When yeast meets flour — specifically, the sugars and starches — dough is born. Every great pizza begins with great dough.
But opinions about what “great” actually is differ wildly. It’s an entirely subjective concept, best discussed over a large glass of red wine, if you ask me. Our definition of great is a thin, crispy, positively shattering crust that takes us back to the divey joints we grew up with in Wisconsin. Today I’m sharing this favorite.
The original recipe suggests a yield of 6 to 8 for larger, thicker pies. I stretch it out to 10 for cracker-style pizzas about 12 inches in diameter, perfect to serve two people as a meal. It’s completely your call — choose your own adventure.
An electric stand mixer with a dough hook best handles a quantity this large. It can be done by hand, though serious muscle power is required. Also helpful, but not necessary for utilizing your homemade dough: a pizza peel (also called a paddle); a ceramic, clay, cast-iron or steel baking stone. Amazon and local restaurant supply stores offer excellent inexpensive options for both. Between the two your total shouldn’t be more than $50 — in our case, peel plus stone cost less than $30 and serve us very well.
Working without, you can easily use a cutting board or the back of a baking tray as a peel, and a baking tray or the bottom of a large, upside-down cast iron pan as a stone. Heck, you can even take the party outside and slap a crust down onto the oiled grates of a hot grill!
Pizza made at home with your two hands — or four, or six, or twelve — is beyond satisfying. It’s fun, it’s cheap, and the ingredients are 100% in your control. I hope this easy recipe inspires you to start a homemade pizza tradition, or given it’s larger production quantity, one fantastic pizza-centric get-together!
Take some toppings inspiration from our #fridaynightpizza:
(1) asparagus ribbon pie; (2) grilled peaches and red onion with triple-creme; (3) summer squash ribbons with Humboldt Fog, chillies, lemon and fresh oregano + (4) spinach artichoke with garlic-chilli oil and Pecorino; (5) za’atar with cherry tomatoes, red onion and parsley; (6) crimini mushroom tapenade with arugula, white truffle oil and Parmigiano-Reggiano; (7) apple, caramelized onions, rosemary and Manchego; (8) grilled eggplant with chevre, pomegranate arils, cilantro and mint; (9) sliced peaches, Gorgonzola and fresh rosemary; (10) fig, prosciutto and Manchego with smashed roasted garlic and sage; (11) shaved acorn squash with feta, chillies and fresh sage; (12) yellow pear tomatoes with fresh oregano, red onion and feta; (13) bacon, julienned leeks (or were they scallions?), smashed roasted garlic and Pecorino; or the above (14) Caprese-ish pie with tomato, mozzarella (homemade!), fresh mint and fresh oregano.
Tell me… What style of pizza crust do you prefer?
- 5 cups strong white bread flour or tipo "00" flour
- 2 cups finely ground semolina flour, or more strong white bread or "00" flour (see HGN Notes)
- 1 Tbsp fine sea salt
- 1/4-oz envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dried yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp honey or turbinado sugar
- 2 to 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, optional (see HGN Notes)
- 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- Sift the flours and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the bread hook attachment; mix briefly to combine.
- In a large measuring cup, mix the yeast and honey into the water and leave for a few minutes. Pour the yeast liquid into the bowl with the flour. Turn the mixer on to its lowest speed and run to gradually incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry. Continue running the mixer on low until it forms a ball of smooth, springy dough. This should take about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the strength of your stand mixer.
- Grease a large bowl with olive oil and transfer dough into the bowl. Turn the ball around several times to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (I use the turned-off oven.)
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Use a sharp knife to divide the dough into 10 small balls (or 6 to 8 medium- to large-size balls). At this point you can use immediately, or keep the dough balls until ready to use in the refrigerator (up to 2 days) or freezer (up to 6 months), wrapped in individual plastic bags or separately in plastic wrap.
- When ready to cook, preheat your oven to its hottest temperature -- ours goes to 550º F -- with a ceramic or granite baking stone placed on the lowest rack if you have it. If you have a pizza peel, sprinkle it with a light layer of coarse semolina or cornmeal.
- On a lightly floured surface (I use a large piece of wax paper) roll or stretch a ball of dough into a 12-inch round. If using a baking stone, transfer the dough to your prepared pizza peel (the back of a large baking tray dusted in the same manner works as a decent stand-in). Without a stone, transfer the rolled dough to a large dusted baking tray that the pizza will bake on.
- Evenly distribute your desired toppings -- remember, less is more! Either use the peel to carefully transfer the prepared pizza to the top of your preheated stone, or place the pizza in its baking tray on the lowest rack of the oven. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges of the crust are browned and crispy, and the toppings are done to your liking. (If your oven only goes up to 500° F, the total cook time will be closer to 10 or 12 minutes, but keep an eye on it.)
- Remove the pizza from the oven, and add any additional garnishes, for instance fresh herbs, citrus zests, a grating of hard cheese, or aged balsamic vinegar. Slice, and serve immediately, always with hot pepper flakes on the table!
+ Swap up to half of the bread flour with whole wheat flour if you like; though, keep in mind that you may need more liquid.
+ If you prefer a truly cracker-style crust, omit the extra virgin olive oil from the water, yeast and honey mixture.
+ Mix 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh minced herbs or 2 to 4 Tbsp dried chilli flakes into the dough for an extra punch of flavor.
Recipe adapted from Jamie At Home.
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