Basic Homemade Pizza Dough
I spent my college years in Chicago. I loved it, exploring the city and eating my body weight in pizza. And that was just freshman year. I have such good memories of my time in that city. It’s a little ridiculous how much of it involves food. When my husband, Ed, and I talk about going back for a long weekend, our entire itinerary revolves around our favorite restaurants.
Sometimes I’m in the mood for a heavy, cheesy deep dish pie. I’ll start the dough in the afternoon, put the kids to bed early, and join Ed on the couch for a late dinner and a long movie all to ourselves. It’s like we’re back in a cozy booth on a Chicago Friday night. Perfection.
But more often that not, we crave the opposite: a thin, light pizza with a crisp base and a chewy crust, loaded with fresh ingredients. This is my go-to pizza dough recipe for those times. It comes together in one bowl, and after a 2-hour rise is ready to be topped and baked. I try to handle the dough as little as possible, gently stretching it into place. This helps keep those beautiful bubbles intact.
Once you have the basic pizza dough on the baking sheets you are ready for the sauce, cheese, and toppings.
You could use any tomato sauce, the simpler the better. I try to can my own pizza sauce every August (using the Ball recipe, which is really close to our Roasted Marinara Sauce). I also freeze smaller portions of that marinara sauce in small bags or containers just for pizza. It thaws fast and has amazing flavor.
If your pizzas are stuck in a rut, switch things up, starting with the sauce! Here are some of my favorite combinations:
- Peanut Sauce topped with grilled chicken, cilantro, green onions, and chopped peanuts (I add the last 3 when I pull it out of the oven.)
- Barbecue Sauce topped with grilled chicken, bell peppers, and Caramelized Onions
- Trader Joe’s fig butter topped with goat cheese, Caramelized Onions (optional: prosciutto and/or kale, arugula)
- Olive oil with fresh mozzerella, tomatoes, and basil leaves
- Olive oil with goat cheese, Roasted Garlic, Caramelized Onions
Now, toppings! You know those random leftovers from other recipes, like pieces of ham or bacon, the remainder of a jar of artichoke hearts or olives, or some diced pineapple? It’s easy to bury little odds and ends in the back of the refrigerator and forget about them until they are past the point of no return. Instead, stick them in sandwich bags and toss them in the freezer. On pizza nights, pull them out when you start the dough. Add some fresh vegetables and you’ll be able to create some frugal, tasty combinations.
The weekend is almost here! Forget take-and-bake. Take this recipe and bake your own pizzas at home!
Basic Pizza Dough
barely adapted from My Bread by Jim Lahey (Amazon)
Yield: dough for 2 13×18″ pizzas
3 3/4 c. unbleached flour
2 1/2 t. active, dry yeast
3/4 t. salt
1 t. sugar
1 1/2 c. lukewarm water
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and mix with a wooden spoon or dough whisk for about a minute, until you have a rough, shaggy ball of dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for about 2 hours.
- After the initial rise, divide the dough into two balls and place on a lightly floured surface, separated by a few inches. Cover the dough balls with a clean kitchen towl and let rest for about 30 minutes.
- Using your fingers, coat 2 13×18″ rimmed baking sheets generously with olive oil. Place one dough ball on each baking sheet. With your hands, gently pull and stretch the dough to fill the baking sheet. The goal is to spread the dough as evenly as possible across the bottom of the pan, while using a light touch to keep the bubbles intact.
- Top with your favorite sauce, cheese, and toppings. Bake at 425-degrees for about 12 minutes, until the top is bubbly and the cheese & crust are light brown. (I usually bake one pizza at a time, but you could also bake both at once, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.)
I have been making this pizza dough recipe from My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey (Amazon) for the last five years or so. The method is simple and the results are consistently delicious. The book is packed with great baking tips and recipes. Lahey has also come out with My Pizza: The Easy No Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home (Amazon), which more closely follows the No Knead method for making pizza. I can’t recommend both books enough, if you want to start cranking out amazing loaves of bread and pans of pizza from your own oven!
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