Hello all. This is my first post. I found you guys about a week ago and really enjoy your site. I've read through quite a few posts hoping to find a solution to my particular probelm but haven't had any luck yet.
I love making homeade pizza. Heck I love pizza in general, everything about it. In fact it is my hope to someday own my own small pizza shop. I worked at a few different pizza places as a kid/young adult and that's where my love for pizza started. I first worked at a little locally owned shop where I learned a lot about pizza making. I then worked at Little Caesar's and basically learned all about how to make bad pizza. I then worked at a party store/deli that made pizza (although only square baker's sheet-pan style). Anyways I learned a few different ways of doing pizza which I thought helped me tremendously. However it's been many years since I worked making pizza and now that I want to make it at home I can't find the right recipe for the dough.
I've tried a number of different dough recipes but I'm not satsfied with any of them. I'm very picky about my crust and can't seem to come close to the way I really want it. I prefer a soft, chewy, yet slightly crunchy (in places) crust. Every pizza I make comes out way too dense, not at all airy or soft and almost crackery. Tonight's pie was yet another dissapointment. The toppings, sauce and cheese all tasted great but the dough was again too dense, flavorless, and stiff as a board. Here is the recipe I use for the dough, form Sara Moulton on foodnetwork.com:
1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
4 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups cold water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Yellow cornmeal, for sprinkling the baking sheet
In a bowl, combine warm water, yeast, and sugar. Stir to combine. In the food processor, combine flour and salt and pulse. Add the yeast mixture, cold water, and oil. Pulse until a ball is formed: this will happen quickly, be careful not to overwork the dough. Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for several minutes until dough is smooth. Allow dough to rest for 2 to 3 minutes. Place dough in oiled bowl and allow to rise at room temperature for about 1 hour.
Punch dough down, divide into 2 to 4 balls, let rise another 30 minutes.
Heat up pizza stone in a 500 degree F oven. Form a 10 to14-inch pizza crust and place on a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with yellow cornmeal. Place topping on the crust and place the pizza, with the parchment paper in the oven on the pizza stone or on hot inverted cookie sheet (not aluminum). Bake until golden, about 10 minutes.
The only things I do different are:
I use a KA mixer to get the dough started then change to working it by hand into a ball. I knead it after an hour, cut it in half and let it rise for another half hour. I put cornmeal on my peel and transfer it from the peel directly onto the hot stone (no parchment paper).
So with this info can anyone see anything glaring that I might be doing wrong to cause my dough to be so lifeless? Thanks for any help you can give. Sorry my first post is so long.
As an added note: I don't seem to have any luck in the stretching process with any of the recipes (the one above included) I've tried. I always loved the stretching and hand tossing and spinning of pizza dough, but these recpies I've tried won't allow me to stretch hardly at all before they will rip. Hmmm, I MUST be doing something drastically wrong.