Is there anyone who doesn’t like pizza? Maybe you don’t like sauce on it, maybe you only like mushrooms and anchovies, maybe you’re one of those weirdos who likes ham and pineapple (thats just sacreligious to me).. but either way, you HAVE to like pizza.
I’m from New York, and here we have quite a pizza tradition. Once you leave New York you will never get a good slice of pizza (real pizza, not Ci Ci’s or Pizza Hut) again, unless you go to Chicago- they’ve also got quite a pizza scene. But New York pizza and Chicago pizza are very different. New Yorkers eat their pizza thin, Chicagoers (Chicagoans? WHATEVER) eat their pizza thick and deep dish. But either way, in NY, pizza is a way of life here. You can’t walk down ANY street without seeing 5 pizza places. They may not all be the best, but they’re better than pizza in, say, Wisconsin… I can bet my life on it. Some of the best pizza I’ve had in my life was at Ray’s pizza (the REAL Ray’s!! I know, there are about 700 Ray’s pizza’s and they all claim to be the original…) at 5 a.m. after a night of bar-hopping. Pizza at 5 a.m.? Yeah, sweetheart, this is the city that never sleeps. Some of the other best pizza’s were at random, tiny, small holes-in-the-wall that you’d never even know were there.
Well today I give you a recipe for crusty pizza dough. Is my pizza dough as good as the “best”? Who knows. But its damn good to me. It involves yeast, and I know a lot of people (including myself, admittedly) get intimidated when yeast is involved, but trust me. Its so easy a monkey could do it. I guess pizzeria owners would get a bit miffed at me for that one… but really its true. You will however need a strong mixer with a dough hook for this recipe. Which brings me to… have I mentioned how much I love my KitchenAid? Have I? I think once or twice I may have mentioned it in passing. Even covered in flour shes gorgeous! I’ve named her Lola. If you love to cook and bake from scratch a mixer like this is really an excellent investment, and I’d seriously suggest it. But an easy shortcut is to buy some dough from your favorite pizza place and make some homemade pizza. This is something kids would love: have a homemade pizza night and let them make their own pies! Plus its fun to watch the dough rise, too.
As anyone knows, what really makes a pizza is the toppings. I prefer cheese or extra cheese, or margherita. Jay likes broccoli and mushroom, chicken and mushroom, pepperoni… you get the idea. You’re free to choose your own toppings… I don’t care if you take it old school classic with pepperoni, make a white pizza, go margherita style and use fresh tomato, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella or go all rustic and use potatoes. Its up to you. I’m just giving you the base- the rest is in your hands!
As Lidia Bastianich would say, “Tutti a tavola a mangiare!” (Everyone to the table to eat!)
CRUSTY PIZZA DOUGH
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water (105° – 115° F)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2½ -3½ cups flour
- 1 tbsp cornmeal
- Dissolve yeast in warm water in the bowl of a mixer that has been warmed (run it under warm water for a bit). Add salt, olive oil and 2 ½ cups flour. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to speed 2 and mix about 1 minute.
- Continuing on speed 2, add remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, and mix until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl, about 2 minutes.
- Knead on speed 2 for about 2 minutes longer.
- Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover. Let rise in warm place, free from draft until doubled in size- about 1 hour.
- Punch dough down. Preheat oven to 450° F.
- Brush 14-inch pizza pan with olive oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Press dough across bottom of pan, forming a collar around the edges to hold the toppings.
- Add desired toppings. Bake at 450° F for 15-20 minutes.*
* For me, in my oven, it was closer to a half hour.
Remove from oven, cut… and eat! This recipe is for one pie. I split it to make two smaller pies (one plain and one mushroom which is the one pictured), and it fed three people total, with no leftovers. You could double this and make two large pies or four small ones, etc, etc. I also added ¼ tsp olive oil to the dough before putting the sauce and toppings on. I find it makes the dough smoother and its easier to spread the sauce on. If you like thin pizzas… make the dough VERY thin before cooking, because it rises and gets thicker in the oven. I thought I made my second pie pretty flat but it turned out more like a deep dish, which was a very nice surprise.
I do not use a pizza stone, I use a regular old school round pizza pan. I’m fairly sure the cooking time would change if you used a stone, so just be aware of that.
I’m told it was the “the best dough” people had ever tasted. Heh. Take that, Ray’s pizza! 😉
Oh- and if you are unaware what the title of this entry refers to, please, meet my husband Dean Martin and learn a thing or two.