Homemade pizza is a crowd-pleaser at just about any social gathering.
In fact, once a month, some friends and I get together for the sole purpose of making pizza (and other baked goods) from scratch. We vary up the toppings depending on the season – pesto, ricotta, mushrooms, spinach, and fresh tomatoes in the summer; sliced apples, cheddar, walnut and caramelized onions in the fall – but the constant variable is the crust. It’s at once fluffy and crisp, thanks to instant yeast, a long rising time, and a coating of olive oil brushed on just before baking. I stumbled across this recipe online over four year ago and adapted it slightly, substituting instant yeast for active dry yeast and making a few adjustments to the preparation process. It’s been my go-to pizza crust ever since.
Perfect Pizza Crust
Adapted from http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/homemade_pizza/
1 1/2 cups warm water (105°F-115°F)
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) of instant yeast
3 1/2 cups bread flour
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Additional olive oil, for coating
- Pour lukewarm water into a large bowl. Add sugar and yeast, and stir gently to dissolve. Set aside in a warm place for about 15 minutes, until fluffy.
- Add olive oil, flour, and then salt (a tip I learned in culinary school: salt kills yeast, so it’s important that the salt not come into contact with the yeast directly; mix the salt into the flour before stirring all the ingredients together.)
- Stir ingredients together until a shaggy dough forms. Adding a little bit of flour at a time as needed, knead the dough until it is elastic (it should spring back when you poke it with your finger.)
- Cover bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for at least two hours (if the dough starts to rise out of the bowl, gently push it down.)
Optional, but for best results: Place the dough in the fridge for another hour or two. Or prepare dough the day before you plan on baking the pizza, and let it sit in the fridge overnight. A resting period in the fridge slows down yeast fermentation, allowing for a very long rising time, which gives the dough more flavor.
- Shape dough into circles or rectangles and place on pizza stone (See this video for how to shape pizza dough by hand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiyZoCTB63M) I prefer the crust fluffy and thick, but diehard thin-crust fans can stretch it out as thin as they’d like. Brush olive oil onto dough with a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, and add toppings.
- Bake at around 450 degrees for roughly 15 minutes (if the crust isn’t getting as dark or crisp as you would like, turn up the temperature and bake for longer.)
Liana’s Kitchen is a new column by Astoria-based chef and foodie Liana Grey. Stay tuned for more of her fabulous recipes!