Making pizza is a snap. Once you’ve got some dough made, putting the ingredients together and making something truly sensational that you’ve made from scratch isn’t very difficult or time-consuming at all. And it tastes way better than anything you’d find in the Yellow Pages.
For me, a thin crust pizza is best without tomato sauce. Deep dish pizza? Well, that’s something else entirely. Keeping it thin…just some olive oil and some fresh vegetable toppings and a smattering of cheese, thank you very much. As for the pizza dough, it takes just over 2 hours to make, including rise-time, so if you plan your day in advance, you will have pizza for dinner and another pizza the next day. This dough recipe makes enough for 2 pizzas, so it’s definitely worth making. You can also freeze the dough after you’ve let it rise. Just tightly wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for future use.
basic (but wonderful) pizza dough
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 1/4 c warm water
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
2 T olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1/2 t salt
1. In a large bowl, combine the yeast and 1 cup of the warm water. Stir in flour, salt and olive oil and mix with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough begins to form at the bottom of the bowl. Add the rest of the warm water and shape the dough into a ball using your hands. Flour up your hands if it becomes too sticky and knead, baby knead! Knead for about 5 minutes until the dough gets nice and elastic.
2. Oil up another large bowl. Place dough ball inside and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm-ish place and let it rise for 2 hours. Once it has doubled in size, you’ve reached gold. Spread cornmeal and a bit of flour on your work surface and plop dough on top. Cut dough in half with a knife. You can put the second half of dough back in the oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap to let it rise again in the fridge, so that you can have pizza the next day. Or just oil up 2 pans or baking sheets and have 2 pizzas right now.
3. Using a rolling pin, roll out the 1/2 lump of dough until it reaches a lovely thickness. I like it fairly thin, yet sturdy enough that you can’t see through the dough. Transfer dough to your greased baking sheet and throw on your favorite toppings. Bake for 15 minutes or so at 400 degrees. Pull it out when the cheese gets all bubbly and the crust gets golden around the edges.
my favorite pizza toppings (of the moment):
As this is a thin-crust pizza you want to keep the toppings light, so don’t go crazy adding everything in the fridge. You must keep a perfect balance of crust and topping. For me, I spread a little bit of really good olive oil over the top, followed by a bit of pesto, chopped tomatoes, dried red chili flakes, thinly sliced red onions, fresh basil leaves (torn), a bit of kosher salt, and because it was the only cheese in my house at the time, old orange cheddar thinly strewn about.