Lately I get asked often for my homemade pizza recipe. The truth is, only a little while ago I thought making homemade pizza seemed overkill, difficult, and time-consuming. With a little practice it has become as easy to cook as anything. It is well-received and healthy too. You can make crust and sauce ahead and freeze. Once you get used to making pizza it becomes easy, cheap, and delicious staple of the household.
I want to add: people who can make yeast breads often say how “easy” it is. Well, most yeast breads are easy but only when you know the general gist of bread-making. I didn’t have anyone mentor me through breadmaking and I’ve made a lot of horrible hockey-puck like things because of it. I’ve also overthought the issue of yeast, proofing, kneading, etc. If the pizza dough doesn’t work well for you, let me know and perhaps I can mentor you through it (for some even better help, view Joyce’s videos on I’mCooked).
This recipe makes enough for a large double-crust (or stuffed) pie; alternatively, divide dough after the first rising and freeze. The day you want to use it, set it out in the morning and it will be thawed and ready for rolling by evening.
1 1/2 pounds (5 cups) bread flour OR
4 cups flour, half whole wheat and half bread or allpurpose; 1 1/2 cups reserved
1 1/2 cups water (hot but not too hot)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 1/4 teaspoons (or 1 packet) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
You need two bowls for this. In the first bowl, add the hot water. Sprinkle the yeast on top and set a timer for ten minutes. Meanwhile, measure out the flour – about four cups of it – into the second bowl. Add the salt and mix briefly. When the yeast has proofed for ten minutes, toss the oil into the flour and salt mixture then add the yeast and water with a large, sturdy spoon. The dough formed should be relatively stiff and hold together; add flour if needed. Use the dough and spoon to scrape any flour out of the bowl. Turn dough onto a perfecly-clean floured surface and knead. The dough should vacillate between almost-sticky to tacky but never stiff. Add light dustings of flour as you knead. The dough should always be able to form back together when you fold it on itself but should not be so sticky it regularly adheres to the surface.
After about eight to ten minutes of kneading, transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise until doubled (I put it in the oven over a pan of water I just boiled). After it has doubled, take out, punch it down and briefly knead it again to collapse all of the air bubbles. If you are giong to divide and freeze do so now. Otherwise, divide up and roll out. Add sauce and toppings. Let rise another ten minutes. Cook in the oven between 400 and 500 degrees until crust is finished and toppings are hot and cheese melted. If you make a thick pizza crust, consider rolling out crust first, allowing to rise ten minutes, baking ten minutes, then adding sauce.