A few years ago, I realized that plain old pizza dough (that which you make yourself, or buy in bags at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's) is the single most versatile ingredient available. Nearly anything made from yeasted dough can be made from cheap, readily available pizza dough. It's a novice (or lazy) baker's BFF.
  1. Bagels
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    Roll dough into loops, boil in salted water, top with seeds, and bake at 400 until golden brown. Split and serve with cream cheese etc.
  2. Bialys
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    The bagel's flatter, more flavorful cousin! Roll dough out into 3 inch rounds, use your thumb to make an indentation in the center. Sauté minced onion, salt, pepper, and a lot of poppyseeds in butter or oil. Spoon the filling into the indented center of the bialys and bake at 400 until golden brown.
  3. Focaccia
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    Greece a casserole pan, press the pizza dough into it, poke it all over with your fingers to make indentations, drizzle with olive oil, top with chopped garlic, rosemary, Parmesan, and some sun-dried tomatoes. Bake at 400 until golden brown on top and hollow when tapped on. Let cool slightly, then cut into squares and serve.
  4. Chinese Folded Steam Buns
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    Cut parchment paper into 3" squares and set aside. Divide a ball of dough into eight pieces. Roll each piece out so it's about 6 inches long and oblong. Dip a chopstick in a little oil, and put it in the center of a piece of dough, and fold in half, slide chopstick out. Place the folded bun on a piece of parchment. Repeat with remaining dough and parchment. Steam in a bamboo basket for 10 to 12 minutes, until buns are puffy and cooked through. Fill as desired with meat, sauce, and vegetables.
  5. Dinner Rolls
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    Divide the dough into 10 equal sized balls. Brush a round, 8 inch baking pan with butter or olive oil. Brush each ball with all of oil, and arrange in the baking pan. Top with garlic and rosemary, plus a pinch of salt. Bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.
  6. Naan
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    Roll pieces of dough out into 8 inch, oblong pieces. Cook in a dry frying pan over high heat until puffy and cooked through. Flip and cook on the other side. Brush with butter or ghee, top with minced garlic and cilantro, if desired, and serve.
  7. Empanadas
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    Roll the dough out on a floured surface, then use a drinking glass or cookie cutter to cut 4 inch circles out. Prepare some cooked ground beef or sautéed vegetables for the filling, let cool, then spoon a little bit onto each dough round. Fold the dough round in half, seal by pinching the ends, then brush with an egg beaten with a little water. Bake on a floured baking sheet at 400° for about 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.
  8. Pretzels
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    Preheat the oven to 450. Fill a large pot with about 10 cups of water, then add about half a cup of baking soda. Bring to a light boil. Meanwhile, divide the dough into 10 pieces, roll into ropes and shape into pretzels. Boil the shaped pretzels for about five seconds, then transfer to a greased baking sheet. Brush with a beaten egg mixed with water, top with coarse salt, and bake for about 15 minutes. Serve warm, with mustard.
  9. Cinnamon Rolls
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    Roll the dough out into a large rectangle. Spread with butter, and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, and a touch of salt. Roll up tightly, and slice into 1 inch rounds. Arrange the rounds in a greased baking pan, Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel, and let rise for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake at 350 until golden brown. Make a quick glaze by whisking together milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Drizzle over the top and serve warm.
  10. Monkey Bread
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    Roll dough into small balls. Melt some butter and make some cinnamon sugar with a generous pinch of salt. Grease a Bundt pan. Dip the balls one at a time into butter, and then the cinnamon sugar mixture. Sprinkle some whole pecans between the dough balls. Arrange the balls in the greased bunt pan, then bake at 350, for about 40 minutes. A thick caramel will form around the dough balls as the monkey bread bakes. Once baked, let cool slightly, then flip onto a serving platter and serve warm.
  11. Baguettes
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    On a floured surface, shape the dough into two long cylinders. Stretch until they're about 14 inches long. Transfer to a floured baking sheet, and let rise for 25 to 30 minutes. Use a sharp knife to make a few cuts on top of the loaf. Bake at 450 for 18-22 minutes, until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped. Let cool slightly, then slice and serve.
  12. Lemon Curd Doughnuts
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    Roll the dough out until it's about a half an inch thick. Use a small juice glass, or wineglass to cut 2 inch rounds. Gather the scraps and reroll until all dough has been cut. Put a dollop of lemon curd in the center of each round, then roll into a ball. Whisk together a few teaspoons of lemon curd, a quarter cup of cream cheese, the juice of one lemon, and half a cup of powdered sugar. Set aside. Fry the doughballs in hot oil until golden brown, then glaze with the cream cheese lemon mixture.
  13. Pizza dough is insanely easy to make
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    Though these all work using store-bought pizza dough, homemade pizza dough is really easy to make. Here's my recipe: http://brokeassgourmet.com/articles/the-wonders-of-pizza-dough. I also wrote a book about this: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/pizza-dough-gabi-moskowitz/1117077906 Photos are by the amazing Frankie Frankeny of San Francisco.