Best Pizza Dough (seriously)

Feb 27th

This is my FAVE pizza dough out there. I searched long and hard to find this, and now that I’ve found it, I will share it with you! It is a chewy, crunchy, delicious tasting crust. I’ve made pizzas, calzones, and stromboli with it and it’s not failed me yet!

I found this on epicurious.com and I am pretty sure it was originally a Bon Appetit recipe. It is f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s.

I didn’t get EVERY picture during the process, but I will make sure to explain well along the way.

A while ago I read an America’s Test Kitchen article about the best rise for yeast breads. It suggested a “cool rise”, which is rare as most recipes tell you to “let dough rise, covered tightly with plastic wrap, in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours”.

By resting your dough in the fridge, the yeast will still grow it will just do it slower, developing a better texture and flavor. I looked for a cool rise dough recipe and the one I found made 8 individual-sized pizzas. Instead, I make 4, 14 inch pizzas. Works great!

So you start with a sponge. Make the sponge the night BEFORE you want to make your pizza. By the way, you could make this all ahead and let it sit in the fridge for a few days or even freeze it for a month or so. It is very forgiving.

Here is a pic of ALL the yeast you will need for these pizzas. I usually open both and put them in a custard cup.

That’s just easier. Now, combine 1 tsp. active dry yeast, 1 c. warm water, and 1 c. flour. I usually dissolve my yeast in my water (about 5 min.) then add the flour and whisk whisk whisk.

I do this in the bowl of my stand mixer, to make it easier for the next day. Now leave it AT ROOM TEMP. for 12 hours or overnight. Literally… cover it tightly with plastic wrap and fugetaboutit.

NEXT DAY!

That’s your sponge! Looks nice and bubbly and smells like beer. It does, it smells like beer.

I prep a bit now Mise en place and all that.

1. Measure out 6 c. flour (all purpose) into a bowl. Add 2 tsp. salt.

2. Fill a 2 c. liquid measuring cup with 1 1/2 c. warm water.

3. Pour the REST of your yeast (so the remaining packet from last night, plus a whole second packet). By the way, there are 2 1/4 tsp. of yeast in each packet. If you are working with a jar of yeast, then you would do the 1 tsp. for the sponge and then 3 1/2 tsp. the following day. How’s that for quick math? Booyah.

4. Ok, so now you’re all ready to go. Pour that 1 1/2 c. water and yeast mixture all at once into your sponge.

5. Whisk this together.

6. Now, slowly add your flour and whisk. I like to whisk it myself in the beginning, and then switch to the dough hook on my mixer once its too hard to whisk.

See? This is really starting to look dough-like. I have probably added about 4 c. flour. Maybe 3?

Ok side bar, bear with me. When my husband and I bought our house we were confused about this once cabinet in the kitchen. We guessed trash compactor? Little did I know how much better my life was about it get. Let me show you!

Look! A totally inconspicuous cabinet!

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

Ta-dah! And now I am a happy girl in a very happy kitchen.

OK, so attach your dough hook and keep adding the flour/salt mixture.

Soon it looks like this. It comes away from the sides of the bowl. Make sure you knead for at least 5 minutes (if you don’t have a mixture you will have to knead this the old fashioned way for at least 10 minutes). Kneading spreads the yeast, develops the gluten, and develops a finer texture. Mas importante.

I usually pop it out, clean my bowl, and knead by hand a few times. This is some gorgeous dough.

It should be smooth and elastic, with a tacky feeling (not sticky).

See? Elastic.

Now put it in an oiled bowl and turn it around a bit so it is totally covered with the oil (I put back in mixer bowl), cover tightly with plastic wrap, and put in the fridge.

It will rise. I was home at the 3 hour mark so I punched it down. If you aren’t home during the 6 hour rise, don’t worry about the punch down.

After about 6 hours you can proceed to the next step or just leave it there for up to a few days. I brought it to my friend Susan’s. When we knew we were going to want to eat pizza in about 2 hours, I took it out of the fridge and divided into 4 equal pieces.

I kind of kneaded each part into a smooth ball (like 5 seconds of kneading for each ball), plopped on a floured counter, and covered with a clean dry dish towel.

Ok fast forward about an hour and a half.. Voila!

I love yeast! It is so crazy!

Now it is READY! Put your pizza stone (oh, GET A PIZZA STONE) into your oven and preheat it to 475. I would wait at least twenty minutes before throwing the pizza in. Some people tell you to preheat the stone for an hour but that doesn’t jive with my environmental concerns. You don’t need to waste the energy, 20 minutes works just fine.

Another recent revelation that changed my pizza-life. Parchment paper! Roll out  your dough on parchment paper and its SUPER easy to transfer. You will never have to worry about peeling the stupid but beautiful pizza off your counter as the toppings fall all over the place. Now, Susie-Q didn’t have parchment so we DID the counter peeling struggle, but it was worth it in the end.

This dough is so forgiving, I didn’t even need to roll it out. I just kinda pulled and stretched and pushed.

I smoothed some olive oil all over the surface, and tossed around some salt and pepper. Then came mozzarella, spinach (that was frozen, thawed, squeezed dry), fresh ricotta, and garlic salt.

Don’t worry about rolling a crust edge. It happens naturally.

Wait till the edges start to brown and the cheese is fully melted and bubbly. I would say it takes about 10 minutes but I never time it. Check after 10.

That is the browning you want.

Here, from another angle.

I sprinkled coarse-ground cornmeal on the stone so it wouldn’t stick. I don’t usually do this because I use parchment. The cornmeal bottom tastes great but nothing beats the ease of the parchment. Trust me.

 

Cool Rise Pizza Dough

Makes 4 12-14 in. pizzas

2 packets active dry yeast, divided

2 1/2 c. water, divided

7 c. all purpose flour, divided

2 tsp. salt

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 tsp. yeast (from 1 of the packets), 1 c. warm water and 1 c. flour. Whisk to combine, cover, and let sit at room temperature overnight (or 12 hours).

2. Next, add 1 1/2 c. warm water, the rest of the yeast (the rest of the first packet and all of the second packet), and the salt. Whisk to combine.

3. Add 1 c. flour and whisk. Add a second cup of flour and whisk. Continue adding the rest of the flour, 1 cup at a time, and stir with a wooden spoon (or set your standing mixer on low with a dough hook attachment). Once all of the flour has been added, set mixer to medium/low and knead for about 7 minutes or until smooth, tacky, and leaving the sides of the bowl.

4. Oil a large bowl and transfer dough into it. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 6 hours, punching down about half way through the rise.

5. On a floured countertop, divide dough into 4 smooth balls. Let sit, covered with a clean dish towel (at room temperature), for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 500 degrees and set pizza stone inside.

7. Roll out dough on parchment paper and spread toppings. Transfer pizza (while still on parchment paper) with cutting board to pizza stone. Bake for about 12 minutes.

 

 

It is worth it. It’s so dang worth it. The refrigerated or pre-made stuff just doesn’t cut it! There is nothing like homemade pizza dough.

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