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. If instead you think a day or two ahead and make the dough and pop it in the refrigerator, pizza time will be way more rewarding. (If you just thought about pizza and absolutely need to enjoy it same day, please check out my Same-Day Pizza Dough which adds a blob of sourdough starter to this recipe and adjusts flour and water down.)
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 six dough balls that each make an 8–10-inch personal pizza. Freeze the dough for up to 3 months, defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
makes 6 pizzas, 8–10-inches each; adapted from Peter Reinhart's Pizza Napoletana in The Bread Baker's Apprentice
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast (or instant yeast)
- 1¾–2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
- 5 cups 00 pizza flour or all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
cornmeal for dusting peel or pan (optional) or use parchment instead
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. (If your yeast is instant, you do not need to proof it. Just mix everything together and proceed with the next step.)
Using an electric stand mixer mix the flour, olive oil, salt, and the contents of your yeast-sugar/honey-water measuring cup until combined (paddle or dough hook), then turn off the mixer and let dough rest 5 minutes.
Knead 5 minutes using the dough hook until you have a smooth 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 the dough is too dry, dribble in additional water a tablespoon at a time.
Divide dough into 6 equal pieces and gently round each into a ball. Lightly oil the surface of each and transfer to a covered container or plastic bag and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days (or freeze for up to 3 months.)
Remove the dough balls from the refrigerator one to two hours in advance of pizza making time.
Lightly dust counter with flour, flatten each dough ball slightly, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for an hour or two.
If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven. Preheat oven to 475°F.
If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan or a pizza pan. Do not preheat the pan, just get the oven nice and hot.
Working one at a time, turn dough upside down and using your hands in a "V"-shape, lightly press the dough from the center towards the edge, leaving the edge untouched to create a puffy edge of dough around the pizza. Flip and repeat on the other side.
Transfer the dough to your fists and work to gently stretch and ease the dough close to 8- to 10-inches in diameter. Transfer to a pizza pan or piece of parchment paper.
Lightly top each pizza with sauce, cheese, and toppings using a less less-is-more philosophy. Slide each pizza in turn onto the stone (or put pizza pan or pizza-topped sheet pan in oven) and bake 8–10 minutes. Slice, or not, and eat!