms don't get soggy. After about 10 minutes (to allow the toppings to set), slice and serve.

This is some AWESOME dough!  That beautiful thick edge could be SO interesting with some lovely things stuffed into it!  Feta stuffed olives, mozzarella cheese...the sky is the limit.  Just like what you can put on top.  Like I said, the Sprout requested pizza, this one you see was going to be pretty plain but boy, oh boy did that crust pack some flavor into it that you don't get just anywhere!  Try it with your family or friends today.  Make it your own.  

Want to have a Mexican pizza??   Put 2 T. of cumin or cayenne pepper in the dough, brush it with the garlic infused olive oil and top it with taco flavored ground meat, black beans, green pepper, black or green olives and a triple blend of taco cheeses.  Bake as directed, cool for 10 minutes, top with lettuce, shredded sharp cheddar, chopped tomatoes and dollop with sour cream and guacamole.  Drizzle with a good quality taco sauce (or you can dollop a nice picante on top).

You can do ANYthing with this crust!  I hope you love it as much as we did.      

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