A pretty regular dinner we have here, at least once a week, is pizza. It’s super simple and totally satisfying. Plus, everyone likes pizza. And if you say you don’t, your either lying or a total sociopath, and frankly I don’t need you in my life.
I recommend making the dough in a big, double batch and freezing half to use the next week. Once you have the basic dough recipe, you can top it with just about anything. And, a little side note, this dough also makes really good calzones, but thats for another post…
For toppings, I would recommend using a bit of restraint. A few sparse toppings makes a better pie. Or at least as far as I’m concerned. We like to stick to no more than 5, usually around 3. That seems to be the sweet spot, but it’s totally up to you and what you like. Pepperoni is a big hit, I also really enjoy a few particular combos like goat cheese, caramelized onions, bacon and thyme, chorizo is always a safe bet, and the good old stand by of classic margherita or just plain cheese is pretty dope. The great thing about this recipe is that the dough has a good bit of flavor all its own so you can really focus getting quality ingredients for the toppings and not have to overload the pie to get it to taste good.
The way I see it you have two cooking options, if you're doing this in the oven, either invest in a nice pizza stone or steel, or use a cast iron pan. Don’t have one? Get one. It’ll turn up your kitchen game tenfold. I promise.
Back in the day I would make these pizzas in a fairly inaccurate oven in my old apartment. One way this benefitted me was that it would get screaming hot when I turned it all the way up, and the key to a good pizza: cook it quick and as hot as you can! Back then, with that inaccurate gas oven, I would set it to 500° (who knows what temp it really was) and cook the pies for no more than 8 mins. They would be blistered and slightly charred on the top. So good. Now, we have a fancy electric oven, but it’s a bit more exact in temperature, so it takes closer to 15 mins to cook a pie at 500°.
The other tip to making a great pizza is getting the surface that you’re cooking the pizza on screaming hot. I recently upgraded to a dope ceramic cooking stone and pizza peel from Williams Sonoma, but I used to use an assortment of our cast iron pans. You simply place them in the oven when it’s off, then turn the oven on as hot as it will go, that way by the time the oven is preheated, so are the pans. Then to assemble the pies, take the cast iron out of the oven, and being very careful not to burn yourself, drop the dough in, top the pizza and immediately place it back in the oven to cook.
The way I see it you have two cooking options, if you’re doing this in the oven, either invest in a nice pizza stone or steel, or use a cast iron pan. Don’t have one? Get one. It’ll turn up your kitchen game tenfold. I promise.
all about that dough
For the dough
Original recipe from Joy of Cooking
I would highly recommend doubling everything in this recipe and making a double batch so you can freeze half for later. Less work, more pizza.
- 1 1/3 c water
- 2 1/4 tsp yeast
- 3 1/2 c flour – try and get “bread flour” or “strong flour”. NOT pastry flour. You want a high gluten content, it’s what gives you that good chew to the dough.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp sea salt – or some other type of good quality salt, you’re using a lot to flavor the dough
- pinch of sugar
topping combos I would suggest
- caramelized onion, goat cheese, bacon, thyme, balsamic
- pepperoni, tomato puree, fresh mozzarella, basil
- mozzarella, ricotta, garlic, parm, olive oil
- blue cheese, fig, shallots, bacon, rosemary
- chorizo, fresh mozzarella, castelvetrano olives
- roasted red pepper, goat cheese, thyme
Let me know what your fave toppings are in the comments!
Special Equipment: Stand Mixer, Pizza Stone or Pizza Steel, Pizza Peel, Cast Iron Pans
Mix the yeast with a pinch of sugar and 1/3 cup of warm water. Let the yeast “bloom” for a few minutes, or at least till you see it’s alive. It’ll get foamy and bubbly.
Next, combine the remaining ingredients with the yeast and water mixture into a mixing bowl and stir till everything is combined. If you have a stand mixer, keep the dough in there and let it knead, on speed 1 or 2, for 10 mins. Otherwise, dump the dough on a floured surface and knead it for 10 mins by hand. And keep reminding yourself for those 10 mins of the toned arms and delicious pizza you’ll soon have to distract you from the sweat forming on your brow. Trust me, I know this from experience.
After 10 mins, your dough should form a nice, elastic ball. Place it in an oiled bowl and let it rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Even better, let the dough rise in the fridge overnight. You’ll get a slightly more sour and chewy dough, totally worth it if you have the patience. And forethought.
Once you have this initial rise done, dump the dough out onto a floured surface and divide it into 4 small balls. And, make sure to pinch the bottom of each ball together so you trap any air bubbles that develop for this second rise. Here is where you would want to freeze any dough you’re not planning on using now. Just divide it into smaller balls, think individual pizza size, wrap in plastic, and stash in the freezer. When you want to use them, take them out, unwrap them and let them come to room temp on your counter. Ready to go! Otherwise, if you’re gonna eat them now, just let those smaller balls rise for about 30 mins while you preheat your oven and get your toppings situated.
When you’re ready to make the pizza, gently stretch the dough out to form a rough circle, don’t worry about being perfect here. Try and get it as thin as you can without it getting totally annoying. Then top the pie, sparingly, and bake it till it’s cooked to your liking. I recommend 8-15 mins most of the time. And eat up!