Homemade Pizza

Pizza Dough

Makes four 12-inch pizzas. Make the night before and let it rise in the fridge so it's ready to go the next day.


Ingredients:

-2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one 1/4-ounce envelope)

-2 cups warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees)

-5 to 5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

-2 teaspoons fine sea salt

-Extra-virgin olive oil, for bowl

-toppings (sauce, cheese, meat/veggies of your choosing....see below for our favs)


Directions:

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in 3 cups flour and the salt, stirring until smooth. Stir in an additional 2 cups flour; continue adding flour (up to 1/2 cup), 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until dough comes away from bowl but is still sticky.


2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead with lightly floured hands. Start by slapping the dough onto the counter, pulling it toward you with one hand and pushing it away from you with the other. Fold the dough back over itself (use a bench scraper or a wide knife to help scrape dough from surface). Repeat until it's easier to handle, about 10 times.


3. Finish kneading normally until dough is smooth, elastic, and soft, but a little tacky, about 10 minutes.


4. Shape dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, 2 hours. Press it with your finger to see if it's done; an indent should remain.


5. Scrape dough out of the bowl onto floured surface, and cut it into 4 pieces. Shape into balls. Dust with flour, and cover with plastic. Transfer to refrigerator, let rise overnight.



When ready to bake:


6. Place a pizza stone (these range from really expensive to mine which is ~$10 from Target) on floor of a gas oven (remove racks) or bottom rack of electric oven. Preheat oven to at least 500 degrees.


7. Shape dough into a round. Holding top edge of dough round in both hands, let bottom edge touch work surface. Carefully move hands around edge to form a circle, as if turning a wheel.



Hold dough on back of your hand, letting its weight stretch it into a 12-inch round. Transfer dough to a pizza peel (or an inverted baking sheet) lightly dusted with semolina flour (I've used all-purpose flour instead and it works fine, but the bottom of the crust is floured). Press out edges using your fingers. Jerk peel; if dough sticks, lift, and dust more flour underneath.



8. This is where the toppings come in! My favorite is a blend of Martha's Oven-Dried Heirloom Tomato Pizza and Margherita pizza and for Mike, a BBQ Hawaiian Pizza.


9. For my pizza: Drizzle olive oil over pizza dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange soft mozzarella cheese evenly over olive oil. Top with tomatoes (slice and roast in the oven first until slightly dried) and basil leaves; season with salt and pepper. I like to add prosciutto to Martha's recipe and sprinkle Italian seasoning blend over the top.


10. Heat oven to broil. Align edge of peel with edge of stone. Tilt peel, jerking it gently to move pizza. When edge of pizza touches stone, quickly pull back peel to transfer pizza to stone. (Do not move pizza). Bake until crust is crisp and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove pizza from oven using peel; drizzle with additional olive oil, if desired. Slice and serve.


11. For Mike's BBQ Hawaiian Chicken Pizza: Spread your favorite BBQ sauce (we like Sweet Baby Ray's or my homemade version) over the crust. Top with chopped chicken, chopped pineapple, and sliced red onion. Cover with shredded cheese (Michael likes his cheese over his toppings; personally, I like it the other way around, but doesn't really matter) and sprinkle with Italian seasoning blend. Finish the same as above.

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