I have a few different pizza recipes. This is my old standby, whip-it-together-then-forget-about-it pizza dough.
It produces a versatile, bread-y crust that can hold an almost-heroic amount of toppings. The crust is pre-baked, then topped and blasted quickly in a hot oven, so it won’t get soggy.
The crust itself has a relatively mild flavor, since it only gets one long-ish rise, then a quicker one. (As a general rule, the longer dough rises and rests, the more flavor it develops.)
I made two of these for our recent Fight Night Feast—one with tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella, and the other with a mix of Italian cheeses.
For a heartier pizza, check out my Thick Crust Sausage & Cheese Pizza. For a fabulous, chewy, old-school pizza crust (topped with ground lamb or spinach and parmesan) check out the Daring Bakers’ October Challenge: Thin-Crust Pizza. This last one is by far my favorite dough, but it takes two days to make.
Today’s recipe can be thrown together with great results in a few hours. I’m cutting a few corners on traditional baking best practices (more on that to come in the next few weeks) in the interest of time and convenience.
This dough also has a fairly high ratio of flour to water, so it’s stiff and easy to work with.
It provides a great blank canvas for almost any pizza toppings you can imagine, including:
+A mix of mozzarella and blue cheeses with slices of buffalo chicken tenders
+Sauteed ground sausage, pineapple chunks, and fontina
+Fig preserves, prosciutto, and Gorgonzola (a la Todd English‘s Figs Restaurant here in Boston…check out April’s gorgeous version here.)
A note on equipment for making pizza dough
This is super easy and fast to make with a stand mixer. You can also mix the dough by hand in a large bowl with a sturdy wooden spoon, then your hands.
Nice & Easy Pizza Dough (Plus Simple Red & White Pizzas)
For the dough
2 cups warm water
1 Tbls. yeast
pinch of sugar
5 cups flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
Simple Red Pizza
Ground, peeled tomatoes
Fresh basil leaves
Freshly cracked black pepper
Simple White Pizza
6-cheese Italian blend
Freshly cracked black pepper
Makes 2 large pizzas.
Make the pizza dough
Put the yeast, lukewarm water, and pinch of sugar in the bowl of your mixer. The water should be warm, but not hot (or else it will kill your yeast).
The sugar is there to give your yeast a little something to nibble on right away to help give your dough a little extra poof.
Add the flour and the salt.
Fit your mixer with its dough hook. Mix on medium-high until the dough comes together in a sticky ball.
You want it to look about like this:
Remove the dough hook and bowl from the mixer. With your hands, knead the dough a few times right in the bowl until it forms a smooth-ish, springy ball.
Set the pizza dough aside for its first rise
Cover the bowl with a few paper damp towels. Set the bowl in a warm place to rise for an hour, or until it’s about doubled in size.
When it’s doubled, it should look about like this:
Roll out the pizza dough
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
When the dough has doubled in size, smoosh it down with your hands to squeeze some of the air out of it.
Mix the dough on medium speed with the dough hook.
Knead it like this for a few minutes.
Toss a little flour on a board or your counter.
Scrape the dough off the dough hook and out of the bowl. With your hands, round it up into a ball, like this:
Cut the dough in half.
Round each half up into a neat little ball. The dough should be fairly smooth and not too, too sticky. Toss a little flour onto it if you find that it’s sticking to your hands or the board.
Grab one dough ball and transfer it to one of your prepared baking sheets.
With your hands, smoosh the dough down until it’s fairly flat.
With a small rolling pin (a wine bottle works in a pinch!), roll the dough out so that it fills your baking sheet. You want the dough to be relatively flat and even, but don’t make yourself nuts.
Set this pan aside. Repeat with the other ball of dough.
Let the rolled pizza dough rise
Set the pans aside, uncovered, for about another hour, or until the dough has about doubled in size.
While the dough is rising, prep your toppings, so they’re ready to go when your crusts are pre-baked.
About 20 minutes or so before your hour is up, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Pre-bake the pizza crusts
When the dough has doubled in size, pop your pans into your preheated oven and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or so, or until they’re just starting to turn brown at the edges.
Leave your oven on.
Top your pizzas & finish baking
Spread the pre-baked pizza crusts with your toppings of choice.
For this pizza, I used a few spoons of Pastene brand ground, peeled tomatoes, some thinly sliced fresh mozzarella, and a handful of torn up basil leaves.
For the second pizza, I used a 6-cheese Italian cheese blend, plus some pieces of fresh mozzarella and a little garlic powder.
Pop both topped pizzas back into the oven.
Bake at 400 degrees until the cheese has melted and the toppings are done the way you like them. Grab them out of the oven, slide the pizzas off onto a board, and slice into wedges.
Serve and enjoy!
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