Best Pizza Dough

Oct 17th

I’m always on the lookout for new recipes, new ideas. I have yet to pick up a Parenting magazine at the gym, as there’s usually some cooking magazine I’d rather peruse (sorry, Tessa). There are several recipes I’ve made, however, that cease my search for that particular food. Case and point, this pizza dough. I’ve been making it for years, to the point that I no longer use a recipe; it’s taken up permanent lodging in my head. It makes 4 pizzas so it’s best for entertaining – though the dough freezes well (I’ll tell you at what point to freeze). This recipe has been on my site for over a year, but the pictures were terrible and it was hard to follow. Hopefully this new and easier to use recipe will inspire a pizza party at your house in the near future.

The secret is in the “cool rise” – at least 6 hours in the fridge – as well as the “sponge” made the night before. Plan your pizza party for Saturday night and you’ll start this Friday night. If you forget, make the sponge in the morning and let it sit for a few hours before moving on. The flavor won’t be quite as good but it will work just fine. This dough yields pizza crust that is crisp on the bottom with an indescribable chewy factor and a perfect flavor.

Picture this: I was fresh out of college and excited to make my boyfriend and friends some homemade pizza. Friends are due over any minute. I go to put the pizza in the oven and the dough is stuck to the counter. I’m awkwardly scooping it up and attempting to transfer it to the pizza stone. Once there it clings for dear life to the stone, folding over itself and spilling toppings everywhere. I was screaming every curse word I knew, and my boyfriend was wondering what he ever saw in me (luckily he saw past this and married me). It was a disaster. With lots of practice I smoothed out the process – it’s now my go-to entertaining meal as the prep and clean up are simple and really, who doesn’t love homemade pizza? It’s a staple in my house, and becoming a bit of a tradition with my family (it’s my husband’s favorite meal). Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I have.

Want to see how the transfer process works? My brother-in-law Tommy videotaped me on his Iphone and here I am, on youtube!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhgu9zcBn28

Cool Rise Pizza Dough

Makes 4 12-14 in. pizzas (Serves 8 people)

2 packets active dry yeast, divided *

2 1/2 c. water, divided

7 c. all purpose flour, divided

2 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. olive oil for bowl

*I empty two packets of yeast (or, if using a jar of yeast, it’d be 4 1/2 tsp.) into a small bowl. I use the teaspoon for the sponge and then it’s easy to just dump the rest of the contents into the bowl in the morning.

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 tsp. yeast, 1 c. warm water and 1 c. flour. Whisk to combine, cover, and let sit at room temperature overnight (or 12 hours). The picture shows what it will look like after the 12 hours – bubbly and smelling like beer.

2. Next, add 1 1/2 c. warm water, the rest of the yeast, 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. If not using a standing mixer, turn dough out on a lightly floured counter and knead manually for about 10 minutes or until your arms give out.

4. Oil a large bowl and transfer dough into it. Turn dough so that it’s covered with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and chill (in fridge) for 6 hours, punching down about half way through the rise.

5. On a floured counter top, divide dough into 4 smooth balls. Let sit, covered with a clean dish towel (at room temperature), for 1 hour and 15 minutes. If freezing, this is when to do it. Wrap in plastic wrap then a ziplock bag. To thaw, refrigerate for 24 hours. Then, undo the dough and place on a floured counter for 1 1/2 hours. Bake.

6. Preheat oven to 500 degrees and set pizza stone inside. Stone should ideally heat at least 30 minutes.

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 12-14 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden. Remove using pizza peel or cutting board, slice and serve.

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