Pizza never discriminates. It can be the best friend to every college student, working woman, bachelor, or disgruntled babysitter alike. But even if it is your BFF forever and ever, it never fails to play hard to get. “Alright see you in 45 minutes”, “It will be ready for pick-up in 20 minutes” … why go through all of that hassle when in the same amount of time you can churn out your own hand tossed pizza, no box needed?
A simple recipe, and just a bit of preparation, the dough can serve as a base for an endless number of creations, for an endless number of sleepless nights or family dinners! Whether you use it for a pizza, or even a seasoned flatbread, it can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or frozen in individual Ziploc bags. T he magnetic holding the pizza menu up in the kitchen is just going to have to find itself another use, I think.
So, if you want to eat the best pizza ever, you need to start with the best pizza dough ever.
Adapted from Skinny Italian
Use either hand kneading method or stand mixer with dough hook
Time: 30 minutes (but must rise overnight)
Yields: 3 medium pizzas, or 5-7 individual
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ¼ teaspoons instant, rapid rise, yeast
1 ¾ cups ice cold water
5 cups bread flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
The recipe begins by preparing the yeast properly. In your stand mixer, combine the first three ingredients: olive oil, rapid rise yeast, and the ice cold water. Before you go any further, take one cup of the bread flour in a small bowl and mix in the salt and sugar. Turning the stand mixer on a low/stir speed, slowly incorporate the cup of flour. At this point it is at your discretion, but slowly add enough of the rest of the bread flour into the mix so that a sticky, but not completely solid dough starts to form. You will want to knead it on a medium-low speed (as your stand mixer allows) so that it becomes stretchy and fluffy.
Now time to let the fermentation take control. Place the dough on a surface prepped with a little of the bread flour. Depending on how many pizzas you want to make, divide the dough accordingly. Form each portion into a ball, and coat generously with olive oil. Placing each portion on a baking sheet, cover tightly and place in the refrigerator overnight to allow for rising.
If you don’t have a stand mixer:
You can also do all of this by hand, it just takes a lot of arm strength. The recipe follows the exact same steps: yeast, oil, water in a bowl. Combine the sugar, salt, and cup of flour, adding it into the yeast mix along with a sufficient amount of bread flour in order to make sticky, but not tough dough. Then, on a well floured surface, but do not overdo it with the flour, you will want to knead the sticky dough for 5 minutes or until it becomes stretchy. Then portion out this dough the same way as stated before, and cover each portion with olive oil to enhance the rising.
Make sure you use the dough before a week and half has passed. If you want to freeze the portions, place them in Ziploc bags and do so. All you have to do is defrost them in the fridge before you want to use them!
Perfect Pizza Sauce
Sometimes, I cheat and buy myself a jar of high quality tomato sauce, but when you want to really make the best homemade pizza in the world, you will want to use handcrafted sauce too!
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 5 cups
28 ounce can of peeled San Marzano tomatoes
6 ounces tomato pasta (Contadina is a decent brand)
¼ cup olive oil
4 tablespoons grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
1 teaspoon sugar
½ tablespoon dried oregano
½ tablespoon dried basil leaves
Warm the olive oil in a large, deep, sauté pan. Using your hands, crush the plum tomatoes, removing the stringy innards and any of the stem that remains, and then place them in the skillet. You will want to do this to all of the tomatoes, and then pour in the remaining juice.
Allow the tomatoes to cook up for a minute or so with the olive oil, and then add in half the can of tomato paste. If at the end your sauce has not thickened enough to your liking, you can add more of the paste.
Before allowing the sauce to simmer for 30 minutes, add the cheese, sugar, oregano, and dried basil, stirring so that it all gets fully incorporated!
Now ….. Time to put it together
THE BEST HOMEMADE PIZZA EVER
At least 2 hours prior to making your pizza remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a salad size plate. Using a generous amount of olive oil, coat the dough again so that it can rise just a little bit more.
Before you are ready to get the pizza put together, preheat your oven to 475 degrees. You will also want to put a pizza stone, or an upside down baking sheet on the bottom rack of your oven so that it can heat up.
Once two hours has elapsed it is all in your hands, literally. Take the mound of dough, and with a small amount of bread flour to prevent sticking, hand stretch it to the shape and size that you desire. Avoid making any spot too thin, and also try to create a natural lip for the crust. When you’re ready, place the pizza on a parchment paper or on a sheet of aluminum foil.
Dress up your pizza as you wish ….
Use the recipe for the pizza sauce (or any sauce really, I love to use vodka sauce!), mozzarella cheese, pesto sauce, basil, barbecue sauce, grilled chicken, veggies, artichoke hearts, red pepper flakes, arugula, goat cheese, pine nuts, plum tomatoes, feta, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, roasted red peppers, portabella mushrooms, sautéed spinach, meatballs, pineapple, sausage, bacon, ham…. The list is endless really.
There is no doubt in my mind that once the pizza comes out of the oven, depending on size and thickness of the crust it shouldn’t need to cook for more than 8-14 minutes ….. It will be the best you’ve ever had.