Normally when I find or create a recipe that I want to share with you, I mess around with it for at least a few weeks to make sure it’s just the way I want it; it’s relatively rare that I find a recipe and almost immediately want to post it. But last Thursday, Deb at the inimitable Smitten Kitchen posted the holy grail of pizza dough. I mixed up the dough that night, ate it for dinner the next, made it again yesterday, and did my damndest to share with you as quickly as possible, because, well, pizza.
Great pizza dough seems to have a similar mysterious quality as great pie dough. Tomes have been written about the process for both, which is horrifically intimidating (I’m supposed to read what?! I just want dinner, not a dissertation!) Since it takes so few ingredients, undue emphasis (some would say fanaticism) is placed on what type of flour, where the water was sourced. People get scared of dealing with yeast and rising dough. Some say great pizza can just never be replicated at home without a wood-burning oven or a baking stone or a full-blooded Italian in the kitchen.
I call bull.
Look, it’s really not as complicated as all that, so please don’t be scared. I’ve struggled with pizza dough too, I’ve had versions I’ve liked for various reasons, but the biggest killer to me is the timing, which is what is so absolutely perfect about this recipe. Make it in 5 minutes the night before and it will be ready just in time for dinner the next night (and will keep in the fridge for even a few days after that)–no 6 hours or 16 hours or some similarly inconvenient timing for someone who actually has a day job (which is not making pizza).
This dough doesn’t require kneading or rolling out, another confidence killer when it comes to pizza (and pie, now that I think about it)–just poke and pat it into whatever shape you like. You can get fancy with the flour if you want (I like half white/half bread flour), but you don’t have to; you can use a pizza stone, but a pre-heated baking sheet works quite well. Once baked, the pizza crust has a crackly outside but the inside is tender and chewy.
The toppings are up to you (though try to use a light hand with ingredients like sausage–for a topping-heavy pizza, you may prefer this), and you can make it thinner or thicker depending on your preference.
I implore you, if you have ever wanted to make pizza at home, give this a try, it may just change your weekly dinner rotation and will most certainly change your mind about easy homemade pizza.
Easy Pizza Dough
This is ever-so-slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s 22-hour version, but with some suggestions based on the two times I’ve made it and the comments from Deb’s readers. For the thickness I prefer, this made a very generous 9 x 13 inch pizza, or three small-ish round pizzas. A note on the yeast–since it’s such a slow rise, this doesn’t require mixing with warm water before adding to the flour, but if you want to make sure your yeast is active, sprinkle a little over a small bowl of warm water. After about 10 minutes, it should be foamy and mostly dissolved.
3 cups flour (all-purpose or bread work equally well, up to half can be whole wheat flour), plus additional for dusting
1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 1/4 cup water
Cornmeal for dusting pans
Your favorite pizza toppings (if possible, cooked slightly so the dough doesn’t get too soggy)
In a large bowl, stir together flour, yeast, and salt. In a measuring cup, combine honey and water, and stir into the flour mixture until a ball begins to form. You’ll need to trust your judgement a little bit: the dough should be sticky and the flour all mixed in after stirring. If your dough seems dry, add water by the tablespoon until all the flour is incorporated.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 21-23 hours; dough should double in volume.
Preheat oven to 500 for 30 minutes (if you have a pizza stone, it should go in the oven to pre-heat as well). Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper and lightly sprinkle with cornmeal. Lightly dust risen dough before scooping it out of the pan and press out to your desired thickness and shape (if the dough resists, let it sit for 5-10 minutes to relax). Top with sauce, toppings, and cheese, and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
If using a pizza stone, slide the pizza (parchment paper and all) off of the pan onto the stone; otherwise place the pan onto the lowest rack in the oven. Bake 10-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and crust is golden. Remove from the oven, slice, and serve.