Weeknight Vegetarian: Why I Stopped Using My Kitchenaid (for pizza dough, anyway)

This week:
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Monday: Red Coconut Curry Noodles
Tuesday: Cafe Rio Salads
Wednesday: Chana masala with homemade chapati
Thursday: Brinner (lemon, goat cheese & leek frittata + potato hash + homemade frozen waffles – I tell you, the best thing to have on hand ever)
Friday: Homemade pizza with caramelized onions, fresh mozzarella, feta, roasted garlic, and other random veggies


My Kitchenaid and I are BFFs.  But we had to part ways when it came to pizza doughs.  I’ve been making all our bread for years, and almost always used the Kitchenaid.  It was fine and good and quick and we all lived happily ever after.

Until I had a friend do a bread making class for a church activity and she taught us how to hand-knead dough.  Am I the only person ever who didn’t actually know how to knead dough?  I totally thought you had to get your fingers all in there and squeeze and all kinds of business.  Um, no.  Like, not at all.  She very kindly came over to me and showed my supposed-bread-baking-self how to knead dough for real.

And you know what?  It was the softest, most tender, delicious bread ever.

I realized after that that the Kitchenaid dough hook has trouble actually kneading; once the dough is in a ball, a lot of times, it just sort of twirls it around.  This is generally fine for bread loaves (and I’ll still use it for bread fairly often), but is tricky with pizza dough.  You see, pizza dough, especially when you add whole wheat flour (like I always do), really needs to be kneaded well in order to be stretchy and pliant.  So the night after my friend taught me, I made our pizza dough by hand.  And holy heavens, it was the stretchiest, most lovely, soft dough ever on the earth and I got it so spectacularly thin.  It was amazing.

I tried doing pizza dough in the machine again recently and sure enough, it’s just not the same.  Kneading by hand only takes a few more minutes, and I pinky promise it is worth the effort.


Handmade Pizza Dough

Makes 2 thin-crust 12″ pizzas

(adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

1 1/4 cups warm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1. Combine water and yeast in large bowl. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.  Whisk well with a fork until frothy.

2. Add sugar, oil, and salt and whisk briefly to combine.  Add in the whole wheat flour (be sure to add this first!) and whisk well with the other ingredients.  Keep whisking for several minutes to build up gluten.

3. Add in AP flour and stir until mostly incorporated and shaggy.  Turn out onto a floured counter or board and begin kneading by folding the top (the side furthest from you) over by a third and gently but firmly pressing it into the dough beneath with the heel of your hand.  Rotate dough a quarter turn and repeat.  The same side of dough should continue touching the counter in order to form a nice “skin” – this should be smooth and soft.  Sprinkle more flour on your surface if the dough starts to stick (this is why we add in less AP four than the Kitchenaid version, because you end up adding more through the kneading process).  Continue doing this for 7-8 minutes, until the dough ball is smooth and slightly stretchy.

Dumped out of mixing bowl and still sort of shaggy
Pulling the top third up and over…it is shockingly difficult to take pictures of yourself kneading
Pushing it down with the heel of your hand
See that nice, smooth skin?

4. Oil or spray mixing bowl and place dough inside.  Turn to coat.  Cover tightly (plastic wrap, a lid, secured kitchen towel) and allow to rise for 2-3 hours, until doubled (in a pinch, you can place it in a 100F oven and it will be ready in 45 minutes-1 hour).

5. Preheat oven to 500F (or as hot as your oven will go) with pizza stone about 30-45 minutes before you’re ready to bake your pizzas.

6. Divide dough in half.  Press out one half, gently pulling it outwards with one hand while holding the center in place with the other, and rotating a quarter turn after each stretch.  You can also pick it up and stretch it out.  Place on a pizza paddle or cookie sheets sprinkled with cornmeal and add on your sauce and toppings.  Slide onto preheated pizza stone (or if you don’t have a stone, you can skip the cornmeal and just leave the dough on a cookie sheet), bake for 8 minutes, and delight in your amazingly chewy and delicious pizza.

See?  Streeeeetchy

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