What to do when your 8-year old nephew comes to visit? Make pizza, of course!
Well, not of course, actually. I didn’t think of it until we exhausted Sorry, Monopoly, and gin rummy. But it did turn out to be a brilliant idea as my father had just received a baking stone for Christmas, and my nephew loves pizza.
I told him if he helped me make it I would talk about him on my website and he would be famous. That seemed to get his attention. He thought the dough was “slimy and gross” but he loved picking his own toppings, and the finished product was “awesome”.
The following method I patched together from recipes in both Joy of Cooking and Cook’s Illustrated’s The Best Recipe. The pizza dough recipe makes enough dough for two 10-12 inch pizzas.
Next time I’ll be a bit more patient with stretching out the dough so I can get it even thinner.
The Best Flour for Homemade Pizza Dough
Bread flour is the best flour for homemade pizza dough. You can use all-purpose flour instead of the bread flour called for in the recipe, but bread flour is higher in gluten than all-purpose flour and will make a crispier crust for your pizza.
How to Make Sure Your Yeast Is Active
Pizza dough is a yeasted dough that requires active dry yeast. Make sure the check the expiration date on the yeast package! Yeast that is too old may be dead and won’t work.
Also, if the yeast does not begin to foam or bloom within 10 minutes of being added to the water in Step 1 of Making the Pizza Dough, it is probably dead. You’ll need to start over with new, active yeast.
How to Measure Flour for This Pizza Dough Recipe
Cup measurements can vary depending on how you are scooping the flour (we fluff the flour, lightly scoop it, and level with a knife). So I recommend using a kitchen scale to measure out the flour amounts by weight. This is the only way you’ll get a consistently accurate measurement.
Is It Better to Let the Dough Rise Overnight?
You don’t have to let your pizza dough rise overnight – or up to 48 hours – in the refrigerator, but if you do, it will develop more flavor and air bubbles that will puff up when the pizza is cooked. (Some people fight over the slices with air bubbles.) Make sure to take the dough out of the refrigerator an hour before using it to bring it to room temperature.
Tips for Shaping the Pizza Dough Into Rounds
Pizza parlors make it look easy to shape dough into rounds, but it can take some practice in your kitchen to get it right at home. Try these tips.
Working with pizza dough is easiest if it’s at room temperature. If the dough is frozen, defrost it in the refrigerator before bringing it to room temperature.
Prepare a large floured surface for the dough but start shaping the dough with your hands. Moving around in a circle, pull from the center out until the dough gets too large to manage by hand.
Place the dough on the floured surface and – using the palm of your hand – continue to widen the circle until you can’t stretch it any further.
Let the dough rest for five minutes.
Continue to stretch with your hand. If you can’t get the dough to the diameter you want with just the palm of your hand, use a well-floured rolling pin to continue to flatten it, working from the center out.
If your dough doesn’t end up perfectly pizza parlor round, the pizza will be just as good. Keep making homemade pizzas, and you’ll get better at it.
Best Cheeses for Homemade Pizza
Mozzarella cheese is the most commonly used cheese on pizza, but it’s certainly not the only one you can use. You can use any cheese that melts well. For better meltability, use freshly grated cheese. Store-bought, pre-shredded cheese is coated with a substance that keeps it from clumping, but it also makes it harder to melt.
Try These Other Cheeses to Switch Up the Flavor of Your Pie
These cheeses have good meltability, but feel free to switch it up with whatever cheese you want.
Parmesan – Parmesan is best mixed with other cheeses and not used as the only cheese on a pizza
Pizzas with Raw Ingredients
There are some toppings that should be cooked first before topping a pizza because they won’t cook fully in the oven during the pizza’s cooking time. Any raw meat should be fully cooked before adding it as a topping. Also, any vegetables that you don’t want to be raw on the cooked pizza such as onions, peppers, broccoli, or mushrooms should be sautéed first.
The Best Order for Topping Your Pizza
Traditionally, the pizza sauce goes on top of the dough. If you’re using shredded cheese, put the cheese on next and then the toppings. If you’re using fresh chunks of mozzarella, they should go on after the toppings. If you’re using some Parmesan cheese along with other shredded cheese, the Parmesan can be sprinkled on top of the toppings. But, don’t be afraid to mix up the order of the cheese and toppings to see what happens.
Pizza Dough: Makes enough dough for two 10-12 inch pizzas
1 1/2 cups (355ml)warm water (105°F-115°F)
1 package (2 1/4teaspoons)active dry yeast
3 3/4 cups (490g)bread flour
2tablespoonsextra virgin olive oil (omit if cooking pizza in a wood-fired pizza oven)
Pizza Ingredients and Topping Options
Extra virgin olive oil
Cornmeal (to help slide the pizza onto the pizza stone)
Tomato sauce (smooth or pureed)
Firm mozzarella cheese, grated
Fresh soft mozzarella cheese, separated into small clumps
Fontina cheese, grated
Parmesan cheese, grated
Feta cheese, crumbled
Mushrooms, very thinly sliced if raw, otherwise first sautéed
Bell peppers, stems and seeds removed, very thinly sliced
Italian pepperoncini, thinly sliced
Italian sausage, cooked ahead and crumbled
Sliced black olives
Chopped fresh basil
Baby arugula, tossed in a little olive oil, added as pizza comes out of the oven
Pepperoni, thinly sliced
Onions, thinly sliced raw or caramelized
Ham, thinly sliced
Making the Pizza Dough
Sprinkle cornmeal on pizza stone, slide pizza onto pizza stone in oven:
Sprinkle some cornmeal on the baking stone in the oven (watch your hands, the oven is hot!). Gently shake the peel to see if the dough will easily slide, if not, gently lift up the edges of the pizza and add a bit more cornmeal.
Slide the pizza off of the peel and onto the baking stone in the oven.
Bake pizza in the 475°F oven, one at a time, until the crust is browned and the cheese is golden, about 10-15 minutes. If you want, toward the end of the cooking time you can sprinkle on a little more cheese.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.