Pizza at home seems like a good idea until you try to mix and rise the dough the same day you’re wanting to bake it – everything seems to take too long, you rush the dough, the taste is simple, not developed, and you don’t bother to do it again. Instead, think a day or two ahead, make the dough, pop it in the fridge, then pizza time will be way more fun, and more delicious! By resting in the fridge, the dough begins to ferment, creating tasty flavors, and relaxing the gluten, so you can form the pizza without squeezing out all the gas that lets it poof up and act like pizza, instead of a big, flat cracker. You can even put the dough balls into freezer bags for up to 3 months, then simply defrost overnight in the fridge.
I’ve tried several dough recipes and my favorite is a variation of Peter Reinhart’s Pizza Napoletana, from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. It makes enough dough for 6, 8 – 10 inch pizzas.
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
- 1 3/4 - 2 cups water, 100 degrees F
- 5 cups flour, all purpose wheat
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- cornmeal for dusting
- sauce and cheese for pizza making
- Measure water into glass measuring cup, ensure it is not too hot or it will kill the yeast. Sprinkle the yeast into the water, add the sugar or honey, stir and let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes.
- Using an electric stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix the flour, olive oil, salt, and the contents of your yeast-sugar/honey-water measuring cup until combined, then turn off the mixer and let dough rest 5 minutes. Replace paddle with dough hook and knead 5 minutes until you have a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl, but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet and doesn't come off the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. If it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
- Turn out dough onto lightly floured counter and divide the dough into 6 equal pieces, then gently round each into a ball. Dip each dough ball into a bowl that has a few tablespoons of olive oil in it, rolling the dough in the oil, and then put the dough balls into zippered, food-grade plastic bags (3 per bag, or each into its own bag if going into the freezer). Refrigerate overnight, or up to 3 days. Or freeze for up to 3 months.
- When you want to make pizza, remove the dough balls from the refrigerator 2 hours in advance. Dust counter with flour, place dough balls on floured counter, sprinkle them with flour, then gently press them into 5-inch disks. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let them rest for 2 hours.
- At least 45 minutes before baking, position rack in lower third of oven, and preheat your pizza stone on it, setting oven temperature to as close to 500 degrees F as you can go. If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but do not preheat the pan, just get the oven nice and hot.
- Make the pizzas one at a time, forming each into an 8 - 10 inch round by stretching and moving the dough disk over your floured fists (eventually working up the confidence for tossing it in the air!), then laying it out on a cornmeal-dusted peel (or back of a sheet pan). Lightly top with sauce and toppings (using a less-is-more philosophy) then slide onto the stone (or put the sheet pan directly into the oven) and bake 5 - 8 minutes. Slice, or not, and eat!
- 1 14 oz. can peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained (or a can of tomato sauce)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- sea salt & black pepper
- Pass the whole tomatoes through a food mill set over a medium bowl, or pulse them in a food processor until coarsely chopped (or just use a can of tomato sauce if you want it really easy!)
- Stir in the olive oil, oregano, and season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.