Making my own pizza is one of my favorite kitchen projects when I've got a night in and plenty of inspiration. I love being able to assemble pizzas with all sorts of ingredients, especially ones that are in season or are able to put to use some of the ripe fruits and vegetables in my garden.
I think my favorite pizza was one made with coarsely mashed Turkish figs, caramelized Vidalia onions, wilted arugula, and Portobello mushrooms. As you can see, the possibilities are as limitless as your appetite! Use the following recipe, and go crazy!
Vegan Pizza Dough
3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons warm water
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the warm water and yeast. Let it sit for about 10 minutes so the yeast activates.
2. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the bread flour, whole wheat flour and salt.
3. Add the water mixture and vegetable oil and stir with a large spoon until the dough comes together into a sticky ball.
4. Mix the dough. If using an electric mixer, mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds or until the dough forms into a smooth, sticky ball and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir the dough clockwise for about 2 minutes, then reverse stirring directions and stir counter-clockwise for another 2 minutes or until the dough forms into a smooth, sticky ball and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
5. Let the dough rise. If you're doing an OVERNIGHT rise, place the dough in a freezer bag, flatten it to a disk, squeeze all the excess air out and let it sit in the refrigerator from 12 hours to 3 days. Storing the dough in the refrigerator for more than 3 days isn't recommended because it can discolor. Feel free to store it in the freezer for up to one month if you need to store it longer.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and allow it to reach room temperature, about 3 hours. Due to the small amount of yeast in the dough, it will not rise significantly.
If you're doing a CONVENTIONAL rise (the quick method), coat the dough with about 1 teaspoon of olive oil, cover the mixing bowl with a plastic bag and let the dough rise for about 1 ½ hours. The dough will not gain a significant of size during this rise.
Degass the dough by pressing out any gas with open palms. Allow the dough to have another rise for about 1 ½ hours. Due to the small amount of yeast in this dough it will not rise considerably.
6. Prepare your toppings, then preheat your oven as high as it will go but not hotter than 1100F. Most come ovens have a dial that goes to 500F. When I crank my oven to its maximum temperature it registers 525F on the oven thermometer. Liberally dust a baking sheet with semolina flour. Semolina flour will inhibit the crust from sticking while baking better than any other flour due to its hardness. It's worth having in your kitchen just for this purpose if you make pizza frequently.
7. Dampen your hands with water. Pick up the ball of dough and flatten it into a disc with your hands as you rotate the dough. Position the dough so it's resting on the back of your hands and slightly pull your hands out as you rotate the dough. When you get to the point of where you think the dough might tear, place it on the baking sheet or pizza stone and pull it into formation so it's about 13 inches in diameter. Do not crimp the edges of the dough; It will create an edge for you during baking.
8. Coat the dough with a thin coat of tomato paste. I prefer tomato paste because it allows the crust to not get waterlogged and reduces the chances of a 'soupy' pizza. Add the toppings you created in Step 4 but don't overdo it; pizza is a celebration of simplicity.
9. Bake until the crust turns a deep golden color with some darker spots. At 525F this takes about 15 to 20 minutes. It's important to rotate the pizza 180 degrees halfway through the baking duration for even baking.
10. Allow the pizza to cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Store your pizza in a covered container at room temperature where it will keep for up to 3 days.