It has taken a lot of trial and error, but I think I have finally perfected the my pizza dough recipe. I find that a good pizza is all about the crust. It can make or breaks a good pizza. Toppings are easy – you just throw on some of your favorite ingredients and bake. But the crust can be temperamental.
So through lots of experimentation, I have come up with a few keys to making the perfect homemade pizza.
1. “Fresh” yeast.
Yeast, if you are not familiar, is what makes the dough rise. And since it is technically “alive” it is important to keep the yeast fresh. I store mine in the freezer and replace it every 3-4 months if I haven’t used it all by then. Also, yeast feeds off of sugar. I always add a bit of sugar or honey to the water so that the yeast can work it’s magic. [Side note: if you get the individuals packets of yeast, they do not need to be stored in the freezer.]
2. Bread flour
Unfortunately I do not have a pizza oven. If I could, I would install one in my tiny apartment. A real pizza oven gets extremely hot, which is why a good pizza has that blistered crust underneath. Chances are, your oven at home can’t get that hot. I like to pre-bake my crust on a preheated pizza stone (or baking sheet). I bake it for about 5 minutes until the underside has crisped.
5. The broiler
An extremely hot pizza oven will not only crisp up the crust but also melt and caramelize the toppings. Again, your home oven probably won’t do that. So once the cheese has melted, I turn on the broiler and let the crust and cheese brown on the top. The pizza above isn’t a terribly good indication of that because there isn’t a lot of cheese, but the broiler helped to crisp the prosciutto and caramelize the figs.
And last but not least…
One of the reasons B and I like making pizzas so much is because we can really be creative with it. If we try something we like at a restaurant, we find it can be easily translated to a pizza. This fig and prosciutto pizza was inspired by a fig, goat cheese, and prosciutto appetizer we had at a restaurant here in Charlotte. This pizza has fig jam on the bottom, topped with mozzarella, goat cheese, caramelized red onion, sliced figs, and arugula.
I hope I have inspired you to make your own pizza at home? If so, what kind are you going to make?
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) dry active yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 3/4 cups bread flour
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
1. Mix honey into water. Sprinkle yeast on top of the water. Let stand for 10 minutes or until the yeast has completely foamed up.
2. In a bowl of a stand mixer with a bread hook attachment mix together flours and salt.
3. Add yeast mixture into flour and turn on stand mixer to begin kneading. Slowly drizzle in oil.
4. Let the dough knead for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl then continue mixing for another 2-3 minutes.
5. In the end, the dough should form a ball that is slightly sticky to the touch. If it is too dry, add more water 1 tsp at a time. If it too sticky, add more flour.
6. Transfer dough to a glass or ceramic bowl and rub 1 tsp of oil over the surface of the dough to prevent it from drying out while rising. Cover with dish towel or plastic wrap and let stand for at least 2 hours, but ideally 10+ hours. (You can also place in a warm oven to speed up the process)
7. Once dough has risen, punch down dough. Form into two equal sized balls, and knead each ball, folding it into itself. Let sit and rise for another 20 minutes. If only making 1 pizza, wrap one dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate it of freeze it to use in the future.
8. If making pizza immediately, press out the dough using your fingers to the desired thickness.
9. Top with the toppings of your choice. Bake at 450 degrees for 5-7 minutes, or until cheese has melted. Broil the pizza for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.