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pizza / bread dough

10 minute french bread video

I’m not a bread expert.  At one time, I had almost given up the process completely.  My dough was like cement, and my baked pizzas were as hard as cement.  Could not get past the measurements of the water to flour ratios.
The attached youtube video helped me with the motto:
“kneading doesn’t matter, measurements do not matter, go at it with reckless abandon”
This recipe is really a bunch of tips of what works for me personally, with the least amount of effort.  Tips for people who are afraid of, or have had bad experiences, making their own pizza dough.
If I can do this,  ANYONE can
If you are a pro, please skip this

bench scraper, must have tool for cleaning up flour
big bowl for dough rising
small bowl for yeast rising
plastic bag for covering rising bowl
some clean towels
bench scraper
big spoon
rolling pin (french rolling pins are nice, no squeaky handles)
2 1/2 tsps or 1 package of active dry yeast (not the self rising type or the pizza dough, or the bread machine type)
3 - 4 cups of all purpose flour, or, bread flour
1 TBL gluten (optional)
2 tsps salt
1/4 tsp sugar
as needed, warm water
as needed, olive oil or oil of choice for the bowl

Workspace and prepping:  Have a very clean, dry, somewhat open, large workspace (like a kitchen island, or a large counter).  Have a clean towel on hand, your bench scraper by your side and around 2 1/2 cups flour mixed with the gluten and salt in a big mixing bowl, set aside and ready to go.  Have around 1/2 cup flour at the edge of your workspace, on the table top, ready to be dusted and used.
Step 1:  Place the yeast into a small bowl, add the sugar, add a very small amount of warm water (not hot, warm to touch), mix with a small spoon and cover with towel for around 1/2 hour.  This doubles the yeast in volume and lets it rise, different from just proofing the yeast.  In the picture the yeast looks like dough (I learned this, letting the yeast rise tip, from my friends at Gentle and my favorite vegan cookbook: “Incredibly Delicious”.)

Step 2:  Once the yeast has doubled, pour on top of the flour mixture and add more “warm” water with a spoon until the dough is coming together, if the water is not soaking into the flour, add more until it does
Step 3:  Dust your hands and work area with the flour you have setting aside, and remove the formed mixture from the bowl, fold it over a couple times, while dusting with flour until you feel you can knead it a little without it sticking to everything.  Start kneading the dough, flipping over and pressing your palm into it, while constantly incorporating more dustings of flour until it is not sticky.  Should take around a minute or two.  I learned from the youtube video that kneading does not matter, its the form of rising (in the plastic bag, moisture i’m assuming, that forms the gluen and the dough) This will form a soft ball of dough.
Step 4:  Let the dough ball sit uncovered,  then wash your big mixing bowl with hot, warm water.  Dry the bowl and place a little olive oil in the botom of the bowl.  Transfer the dough and roll it around to cover with the oil, then cover with the plastic bag and set in a somewhat dark place for around 1 1/2 hours.  This is the first rising.  Clean up the workspace with the bench scraper and leave the flour pile to use for the 2nd rising.
Step 5:  Second rising:  after the hour and 1/2, take the dough out of the bowl and press down on it and start kneading, while incorporating flour if it is sticky, until it is getting kind of hard to knead, approx. 3-4 minutes?  Place back in bowl and turn plastic bag inside out, then let sit, again, for around 1 hour this time.  (If you are making french bread, you would form the loaves on the pan, cover, and let sit for the 2nd rising.  For this pizza, just put the dough back into the bowl).  Clean your workspace, once again.
Because Daiya vegan cheese melts, it really helps to "hold" the toppings on and keep the pizza together

Step 6:  Preheat the oven to 450 - 475 degrees, at least 1/2 hour to 40 minutes before you make the pizza.  The oven has to be very hot, this is one of the pizza making tips I learned over the years
Step 7:  When the 2nd rising is complete, dust your hands and workspace with flour, take the dough out of the bowl, press lightly into a small circle, then, using a rolling pin, roll out to the size you want.  You should be able to pick the dough up and let stretch from side to side (if you cannot stretch, don’t worry, just roll the dough out with a rolling pin or press out with your hands), then place back down and roll out and carefully place on a pizza stone or a oil sprayed baking sheet or pizza sheet.  You probably will not get a perfect circle or uniform dough, but thats the artisan way.  After time, you will get better and better at this.
Step 8:  Assemble your toppings and remember, too many heavy, water bogged toppings will affect the handling of each slice (so if using spinach, or mushrooms,  for instance, drain all the water out before placing on the dough)  Now, bake until the sides are light brown, remove, and serve.

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