Not to be bossy, but you need to read the notes and the recipe all the way through. Lots of words, but I've messed this up enough times that I want to pass down everything I've learned by trial and error of making pizza at home. I typically don’t do fussy, but there are a few steps here and the wait times between them are worth noting before you start. Nothing is difficult, but it's worth a heads up before you jump in.
I know, I’m asking you to plan ahead a day, ideally two if you can stand it... As it sits, the dough ferments, which is the element that adds flavor to a simple mixture of flour, water and yeast. The only way to impart flavor into something as simple as plain pizza dough is time, so while it will still work if you use it a few hours later, it tastes better, and there are more air bubbles the next day and it is best the day after that. The upside of that wait time is how quickly it comes together in the first place. Prep it Sunday, for pizza on Tuesday night.
You may absolutely use unbleached all purpose flour for this recipe. My tests came back with more bubbles and a lighter feel when I used either bread flour or tipo “00”, both available at Whole Foods, well stocked markets, and online. You want a high protein content for bubble characteristics and these flours deliver. I really enjoyed this pizza article, regardless that it scolded me for my lack of using a scale. See that photo with the cold ferment?! That's what we're doing here.
Homemade pizza will never turn out like a shop with a legit pizza oven, because it is impossible for a home oven to get that hot. When we moderate our expectation for such, the results are delicious. The photos here don't show any beautiful dark marks on the crust because I used the toaster oven for this pizza, which was the least hot choice. It's so hot and humid here I just couldn't blast the oven mid day :/ I put a few notes below on what we do on the grill versus the oven too. I like keeping the meal outside whenever possible, but a grill doesn't get the top as hot as the bottom so the toppings don't get at much heat and the cheese doesn't really brown. For that reason, I always vote a piping hot oven over a grill.
For company? I'll have a big, light salad ready to go (usually arugula, shaved fennel, toasted pinenuts and golden raisins with a mustardy vinaigrette). One pizza goes in, out, rests a few minutes while the other cooks, and I just serve them straight off the cutting boards.
Makes about 3 medium-ish pizzas
I know. I should be using weights. Real cooks use weights. I'm a shoot-from-the-hip sort of cook, not a chef, and therefore have not been weighing my flour. Sorry. I leave mine to ferment on the wetter, stickier side, and assume that more flour will incorporate during the roll out phase.
1 tsp. active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups warm (not hot) water
2 tsp. honey
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, more as needed
3 1/2 - 4 cups bread flour or tipo “00”, plus more for rolling it out
1 tsp. sea salt
Cornmeal or semolina, for cooking
Combine the yeast and warm water, and let it sit a couple minutes for the yeast to activate. If you don't get any bubbles or fuzz layer, your yeast may be bad. Stir in the honey and olive oil.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the flour and salt. Turn the mixer on low and stream in the water mixture. Mix the dough for 2 minutes. Scrape the dry flour down into the mix if you need to. Let it rest for a minute, then mix it another minute. The dough should look sticky but still resemble a loose ball. Add a tablespoon of water or flour accordingly, it is safer to lean towards wetter than drier as you won’t be able to work water in later, but you can always use more flour to roll it out. When you touch it, your hands will get messy, but you should be able to transfer the lump into an oiled bowl.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover it, and keep it in the fridge for one (minimum) to three days (ideal).
Don’t even give it a second thought. Its just hanging out in there, needing zero attention.
On the day of pizza making, pull the dough out 3-4 hours before cooking. Cover a surface with a generous dusting of flour. Divide the dough into three parts, roll them through the flour and into balls, cover them with a dish towel and let them rise for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Weather and humidity pending. Preheat your grill or oven as hot as it will go. Preheat the pizza stone or baking sheet if using. Prepare your toppings.
When ready to cook, use your hands to push and stretch the dough super thin. Use a rolling pin if needed, but that pressure pops all of the bubbles. It poofs as it cooks, so the thinner the better. Try not to touch the outer 1/2” in hopes of keeping the air bubbles in tact.
Sprinkle cornmeal or semolina onto the hot stone or baking sheet. Have your toppings ready because you need to work fast here. If you have a pizza peel, sprinkle cornmeal on that, then your dough and assemble on the peel (we don't have one, so I do this on a cutting board and scoot it onto the stone). Shuffle your pizza from the peel to the hot stone/pan.
Bake it in your 500 oven for about 10-12 minutes. Remove to cool slightly before slicing. Save any fresh herbs and a sprinkle of parm for finishing.
* If I'm going with some heavier or wetter toppings, I'll par bake it for a few minutes, then dress with sauce and toppings from there for safety against a soggy center.
On the grill, most of the heat is coming from the bottom. Preheat the grill on high for at least 30 minutes. When you’re ready to go, create a space for indirect heat by leaving one or two burners off (where your pizza will go, so this will depend on the size of your grill). Oil the grates, push out your dough and toss it on the side where the burners are ON. Let it get some grill marks, about 1-2 minutes. Flip the dough over onto the indirect side (burners off but still quite warm). Decorate the par-grilled side of your pizza, this is the time for extra easy sauce and extra easy toppings so they get the chance to warm through with that lower heat. Grill about 7-8 minutes until toppings are melted and warm. Remove to cool slightly before topping with fresh herbs.
- pizza sauce, grated zucchini (that has been salted and moisture squeezed out before using), fresh mozzarella (not water packed, preferably), parm, lots of herbs
- pizza sauce, goats milk cheese, roasted tomatoes, barely dressed arugula after cooling
- pesto, peaches, baby tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, red pepper flakes