I’ll tell you right now: this will change your life. Not in a “Call-now-and-for-just-$19.95-plus-S&H-this-kitchen-gadget-will-turn-you-into-a-gourmet-chef-overnight” kind of way. Not in a “Boy-meets-girl-they-fall-in-love-get-married-and-have-babies” kind of way. Not even in a “That-was-the-best-book-I’ve-ever-read” kind of way. But definitely in a “I-can’t-believe-I-made-something-that-tastes-this-good-in-my-own-kitchen” kind of way. This homemade pizza crust is amazing. By far the best recipe I’ve ever tried, and much tastier than delivery. Trust me, once you make this you’ll be looking forward to pizza night all week!
I’ve tried several different homemade pizza methods. French Bread Pizza. Homemade dough using that Instant Pizza Crust Yeast. Pan Pizza. Grilled Pizza. This one is far and away the best. The crust is nice and crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and not too dry or greasy. It bakes up perfectly every time, and tastes great. The recipe makes enough for 2 12-inch pizzas, and I freeze half the dough so I usually have everything for homemade pizza on hand.
There are a few important tips to ensure your homemade pizza rivals that of the local gourmet pizza joint. First, a pizza stone is essential. I know, I know, a pizza stone is pretty much a single-use tool, but trust me, this is one tool that really is essential for good homemade pizza. Pizza stones are pretty inexpensive and easy to find in most home-goods stores. Second, parchment paper is the greatest thing ever for transferring your creation from counter to oven. You don’t have to mess around with corn meal, and the paper also prevents any cheese-spillover from sticking to your pizza stone. Finally, adequate pre-heating time (with the stone in the oven) is very important.
Homemade Pizza Crust (adapted from Annie’s Eats, original source Baking Illustrated)1-3/4 cups lukewarm water (100 to 110 degrees F) 2-1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast (a.k.a. Rapid Rise or Bread Machine yeast) 2 Tablespoons olive oil 4 cups* bread flour, plus more for dusting 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt *Since I live at high altitude, I use a little extra flour. Basically, I just measure my flour with a small dome on top, instead of leveling. Not very scientific, I know, but it works for me every time)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the water, yeast, oil, and salt. Stir to combine, then add 4 cups of flour. Mix with the paddle attachment until a cohesive dough forms. Switch out the paddle with the dough hook. Knead (in the mixer) until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and place into a large bowl that has been oiled or sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1.25 to 2 hours.
Punch down dough to deflate and divide into two equal pieces. At this point you can either freeze the dough, or bake it. To freeze, wrap dough in plastic wrap, and seal in a freezer bag. To use frozen dough, let it thaw in your refrigerator for 24 hours, or on the counter for 2-3 hours, then proceed to the next step.
To bake the pizza, place the pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F for at least 30 minutes. Form the pizza dough (fresh or thawed) into a smooth ball, cover with plastic wrap or a clean damp cloth, and let rest for 10 – 30 minutes. Don’t let the dough sit longer than 30 minutes.
On a floured surface, gently roll or stretch the dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a pizza peel or large baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Add sauce and toppings, and immediately transfer (parchment paper and dough) to the pizza stone. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, about 8-12 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and let rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing and eating.