Pizza is the favorite food of little kids, the go-to food choice of dorm rooms nationwide, and a treasure hunt for foodies seeking gourmet versions. You can easily pick up the phone and place an order at any number of national chains or the old school neighborhood Italian restaurant. Twenty minutes and a few bucks later and you can have a piping hot pie in your hands. But what’s even better than making that call in the first place, is making pizza at home yourself.
Just like your local pizza place, you can have deep dish, thick crust, thin crust, or stuffed crust. What you put on your pizza is only limited by your imagination. Keep it simple and classic by making a Margherita with basil, tomato, and fresh mozzarella; Hawaiian with pineapple and ham, or gourmet with shaved white truffles and Fontina.
Once you have a good basic pizza dough recipe at your disposal, it can be pizza night at your house whenever you have the craving. Most pizza dough recipes will require rising time, but there are also some where the time isn’t needed. Keep both recipes in your collection and you’ll have no excuse to not make pizza. There is an excellent non-rising dough recipe on Melinda Lee’s website. The texture is different than a typical pizza crust, but it is delicious. Recipes abound for a traditional pizza dough, including a very good one from Rocco DiSpirito in his ‘Rocco’s Italian Kitchen’ cookbook. The recipe will also work for calzones, stromboli, and foccacia. Remember, if you want a thinner crust for your pizza, split the dough in half or thirds, which will also give you the opportunity to experiment with different toppings.
Find the Melinda Lee recipe here:
Basic Pizza Dough
From Rocco DiSpirito’s ‘Rocco’s Italian Kitchen’
¼ cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast (2 ½ teaspoons)
½ teaspoon sugar
1 ½ cups room temperature water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for the bowl
2 ½ teaspoons sea salt
3 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Pour the ¼ cup warm water in a large bowl. Add the yeast and sugar and stir to combine. Let sit until yeast dissolves and becomes foamy, about 10 minutes.
Add the 1 ½ cups water, 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt to the yeast mixture. Gradually stir in the flour in ½ cup increments, until a sticky dough forms. Knead the dough on a floured board until it is smooth and elastic. If the dough is too sticky, add flour by the tablespoon. Knead about 10 minutes.
Brush another bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside. Brush top of dough with olive oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or towel and let rise in warmest spot in kitchen until it’s doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Divide dough into however many portions you like, roll out, and add your favorite toppings. The remainder dough will keep for a day or so in the refrigerator.
Baking time will be dependant upon how thick your crust is and your toppings. In a 400 degree oven, aim for about 20 minutes and adjust accordingly.