One of the things that I missed when we first moved to Mexico was the ability to walk into any grocery store in my old stomping grounds of Bolton, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto, and buy fresh pizza dough. Bolton had/has a community of Italians and hence-forth, one could always find pizza dough wrapped up in plastic for 99 cents at the grocery store, any grocery store. When I realized that one can find fresh corn tortillas for that cheap in Mexico, but not pizza dough, I was happy and sad all at the same time.
Dear friends of ours had moved to Africa about the same time we moved to Mexico. With the internet not so reliable where they lived, we were keeping in touch, but not too often. When we did, we still spoke about food; what we were cooking, eating, had access to. It was comforting to compare notes as we were both learning new cultures and ways of living at the same time, but across the globe from each other.
I told my friend in one email of my sadness at no more homemade pizza. She told me that she had felt the same and so had started to make her own dough. “There’s no way I can make pizza dough”, I replied. My soft-spoken, kind, and lovely girlfriend firmly said “If I can make it in Ghana, you can make it in Mexico.”
Challenge accepted. Be-grudgingly.
In addition to that, our friends who live in Belize used to sell pizza and it was very popular in their town . During one visit, I watched how the dough was made and stored, ready for use. Ug, even more proof that it could be done without much difficulty. Don’t you sometimes feel annoyed when you’re trying to make an excuse not to do something and people prove you wrong? I had no choice, I now had to give it a shot.
I was very nervous to try.. I found a basic pizza dough recipe and off I went. Shock of all shocks: it was easy. And the bonus? Because it’s always 30 degrees here, anything we make with yeast rises in half the time that’s mentioned in most recipes. That means because I don’t have to wait an hour or two for my pizza dough to rise, I can sometimes make it faster than they can deliver it to me.
Try this dough, it’s basic, simple, and great for first-timers. There are other, more Italian ways to make dough, of which I will be practicing over the next few months. Our trip to Italy opened my eyes to the variety of ways that I can enjoy pizza. We had pizza all over Italy this year, pretty much every day for the month that we traveled, and I never tired of it. Pizza in Naples, Italy? Bucket list check!
Stumped for toppings? ANYTHING GOES. On of my favorites is blue cheese, bacon, red onion, and of course, mushrooms. This last addition also ensures that my children don’t ask me to share with them.
My most recent addiction is brie cheese. The first time I made it I also used a white sauce and cheese so you couldn’t see any brie. The next time it was tomato sauce and minimal cheese, and I let the brie be the star of the show.
In Toronto, we had a pizza place down the street from us that served chicken, feta, and red onion, and we still make that one. But really, pretty much anything can be thrown on top. Try different cheeses, different sauces. Sometimes I make pizza with just oil, sometimes a white garlic sauce, you can even buy jars of pre-made sauces and use that as the base. We make pizza a lot here so you may see a lot up on the blog and the other social media sites, but this is the dough I’ll always use when I want pizza and I want it fast.
Trust me, there’s no better way to cut your carbs.
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 cups (or more) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 TAB olive oil
Measure water, add yeast and stir until dissolved. Wait five minutes until frothy to make sure yeast is active.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and sugar together. Add the yeast mixture and olive oil and stir until a soft dough forms. (If the dough is too dry, add a little extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too sticky, add extra flour, 1 tablespoon at a time). Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Drizzle the inside of a clean bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough in the bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Set the bowl in a warm place, until the dough has doubled in size, about 1-2 hours. (The time it takes to double in size depends on the warmth of your room).
Punch the dough to deflate it. Form the dough a ball and cover until ready to use. If you are making earlier in the day, it can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated.
When ready to use, flour your rolling surface. Roll out to size and shape you like, making sure it doesn’t stick to the surface. Toss some cornmeal on your pizza paddle and lay dough on, so the dough does not stick to the paddle. Top as desired and bake in a preheated 425 oven for ten minutes or until golden brown.
Makes one large pizza dough.