Well, it’s Friday again, and that means pizza night. And if you’ve ever debated whether it’s easier to make your own pie or simply call up your neighborhood chain to deliver one to your doorstep (though one can learn a lot from the pizza delivery guy or gal), today I want to show you just how easy making your own can be. With the recipe we use, even a non-cook like Alex can make a beautiful pizza!
The recipe comes from one of my most-used cookbooks: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Remember, what we love about the recipes in this book is it allows you to make breads very quickly (i.e., without having to wait for rises and punch-downs and kneading) by making a batch of dough in bulk and storing in the fridge until it’s needed. Pizza can be made from any number of doughs, but our favorite is the Olive Oil Dough:
- 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
Mix together with your hands in a large, lidded storage container (like this) or the bowl of your stand mixer. *Note: If I were you, and your storage container is plastic, and especially if it’s #7 plastic, I would make sure it’s BPA-free. It should tell you that directly on the box or on its packaging when you bought it.*
- Add 1 cup of all-purpose flour.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 5 1/5 more cups of all-purpose flour.
Mix together in the storage container. Because it gets heavy very quickly, I use a dough whisk, but I suppose you could mix with a wooden spoon and then lightly knead the rest of the way. The point of this book, though, is to eliminate the kneading step. Or, of course, you can mix the dough with the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer just until it comes together in a ball. And then transfer it to a large, lidded storage container.
Let the dough rise. After about 2 hours (or as many as 5), you can begin using it, but if you’re not ready, transfer it at this time to the fridge and use within 14 days. This recipe makes about 4 large pizzas, so in two-weeks’ time we usually get two pizzas and two focaccias.
When you’re ready to make your pizza, preheat your oven with a baking stone inside to 525 degrees Farenheit, or as hot as you can get your oven to go comfortably, without burning the house down. This usually takes at least 20 minutes. Sprinkle the top of your bulk dough with wheat or all-purpose flour and cut or tear off a large grapefruit-ish sized piece. Incorporating a little bit of extra flour as you need to, roughly massage the dough in your hands and form it into a ball by tucking the edges under again and again. I call this “waking the dough up.”
Sprinkle a good handful of all-purpose flour on your counter top (I like to add a little semolina flour too for extra texture, but don’t worry if you don’t have this). With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough until it kind of resembles a pizza shape and is quite thin. You can experiment with your rolling style–I like to roll in an up-and-down motion, flipping and rotating the dough every so often. Sometimes I’ll even get brave and do something like this! (Haha, just kidding).
Once it’s about the size you want it (and you may have to let it rest for a couple minutes and roll again as fresh dough tends to get a bit shy and shrink up on itself), move it to the side and carefully remove your baking stone from the oven. If you have nice countertops, be sure to put down some stone or metal trivets because a baking stone that has been warming up in a 500+ degree oven will be blazing hot and could burn your countertop. Definitely not cool.
Immediately put your dough on the stone so it can start getting that crisp crust. Now you can put on your toppings! I like to use up the miscellaneous meat or veggie leftovers from the fridge, but to make our default cheese pizza, scoop 3-4 spoonfuls of a ready-made tomato sauce (we like Prego Traditional recipe) onto the middle of your dough and gently spread it around with the back of the spoon. Top with 5-7 slices of fresh mozzerella (that’s the kind that comes in a ball or sometimes a long log and feels kind of squishy). If you were adding other toppings, I recommend adding them before you put on your cheese.
Once you’re satisfied with your creation, carefully put the whole baking stone back in the oven, and let the pizza bake for about 10 minutes. Remove with a pizza peel or large spatula and let cool before slicing.
See? Nothing to it. Once you get the hang of it, assuming your dough is waiting dutifully in the fridge, it takes about half an hour to make a delicious pizza–the minimum time it would take you to order and receive a home-delivered pizza most places anyway. I hope you’ll try this recipe. Let us know how it turns out!
And while we’re on the subject, what are your favorite pizza topping combinations? Meat? Veggies? Classic cheese? Or maybe something more gourmet like arugula and proscuitto with roasted garlic? Leave a comment about the pizzas that make you say “Cowabunga!” (OR tell us who your favorite Ninja Turtle was and why. Jessalyn’s a Leonardo fan for his graceful ninja swords and mad leadership skills; Alex is attracted to Michelangelo’s awesome nunchucks. Jessalyn sees another connection: wasn’t Michelangelo also the one who was always hungry or eating??).