Making pizza dough in a cold house at high  elevation

We live at 3500′ elevation and our home is around 60F so getting yeast to proof and dough to rise was a bit tricky as both apparently need warm environments to thrive.

On proofing yeast: I tried to proof active yeast in warm water on the stove after heating it up but have since discarded that and now simply add the yeast to my flour-sugar-warm water mix. 

On salt, sugar, and yeast: Supposedly salt slows down yeast activation and sugar helps it activate. In Vegan for Everybody by America’s Test Kitchen, they have you mix the flour-water-yeast first, wait 10 min, then add salt and oil. I did this and it worked fine, but had to add white flour as I kneaded the slimy dough by hand (instead of a food processor as they suggest) for those 10 minutes.

Flour: Using a mix of whole wheat and white flours can result in a drier dough, so adding a few extra TBS of water helps. I have not tried bread flour yet.Serves 2: Since I only like to make one pizza dough crust at a time, I follow Smitten Kitchen’s recipe making a 10-12″ pizza dough round by hand, changing it up by adding sugar and waiting to add in the salt. This makes a thick crunchy crust for me.

On where to place dough in a cold house: I have placed dough next to our fireplace for 4-5 hours and that worked just fine. Now I place in the oven but make sure dough is in an oven-safe dish in case it gets turned on. I learned this lesson:-(.

Rising dough after 4-5 hours in the off-oven with oven light on:My recipe and instructions are as follows:

In a dutch oven or large oven-safe pot mix together 3/4 C white flour + 3/4 C whole wheat flour, a big pinch of sugar, 3/4 tsp active dry yeast (I store in a tightly sealed mason jar in the freezer) + 1/2 C + 3 TBS warm water (not scorching) 

Mix with hands then let dough rest 10 minutes before adding 1 TBS olive oil + 1 tsp salt. 

Knead dough right in the pot 10 minutes
adding sprinkles of white flour until smooth. I knead by hand and it really does take 10 minutes.:-)

Clean out dutch oven, oil, add dough ball, cover with lid, then place in an off-oven with the oven light on.

After dough has risen, about 3-5 hours later, spread it out about a 10-12″ round and poke holes all over with a fork. I use parchment but probably is not necessary.

Set oven to 500F. Par-bake on a baking sheet 5 minutes, remove and top with homemade sauce + Daiya cheese + optional fresh spinach, then pop back in 12 more minutes (or when brown in bottom). Easy Homemade Sauce: Blend 14oz diced 🍅’s, 6oz 🍅 paste, 1 clove garlic + 2 pinches dried oregano

Now enjoy your homemade 🍕🍕:-)

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