Pizza is hands down one of my favorite foods. I don’t trust people that don’t like pizza because how can you dislike something so simple, comforting, and portable? I worked at a famous pizza chain for several years back in college. They made the dough from scratch along with the sauce and everything else we served. I learned so much about commercial food production at that job, and that is where I realized I felt at home in the kitchen, any kitchen. Now, I am not a morning person by any means, but even showing up at 8:00 a.m. to cut veggies for the pizza toppings and make salads and dressings was an amazing feeling. The cooler managers would let me make my own creations on a slow night, and I always took home delicious baked ziti and any pizza that was left at closing.
This recipe doesn’t quite mimic the pizza we made there. It is more of a cross between a NY-style pizza and deep dish. It has the perfect amount of chew and can stand up to any toppings. I like to add garlic, oregano, and rosemary to the water before I add the yeast, but you can play with herb combinations or leave it plain. You want the water to be warm, not hot. This is very important because cold water will not wake up the yeast; hot water will kill it. Sometimes I like to add chopped up olives or jalapenos to the dough. I’m sure nutritional yeast would taste great too! Try topping it with Amazon Pesto for a slight change from the traditional pizza.
This dough does take about 30 minutes to cook, so you might want to wait and add the cheese during the last 10 minutes of cooking so it doesn’t burn or get hard. Also, since oven temperatures vary, check it every so often to make sure it’s not getting overcooked on one side. You should see it start to rise within 10 minutes. This recipe will yield two large crusts.
- 1 packet of instant dry active yeast
- 1 cup warm water (about 110° F)
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- herbs of choice, optional
In a large bowl, combine water, sugar, salt, 1/2 cup of flour, yeast, and herbs if using. Let this mixture rest for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, this should be frothy. If it isn’t, dump that out and start over. The foam means the yeast is activated and your dough will rise. If it doesn’t foam, you will have a hard hockey puck instead of soft crust.
Mix in the remaining dough and add the olive oil. Knead until a soft dough is formed. If it is too wet, add more flour in 1/4 cup increments until a soft, elastic dough is formed. It will be a little sticky.
Once you have made your dough, place it in on oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Leave this is a warm spot so it can rise. After two hours, the dough should double in size.
After two hours, knead the dough a few times to get rid of all the air pockets.
Dust a pizza tray or stone with cornmeal and form your crust. I just add half the dough and stretch it out to the edges, pressing as I move my hands outward.
Top with sauce and toppings of choice and cook in a 425° F preheated oven for 25-35 minutes. Add the cheese during the last 10 minutes of cooking and check the pizza often to make sure it isn’t burning.