The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Random Thoughts on Making Dough

I make my pizza dough from scratch. It’s easy really. The ingredients are basic: flour, water, salt, sugar, yeast -  and a lot of kneading. I could do it the easy way. I could throw everything in my mixer and let the dough-hook form it. But I prefer to knead the dough myself. In a strange way I find it relaxing, therapeutic almost.
Making dough (2)
The first time my husband suggested that I make pizza dough, I looked at him aghast. Me, I thought,  make dough? I had never made dough in my life. We were living in St Louis at the time and I was thousands of miles away from home and from my mother’s advice. But I decided to give it a try. After all, I had seen my mum and Nanna make dough hundreds of times. How difficult could it be?
Making dough (1)
In fact, it wasn’t, and since that day I have continued to make my dough. And as I knead away with floury fingers (and nose and cheeks, usually), my thoughts chase unbidden through my head. In kneading and rolling the dough I manage to make time stand still. Because for centuries, countless women before me have gone through the same motions – maybe not to make  pizza, but definitely to make bread. Kneading and forming and shaping – my hands almost feel like they have been taken over by the gentle spirits of those that have passed before. There is a continuity about it that goes back to ancient times. The most basic of culinary arts that produces that most staple of foods: bread. In the short span of 15 to 20 minutes it feels as if life has gone full circle. I could close my eyes and instead of my  modern kitchen I could be in a rudimentary hut, hundreds of years ago. In essence, not much has changed.
Making dough (3)
Pizza Dough
7g (21/4 tsp) dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
21/2 cups plain flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons semolina or polenta
1. Combine yeast, salt, sugar and water in a small bowl. Stand, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place for 10 minutes or until mixture is foamy. Sift flour into a large bowl. Make well in centre, add yeast mixture, mix dough.
2. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. For thick pizza roll out dough to 35cm round.  For thin pizza, divide the dough in half and roll out each portion to 35cm. (At this point, I like to add dry basil or oregano to my dough to give it that extra kick.)
3. Brush a pizza tray with olive oil, sprinkle with semolina or polenta. Place dough onto tray, tuck edges under to form a rim. Top and cook according to your heart’s desire.
Making dough (4)
Recipe copied from Pizzas and Melts (The Hawthorn Series) published by Murdoch Books.


  1. My goodness Loree, to think that I have been so proud of my so-called home made pizzas with the store bought dough (true that dough is pretty good in France but still)! For shame, for shame on me! I will give the real road a try.

    And how delighted I am to see who are your newest readers. You are in for a real treat, Loree as the Hattatts are the finest couple on the blogosphere.

    Best from Arles,

  2. Hello Loree:
    We really could not begin to start making pizza dough, or any other come to that, so we hugely admire you for this. However, we do understand how such time worn tasks can be very therapeutic and do provide opportunities for thought. We used to find that with weeding borders in our gardening days!!

    And now we have just seen Heather's comment above. Don't believe a word of it!!!

    1. Oh, how I love seeing three of my favorite people building a friendship -- and on this beautiful post!

      Loree, there is so much to love about everything you have written. This makes me ache to meet you, honestly.

      Favorite line: 'my hands almost feel like they have been taken over by the gentle spirits of those that have passed before.'

      This was just such a wonderful post, dear friend.

  3. The one and only dough I ever made in my life was a big surprise. I had it done in the morning, and put it close to the radiator to rest and raise and when I came back from work it had raised so much that I couldn't see the pot anymore and the dough had spread to a giant ! I probably had put too much leaven ! Ever since I gave up baking lol !

  4. Oh I bow to those that like baking! I've not yet attempt to do anything like this before, and probably never will.

    I like how your thought going through the process of making dough!

  5. Beautifully written Loree, thanks I enjoyed that! I used to make my own too but recently have opted for the ready made, although every time we eat it, I keep telling myself maybe next time I'll give it a try again : )

  6. When I was much younger, I tried my hands at making dough, and remembered kneading the dough. It was very therapeutic to me too. Now, with the pain of arthritis, I can't no longer do this.

    I love your thoughts on connecting to the generations before us.

  7. i find bread making very therapeutic, as well, although i confess i do use the mixer now, as the kneading bothers my back. but working with the dough while shaping the loaves still gives me that relaxing feeling, as does the smell of the bread baking in the oven! (thanks for sharing your pizza dough recipe, too)

  8. It's not the first time your blog made me hungry Loree :-)


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