Pizza is one of Brian’s favorite foods, but I’m picky about it. It took us years of trying and testing to finally find the perfect crust that we both approve of AND is easy to make. This dough recipe can be used for thick or thin crust pizza and turns out amazing every single time.
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On the hunt for a taste that lived up to the hype
Growing up, I was the one kid in the world that hated pizza. I wouldn’t eat it at birthday parties. I avoided it at all costs. As I got older, that didn’t change. High school sleepovers, college parties, office lunches, pizza is always a go-to, but I never joined in. Dominoes, Round Table, Papa Murphey’s, Little Caesars, it was all disgusting, I just didn’t get it. Then Brian took me on a date to a little pizza place in Reno that made thin-crust brick-oven-fired pizza. And suddenly a whole new world opened up.
But when I set out to make it myself at home, I quickly discovered why that perfect pizza was so hard to find, because it is SO hard to get right! You will find hundreds of pizza dough recipes out there, and many of them are good, plenty of them are easy, some of them are even both. But I didn’t want good pizza. I didn’t like pizza enough to settle for good. I want AMAZING pizza. I have finally found it, and now I’ll share it with all of you!
Worth the wait
You don’t need any special kind of flour for this recipe or any fancy technique. If you are in a hurry, you can make this pizza in less than an hour. However, if you do have time to plan ahead, it will make it even better. The beauty of bread isn’t in the ingredients, nearly all of the best recipes are little more than flour, water, salt, and yeast. The nuances of flavor and texture are in the ratios and the process.
The first rest, in step two, is where the difference is made. Even just 15 minutes is enough time to let the gluten rest and give your crust a nice chewy, airy texture, but the longer that you let the dough rest, the more the delicious flavors will develop. A few hours at room temperature will make for a full-flavored dough, letting it rest for a couple of days in the fridge will deepen the taste even further.
The stretch and fold
This dough is fairly wet, especially if you let it develpp for an extended amount of time, so it uses the stretch and fold method. This is a technique used with many types of bread that have high water content. After the first rest, rather than punching the dough down or shaping it right away, you use this method to strengthen the gluten so the dough is workable without having to add more flour.
Simply grab the dough from the back of the bowl and stretch it upwards about 6 – 10 inches, then fold it in half. Repeat this process from the right, the front, and the left. You will be shocked just how much stronger and firmer the dough gets after each stretch and fold.
Shaping the pizza
There are several different ways you can shape pizza crust. There is the classic tossing it around on your knuckles trick, which is effective, but also difficult to get the hang of. The reason behind that technique is that the gluten in pizza crust is so stretchy and elastic that it doesn’t roll out like a cookie dough — if you push or pull it quickly, it will bouce right back like a rubber band, so you need to find ways to stretch it gently instead.
Another way I’ve heard of is letting gravity do the work for you by draping the dough over the edge of a counter or table. My favorite method is to place the dough on an oiled sheet of parchment paper or foil and just flatten and stretch it with my hands as much as I can before it starts to resist (bounce back or tear) then let it rest while I prepare the other ingredients, and flatten and stretch it further after a few minutes.
My favorite method, because I like an especially thin crust, is to roll several crusts piled on top of each other. Divide your dough into tennis ball-sized pieces, flatten them out slightly, and pile them on top of one another with plenty of flour in between. It is much easier to get each crust nice and thin this way than rolling them out individually.
Getting brick oven flavor at home
The key to a really good pizza is a lot of heat, both ambient (in the air around it) and direct (the heat source actually touching the food). The most common way to achieve this is with a pizza stone and your oven set to 500 degrees or more. If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can also use an upside-down baking sheet to get a similar effect. Preheat it in the oven then place your pizzas on it for some direct heat. Another great way to get delicious brick-fired taste at home, especially if you are going for a thin Neapolitan-like pizza, is to cook it in a skillet to get the perfect crust on the bottom and then finish it off under the broiler to get the cheese bubbly and delicious.
Why measure by weight?
There’s a reason that I call myself a cook, NOT a baker. Baking requires so much more precision. For consistent results, you need to be able to make consistent measurements. It may seem fussy to weigh your ingredients, but it actually saves you time! It is actually is LESS effort to add everything directly into the mixing bowl instead of having to dirty a dozen different measuring cups and spoons, plus you get better results. It’s a win-win! Do yourself a favor and get a kitchen scale today!
INCREDIBLE PIZZA CRUST
By Metric Weight – Recommended
- 482 grams Water
- 7 grams Yeast - 7 g = 1 packet
- 28 grams Sugar
- 680 grams Flour
- 28 grams Salt
By U.S. Volume
- 2 cups Water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons Yeast - 2 1/4 t = 1 packet
- 2 tablespoons Sugar
- 4 cups Flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Salt
- Combine all ingredients, knead for 5 minutes, let rest for 5 minutes, and knead for another 5 minutes.
- Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover, and set in a warm place. Let dough rest for AT LEAST 15 minutes. For more flavor rest for several hours at room temperature or in the fridge for up to two days.
- Preheat your oven and a pizza stone as hot as your oven will go.
- Grab the dough from one side, stretch it upwards, and fold it over. Repeat on the other three sides.
- Re-cover the dough and let rest for 15 more minutes.
- Shape and top your pizzas.
- Bake pizzas until the crust and toppings are bubbly and browned. It will take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes depending on the size, thickness, and amount of toppings.
Once you try this incredibly simple and flavorful pizza crust, you will never go back to take-out or store-bought again!