Pizza is a usual occurrence around here. It’s easy and let’s face it, who doesn’t love pizza? There are a ton of different toppings and sauces and ways to make the pizza fun.
In my humble opinion, it is the crust that makes or breaks a pizza. And I have tried a lot of pizza dough recipes. I have an entire cookbook dedicated to pizza crust!
Some people like a really thin crispy crust. Some like a chewy, bready crust. I like both. I want my crust to be crispy on the outside, but chewy on the inside. I like a relatively thin crust, but not cracker thin. I don’t want to feel like I’m eating a loaf of bread.
This is the my go-to recipe for homemade pizza dough that tastes like take-out or delivery. (Although I do have another that I also use from time to time.) This came from a book from my bread idol, Peter Reinhart, called the The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Seriously this is my Bible of bread making. I’ve added a little honey, just because I’m sweet like that.
There is one item that, in my opinion, is a must have to make good pizza at home. That is a pizza stone. You can get them for pretty cheap. I got a free one when I bought a store bought lasagna and some salad mix once. The pizza stone allows you to have a crispy crust. Not just a cooked, but sadly soggy crust.
You heat your oven as hot as it will go for a long time (at least an hour) so that the pizza stone can get super toasty and hold onto the heat when you put the pizza onto it. This crisps the crust and the hot air melts the toppings.
I have a pizza peel, but you don’t need one. It just makes things handy. Just slide the pizza on and off of the back of a baking sheet. Parchment paper is wonderful for this purpose. The pizza doesn’t stick and it transfers heat fabulously.
Do you really need to let the pizza dough rise overnight? Well, no, but it really helps with the flavor. And the color of the crust. And those little bubbles in the crust. Why?
Because enzymes need time to break apart the flour and release sugars. This feeds the yeast and allows us to taste the sugars. It also allows the sugars to caramelize the crust.
When I made this dough, I did a little test. I made a batch of dough the day before and a batch the same day. I cooked both in the same manner. There wasn’t a huge difference in texture. Both were great. But the one I made the same day, it tasted like flour. Bland. The one I made the day before didn’t taste like just flour. It was more complex.
Try it both ways for yourself and decide if it’s really worth it.
Another couple of tips. In order to easily shape dough, it needs to be rested. Resting dough allows the gluten to relax. The gluten is what makes the dough elastic. We want it to be elastic to a certain extent. But if it is too elastic, then it just springs back into its original shape. So let you dough rest before you try to shape it.
How do you know if you dough is the right consistency? The baker’s pane. You should be able, once the dough has completed its first rise, to stretch a small piece of dough so thin that you can see light through it. It looks like this. If it breaks before you can stretch it thin, than you either have too stiff of a dough, or you haven’t kneaded it enough.
Now that you have the foundation of pizza, the crust. I can share some pizza recipes, tips, tools and techniques.