My first pizzas were as simple as putting sauce and cheese on some sort of bread – ritz crackers, bagels, pitas, and English muffins. While tasty, they lack the true ‘spirit’ of a good pizza, the chewy yet crunchy crust. I progressed to using packaged pizza dough mixes. Most just called for adding water and maybe a little olive oil. It’s a running joke in our family how many times I have screwed this dough up. You’d think after 4 or 5 times, not only would I not need to read the label to know how much water to put in, I wouldn’t misread the label every single time. It’d call for one-third cup of water, I’d add two-thirds and then wonder why I had a soupy mess on my hands. A smack on the forehead and some additional flour later, I’d salvage the dough and we’d have our pizza.
Not until about last year did I start making our crusts from scratch. I’ve been through about four recipes so far, and am coming close to my ideal crust. A chewy crust on top, with a little crispiness on the bottom, with a lot of irregularly sized bubbles. My favorite pieces always had the gigantic bubble that practically created a cavern in the crust. I’ve tried several cooking methods, and have found that high heat for a short period of time creates the crust we like. It does take a little bit of planning to have fresh pizza dough on the day you want it, but it is definitely worth it. I love adding a little garlic powder to my dough for a little extra somethin’-somethin’.
Not only do you have the freedom to personalize your toppings, you can also dial back the cheesiness if you are like me. Fair warning though, if you like a LOT of toppings, you will have a difficult time transferring your pizza to your cutting board. Keep it relatively simple, and you’ll be rewarded.
Adapted from Cooking Light
Because this classic Neapolitan-style pizza is so simple, it depends on quality ingredients: Use the best fresh mozzarella and basil you can find.
Yield: 5 servings (serving size: 2 wedges)
1 cup warm water (100° to 110°), divided
8 ounces bread flour (about 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons)
2 ounces semolina flour
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
4 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup Pizza Sauce
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
Pour 3/4 cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attached. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and spoons; level with a knife. Add flour to 3/4 cup water; mix until combined. Cover and let stand 20 minutes. Combine remaining 1/4 cup water and yeast in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly. Add yeast mixture, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to flour mixture; mix 5 minutes or until a soft dough forms. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray; cover surface of dough with plastic wrap lightly coated with cooking spray. Refrigerate 24 hours.
Remove dough from refrigerator. Let stand, covered, 1 hour or until dough comes to room temperature. Punch dough down. Press dough out to a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured baking sheet, without raised sides, sprinkled with cornmeal. Crimp edges to form a 1/2-inch border. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap.
Position an oven rack in the lowest setting. Place a pizza stone on lowest rack. Preheat oven to 550°. Preheat the pizza stone for 30 minutes before baking dough.
Remove plastic wrap from dough. Sprinkle dough with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread Pizza Sauce evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Arrange cheese slices evenly over pizza. Slide pizza onto preheated pizza stone, using a spatula as a guide. Bake at 550° for 11 minutes or until the crust is golden. Cut pizza into 10 wedges, serve.