Every once in a while, I will devote a Saturday or Sunday as “Pizza Day,” and I will devote a good part of that day to making delicious homemade pizza. Last weekend, I went all out and made 3 kinds of pizza in one day (which, in retrospect, I do not suggest); those specific recipes will come later this week or next week.
Topping pizzas is easy, but the real trick to amazing homemade pizza is making your own dough. And honestly, it’s not as hard as you think. I promise you will need to toss this into the air 0 times. I originally got this recipe from my brother Joel (who I think got it from a cookbook but I forget), but have been making and tweaking to my tastes for years now. Feel free to make little tweaks too if you want, just know that when making dough things like sugar can affect the texture of the final product. This should be good for 3 pizzas that are about 12-14 inches in diameter
1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 T olive oil
1/2 cup cold water
3 1/3 cups all-purpose (plain) flour plus some for kneading
2 1/2 t. salt
– Put the yeast into a large mixing bowl, and gently add the warm water. Let that sit until it’s good and foamy, about 10 minutes. Make sure you have it in a spot that’s not cold (eg: don’t put it in the fridge or next to an open window on a breezy day, etc.)
– Once it’s foamy, add the olive oil, salt, and cold water and give it a nice stir.
– Whisk in the flour about 1/2 cup at a time, and mix each time until the dough is smooth. You should be able to use the whisk the entire way through.
– Make sure you have your work surface with a nice coating of flour, and start kneading the dough. It’s going to be very sticky at first, but just keep going. After about 6-7 minutes, you can try getting some of the dough of your hands by just rubbing your hands together (feel free to reincorporate those bits). Continue kneading for another 3-4 minutes (about 10 total). When you’re done and have a nice dough ball, set it on the floured surface, sprinkle a little more flour on top, and cover with a kitchen towel. Let that rest for 20 minutes.
– Turn your oven on with your pizza stone inside. I basically turn my oven as hot as it goes, which is just shy of 500 F (supposed to be higher, but the thermometer inside doesn’t lie).
– Cut your dough into three equal portions. Knead them for about 2 more minutes, and then roll each portion into a smooth tight little ball. The dough needs to rise for an hour now; if you can give up the workspace for an hour, do the same thing with a little sprinkle of flour and the towel on top. If, like me, you need that space to prep the rest of your pizza stuff (like sauce and toppings), you can put them on a platter or wood board, just make sure you put some flour down for the dough balls to sit on top of.
– EDIT: I recently had the chance to spend some time with a true Neopolitan pizzaiolo, and he suggested using 1/4 of a yeast packet and letting the dough rise for at least 8 hours (instead of 2). I have yet to try this out, but logically it makes sense: less yeast = longer rising time. You can also let your dough rise for up to 24 hours total if you’re really serious.
– Once your dough is done rising, you can roll out your pizzas one at a time. I prefer to roll one out, top it, and stick it in the oven, then move on to the next one. It ends up being a little parade of pizzas (and I only have one pizza stone, so this works best). First, press the dough down into a disc, as flat as you can. Then lift the edge and use the weight of the dough to start stretching it out (keep the other edge on or just above the counter). Make sure the middle doesn’t get too thin. If it breaks in any place, you can close the gap and press the dough back together, just make sure you seal it well.
– Put the pizza on top of your pizza peel (with a thin layer of cornmeal or flour so it doesn’t stick), then top your pizza with whatever you want, just make sure it’s not overloaded with sauce or other wet stuff.
– Gently slide the pizza onto the pizza stone, and cook until the edges are brown and the cheese is melted. It’s about 10-15 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is.