I can say with confidence that I have the best pizza dough recipe in existence. I will tell you how to make it. You are welcome.
I know it may seem a bit brash of me to make such a proclamation as above, but I’m right. This is the best.
This recipe is the best for one reason: anyone can make it. Some doughs may have more flavor, some people may mix herbs in their dough, some crusts may be chewier, or thinner or more to your liking, but this minimal recipe is easier-that’s what makes it good. I’ll even share a few shortcuts that make this even easier. If you can mix brownie batter in a bowl, this recipe is within your grasp.
I have made at least 4 different kinds of pizza dough before adopting this recipe and technique as my go-to pizza recipe. It’s just so flexible and easy. You can make this dough a few days ahead or as little as a few hours before putting dinner on the table. The recipe is scalable too – I’ve easily made five time the dough in one go with no problems.
See the recipe and techniques after the jump. Oh, and I make the best pizza sauce too.
I’ve set up this recipe page up a bit differently than previous ones. Many people are intimidated by bread doughs so I wanted to provide a bit more commentary and tips. You’ll see my comments italicized and right-aligned after each recipe step. I’ve also included more photos than usual. You can click on any photo to view a larger image.
You’ll also notice that I give these measurements by weight as well as by volume. Both are acceptable, but if you have a scale, it is generally more precise.
113 grams (3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon) unbleached all-purpose flour
1.6g (1/2 teaspoon) instant yeast
2g (1/2 teaspoon) sugar
3.3g (1/2 teaspoon) salt
79g (1/3 cup) water
18g (4 teaspoons) olive oil
1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the flour, yeast, and sugar together, then whisk in the salt.
Minimizing the direct contact yeast has will salt is a good idea as the salt can kill the yeast.
2. Make a well in the flour and pour in the water. Using a wooden spoon or nonstick spatula, stir the flour into the water until a dough begins to form. The dough should come away from the bowl, but still be sticky. The entire mixing process should take no more than 20-30 seconds.
A rough looking dough is perfectly fine. Don’t try to mix everything together very thoroughly, the dough will just become sticker and harder to handle.
3. Pour the olive oil into a small bowl and smear some oil over your hands. Pick up the dough with your oiled hands and put it into the bowl. Turn/spin the dough a few times to coat it with olive oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough sit until doubled (about an hour). If you don’t want to use the dough immediately, put it into the fridge after about 30 minutes. The covered, refrigerated dough can be used any time over the next couple days.
Chilling the dough for one day helps to develop flavor and lets the yeast mature. If you have time, make the dough ahead of time.
Shaping and Baking
If you have refrigerated the dough, take it out at least one hour before proceeding.
1. Preheat the oven to 475F and set your oven rack to the lowest level.
My oven goes to 550F, so I just turn it to maximum heat. If you have a baking stone, make sure it is in the oven before you turn it on. A baking stone will help both to create a uniform crust and to retain the oven’s heat. It’s not necessary, but it’s helpful. It’s also good to preheat the oven for at least an hour. A lot of heat escapes when you open the oven door and allowing the oven enough time to get nice and hot is important.
2. Oil your fingers (you can reuse the oil from the bowl with the dough in it) and smear some oil all over a baking sheet. Take the dough out of the bowl, put it onto the baking sheet and do your best to shape it into a smooth ball. I usually split the dough into two and make two smaller balls. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
To shape the dough, try to tuck the edges under, as if you are turning it inside out. Set the dough ball with the folded edges under the dough and the smoother side facing up. It’s alright if it’s not perfect.
3. Using your fingers and palms (still with oil on them) stretch the dough into a 10 inch circle. If making two pizzas from the dough, try to shape them each into a 7-8 inch diameter.
If it comes out oblong or square, just call it “rustic” and move on. If it won’t stretch and keeps shrinking back, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 10-15 minutes and try again. If it still won’t play nice, see my next tip below. I don’t usually pick up the dough or toss it or anything fancy-that is just asking for the dough to tear or for you to drop it on the floor. If the dough does tear, see my next tip below for how to repair it. If it falls on the floor…um, don’t eat it?
4. Once you get it to the size and thickness you want, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest again for another 30-45 minutes. I like my crust really thin so I flatten the dough into a large thin pizza. If you prefer a thicker crust and more of a chew, don’t go larger than a 10-inch diameter if making one pizza or a 7-inch diameter if making two smaller pizzas.
A good trick for shaping or repairing tears/holes in the dough is to cover the dough with plastic wrap and shape it through the plastic wrap. The benefits here are that you don’t need to get olive oil everywhere and the dough clings slightly to the plastic wrap preventing it from shrinking completely back.
Finally, if you are really having trouble, just grab a rolling pin and roll it flat through the plastic wrap. You won’t get a lip around the edges of the pizza, but it’ll be fine.
Don’t have a rolling pin? Well, a bottle of wine is cylindrical and flat. Go for it.
5. After the dough has rested the last time, put the pizza (still on the pan, but without the plastic wrap, obviously) directly onto the hot stone. Bake for 5 minutes, or until it starts to get golden brown. Watch it carefully, it can go from golden to burnt in a matter of seconds!
6. Remove the pizza from the oven, add whatever sauces, cheeses, and toppings you want and put back into the oven for 3-5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted and the toppings are heated through.
Whew… long explanation for an easy recipe. Anybody want to give it a try and report back?