Our Favorite Pizza Dough

We really love homemade pizza. It’s kinda our thing. And we’ve been trying to master the art of making homemade pizza dough since month one of our marriage — we’ve been incredibly persistent. We’ve tried a lot of bad doughs out there, but this one is a winner. It’s like the perfect combination of crispy and chewy, and the crust actually tastes like something — not cardboard. Which is usually the goal. Unless you like the taste of cardboard. And if that’s the case, well then, maybe you should look for a dough recipe elsewhere. And p.s. — you’re weird.

Once you realize how easy it is to make your own dough, and just how much better it tastes than store-bought, you’ll never want to go back. (Also, I think most store-bought pizza dough should be illegal. Blah.) When you can make your own delicious dough, and have it in the freezer ready to go whenever you need it, it is every bit as convenient as any premade version. I promise.

First thing to note — a pizza stone is an integral part of really good homemade pizza. Why? The stone is preheated with the oven, producing a very hot surface for baking the pizza. When you slide the assembled pizza onto the stone, the bottom of the crust starts baking immediately, producing the perfect crisp bottom that provides the slices structural integrity, while the top portion is still soft and chewy. Make sense? I’m telling you — we’ve made a lot of pizza — we know what’s up. This is how the professionals roll. Everything I’m saying is wisdom gleaned from those much more experienced than myself. 🙂

The recipe below will actually make two batches of dough. I go ahead and make the full batch because then I can freeze one for later. To do this, mix up the dough as usual and let it rise as normal. After dividing the dough into two equal portions, wrap one of them tightly in plastic wrap and store inside a freezer-safe bag, and transfer to the freezer immediately. The double layer is important here. Even after the dough is moved to the freezer, it will continue to rise a bit before the rise is completely suspended. It always, always pops through the plastic wrap so the extra layer of protection is needed to prevent exposure.

Then, on the day you plan to use the dough, transfer it to the refrigerator in the morning to thaw in time for dinner that evening. Easy peasy.

Have fun making pizza. 🙂

Basic Pizza Dough
Yield: enough dough for 2 medium pizzas

½ cup warm water
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1½ tsp. salt
1¼ cup water, at room temperature
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle the yeast over the top. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend. Measure the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture as well as the olive oil. Mix until a cohesive dough is formed. Switch to the dough hook. Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1½-2 hours.

Press down the dough to deflate it. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball. (If freezing the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at this point.) Cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.

To bake, preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500˚ F for at least 30 minutes. Transfer the dough to your shaping surface, lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Shape the dough with lightly floured hands. Brush the outer edge lightly with olive oil. Top as desired. Bake until the crust is golden brown, and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes.

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