Many years ago, my wife found a recipe for pizza dough. At the time, I had just started moving from the dough cycle on the bread machine to doing the whole process myself. After one or two false starts (and big, doughy messes), I was making something that was great! We went from ordering pizza to preferring what comes out of our kitchen (not to say we don’t go out to Dewey’s once in a while). This recipe has been passed broadly among my friends.
I know this recipe has been successfully executed on a pizza pan, which may already be in your kitchen. However, I favor Alton Brown’s approach: I put a baking stone in the oven before preheating the oven (so the stone gets up to the desired temperature along with the oven), and build the pizza on a floured peel. My usual sequence is to shape the dough, then sauce, followed by any herbs (garlic and basil), then cheese, then other toppings.
When I put the pizza on the stone, it actually sizzles. If necessary, I use a dough blade to help loosen the dough from the peel, and, if necessary, the finished pizza from the stone. This produces a crust baked through to the center of the pie.
- In a mixing bowl, pour in water, sugar, and yeast. Stir slowly until dissolved. Let sit to “mature” for about ten minutes. A foamy head will form.
- Add the salt, olive oil, and one cup of flour. Stir to combine.
- Add the remaining flour, one cup at a time.
- Remove from bowl and knead, using a dusting of flour as required. Fold dough in half then quarters, over and over again, for about ten minutes. You can also use the hook attachment on the stand mixer (I tend to do a combination, starting with the mixer, and finishing by hand). Better to over-knead than under-knead.
- When ball no longer sticks to hands, smooth-textured, and about the size of a grapefruit, it is done. Coat with a thin coat of olive oil, and place in a large mixing bowl coated with oil. Stetch clear wrap over, and allow to rise for 60-75 minutes.
- Take dough ball and cut in half. Roll each portion into balls. Press dough ball flat to squeeze and release any air trapped inside. Form portions back into balls, smoothing the outer surface and tucking each ball into itself.
- Spray non-stick spray or olive oil into two zip lock bags. Put one dough ball into each bag. Store in the refrigerator for five to seven days.
- When ready to bake, let come to room temperature (if from the fridge). Stretch and shape, place on peel that has been dusted with flour, and add sauce, cheese, and toppings. Bake for six to ten minutes in a 450 degree oven.
There are lots of good reasons to make your own pizza. Like any home-prepared good, you know exactly what goes in it, and can control ingredient quality. Also, while most pizza places will do half-and-half toppings, you can go even more granular–my wife, daughter, and I each get a unique third of the pizza. One idea I’m saving is to cut the dough into individual pizzas, and let each person make their own. Finally, you can do fun things, such as having a heart-shaped pizza for Valentine’s Day.