Have you ever had pizza so bad that the crust tasted like cardboard? Tomatoes acidic…check. Chewy cheese…check. Flavourless toppings…check. On the flip side have you ever had pizza so good you wanted to just curl up in the corner and purr? Everyone has a favorite pizza memory and every pizza they eat after that is compared to “the one”. Personally, I’m a crust girl. I judge a good pizza by how tasty/chewy/crunchy the crust is. The sauce needs to be really good too…preferably homemade or store bought that’s relatively high quality. For me the toppings come last because I usually like pizzas that have fewer toppings.
And once a pizza has managed to have the crust and tomato sauce right, it would be pretty hard to mess it up. But, it happens all the time. We eat pizza from our favorite place and one day they close shop without telling you and a franchise pizza joint shows up with a mockery of a pizza. In those dire times what better way to make sure you always get what you want other than making it yourself ? And get to add whatever toppings your heart desires. That’s what I did. I spent hours looking through websites and cookbooks to find the “perfect” pizza dough and realized that this was a lesson in futility. The variations in the pizza world are endless and I had to do what any pizza dough recipe hunter would do. I closed my eyes and picked one that seemed basic enough for my purposes.
Unbeknownst to me, there is a huge pizza flour war waging amongst pizza aficionados. Strong flour vs. Weak Flour. Caputo Flour Type 00 vs. King Arthur. White Unbleached vs. Whole Wheat. Bakers percentages? Ouch. This stuff hurts my homemade pizza sensibilities. I’m sure some of the great pizzas I’ve eaten took all those things into consideration but for the home cook, this pizza dough will work just fine. Until you are ready to experiment with hydration % and whatnot.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise in the fridge. This is called a “cold rise”, basically to ferment the dough and impart flavor. I left my dough in the fridge for 2 days. When you remove the dough from the fridge, you need to punch it down to de-gass it and then divide into smaller balls, which will depend on the number of pizzas you want to make. Cover the doughs and leave them at room temperature for at least an hour before topping. At this point you want to turn your oven to its highest setting. The pizzas take anywhere from 2-12 minutes depending on how hot your oven gets, the thickness of your crust and toppings. Just keep an eye on it!
To shape the pizza, take one ball of the dough and press into a disc shape. Pull the dough with your fingers turning it often to create a circle. Obviously I cheated and used a rolling pin and got an oblong. It’s ok though because once you pop the pizza into your mouth, it won’t matter what shape it was!
This is after a couple minutes in the oven…looks purtty doesn’t it? These were the last two slices of my Caramelized Onion Mushroom pizza. It was so good I almost forgot to take pictures. I caramelized red, white and spring onions, sauteed mushrooms and sliced sweet red peppers and huge chunks of mozzarella. I added the basil after I pulled it out of the oven. I had cooked tomato sauce on half of the pizza only and I definitely preferred the side WITH the sauce.
Recipe for: Pizza Dough
Servings: 3 pies (about 10″ or so for each if making rounds)