A good pizza is really hard to beat. So often pizza is the go-to meal when the day is done and your feet are sore and cooking is the last thing you want to think about doing. But when you’ve got a little extra time and an enormous craving for a good pizza (a situation yours truly found herself in this weekend), try making it yourself.
I won’t lie: making your own dough is definitely more advanced than placing an order over the phone, but it’s also a very rewarding process. Being covered in flour up to the elbows, hard at work kneading a ball of soft, living dough is an experience I think everyone should try out at least once.
What you’ll need:
- Two and a quarter teaspoons active dry yeast
- A half teaspoon brown sugar
- One and a half cups warm water
- One teaspoon salt
- Two tablespoons olive oil
- Three and a third cups all-purpose flour
Keep in mind this make a gigantic pizza crust. Cut the recipe in half for a personal pizza.
Add the sugar to the water and mix it around to dissolve it. Add the yeast and let sit for a good ten minutes. This is called proofing the yeast, and it ensures that the yeast is still alive and hungry for sugar. In about ten minutes, you should see a foamy head forming. This means the yeast is good and will help the dough to rise later on. If you don’t see it, try another packet of yeast or get some fresh yeast from the store.
Add in the salt and olive oil (and whatever other spices you want to; I added some dried thyme and oregano), give a quick mix, then add three cups of flour–but not all of it. Using a wooden spoon, mix until you have a nice shaggy mass that’s a little sticky.
Turn out onto a flat, even, floured surface and start kneading. Kneading is easy once you get the hang of it, but it definitely takes time. Here’s an awesome video from Epicurious.com that goes through it step by step.
Knead until your dough is smooth and elastic. It shouldn’t be at all sticky.
Drop a little oil into a big bowl and swirl it around. Place your smooth, elastic dough in the bowl and turn all around so the whole surface is oiled. Cover with a damp cloth or saran wrap and let it sit in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size. At this point, you have two options: you can punch the dough down and let it rise again, or you can use the dough right now. Dough that’s risen twice will be softer, chewier, and more airy; dough that has risen only once will be crispier and crunchy.
Roll your crust out and slather with sauce, cheese, and toppings. Don’t worry about rolling the edges up: the weight of the sauce and cheese will allow the edges to puff up. In my experience, rolling the edges just leads to a dense, too-crunchy crust that’s not at all a pleasure to eat.
Tip: After rolling your crust out, try pre-baking it at a low heat for about ten or fifteen minutes. This will ensure crispiness of crust, but also that the part under the sauce and cheese will actually get baked.
And there you have it! Enjoy!