Yay, it’s Pizza Night!

Who doesn’t like pizza? The options for toppings are literally endless, and can be a healthy meal all on its own, assuming you remember some vegetables and don’t ONLY include meat (AHEM, the incredibly delicious but oh-so-bad-for-you Heart Stopper Pizza from Donatellis in White Bear Lake, MN). Most Americans live in a place where multiple pizza places will deliver hot pizza to you in an hour or less, making it one of the most accessible foods. But…if you can spare about an hour of your own time, you can make one yourself that’s even better. After tasting this pizza, a friend from France announced that she now understood that when we order pizza in, it’s because we’re too tired to make a better one ourselves.

The base of any good pizza is the crust. Originally I used a recipe I found online, but over the years I made several adjustments to both the amounts and the process it until it came out exactly the way I like it. It’s excellent—crispy and squishy at the same time. I use a stand mixer to mix and knead the dough, which is particularly useful because I can leave it running while I change gears and chop vegetables or grate cheese or make the sauce, but you could also absolutely knead this by hand.

And yes, it’s a yeast bread, but that doesn’t mean you need to wait for it to rise. In fact, you DON’T want this to rise very much before it goes into the oven. What little rising it needs to do will happen while you’re putting on the toppings. Finally, a word about gluten. If you haven’t figured it out by now, we are NOT gluten-free in this household. However, my niece does have a gluten allergy, and for those occasions when she’s eating our food, I have tried out some gluten-free versions of my baking recipes. To be honest…most have not been very good. This recipe, however, is an exception to that rule. I think the gluten-free version was almost better than the original!

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Yields6 Servings

 1 cup warm water (110°F if you're being precise)
 2 tsp active dry yeast
 1 tsp sugar
 1 tsp salt
 430 g (about 2 1/2 cups) bread flour
 2 tbsp olive oil
 corn meal, for dusting the pizza pan; optional

1

Preheat the oven to 450°F. (Actually, I usually save this step for later since my oven takes about 15 minutes to get up to temperature and it will be at least 30 until the pizza is ready to go in).

2

Rinse the stand mixer bowl with hot water from the tap so it’s warmed up a bit. Put in the water, yeast, and sugar, and whisk it up so it foams a bit. Let it sit for about 10 minutes while the yeast activates. In the meanwhile, this is a great time to mix up the sauce or prep the toppings.

3

Add the salt, flour, and olive oil. Stir it up into a shaggy dough, then knead for about 5 minutes (using your mixer’s dough hook attachment or by hand). If you’re kneading by hand, resist the urge to dust the board with more flour—this recipe should have exactly the right amount as it is, and any more will make it too crumbly. After kneading, let it rest for 5 minutes so the dough can relax and become stretchable. (NOTE: at the end of this wait is when I turn on the oven, since it usually takes me about 15 minutes to roll out the crust and add the toppings.)

4

Dust your baking surface with corn meal. Put the dough in the centre of the baking sheet and roll it out using a rolling pin. One of these days I’ll be able to toss & spin my pizza dough like the professionals do, but until then a rolling pin is definitely your friend.

TIP: If your baking surface (be it a cookie sheet, pizza stone, whatever) does not have a lip, it may be helpful to pull a bit of the crust out and turn it over to make a ridge around the edge (see photos). This is especially useful if, like us, you put a large amount of toppings on and, like us, you aren’t thrilled about them falling off the edge and charring on the bottom of the oven.

5

Add toppings & cheese or whatever. Bake for 15-20 minutes. After removing from the oven, let it cool for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Ingredients

 1 cup warm water (110°F if you're being precise)
 2 tsp active dry yeast
 1 tsp sugar
 1 tsp salt
 430 g (about 2 1/2 cups) bread flour
 2 tbsp olive oil
 corn meal, for dusting the pizza pan; optional

Directions

1

Preheat the oven to 450°F. (Actually, I usually save this step for later since my oven takes about 15 minutes to get up to temperature and it will be at least 30 until the pizza is ready to go in).

2

Rinse the stand mixer bowl with hot water from the tap so it’s warmed up a bit. Put in the water, yeast, and sugar, and whisk it up so it foams a bit. Let it sit for about 10 minutes while the yeast activates. In the meanwhile, this is a great time to mix up the sauce or prep the toppings.

3

Add the salt, flour, and olive oil. Stir it up into a shaggy dough, then knead for about 5 minutes (using your mixer’s dough hook attachment or by hand). If you’re kneading by hand, resist the urge to dust the board with more flour—this recipe should have exactly the right amount as it is, and any more will make it too crumbly. After kneading, let it rest for 5 minutes so the dough can relax and become stretchable. (NOTE: at the end of this wait is when I turn on the oven, since it usually takes me about 15 minutes to roll out the crust and add the toppings.)

4

Dust your baking surface with corn meal. Put the dough in the centre of the baking sheet and roll it out using a rolling pin. One of these days I’ll be able to toss & spin my pizza dough like the professionals do, but until then a rolling pin is definitely your friend.

TIP: If your baking surface (be it a cookie sheet, pizza stone, whatever) does not have a lip, it may be helpful to pull a bit of the crust out and turn it over to make a ridge around the edge (see photos). This is especially useful if, like us, you put a large amount of toppings on and, like us, you aren’t thrilled about them falling off the edge and charring on the bottom of the oven.

5

Add toppings & cheese or whatever. Bake for 15-20 minutes. After removing from the oven, let it cool for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Quick-Rise Pizza Crust

VARIATIONS:

  • Gluten-free version: Increase the yeast to 3 tsp, and substitute 2½ cups of gluten-free flour plus 2½ tsp xanthan gum. There are a lot of gluten-free flours out there with very different properties, but for this recipe I’ve had good luck with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour.
  • Deep Dish: This DOES work as a deep-dish recipe, but you need the right equipment. A cast iron skillet is essential, and for this amount of dough it will need to be 12” or 13” in diameter. Instead of corn meal to dust the pan, brush the entire inside surface, bottom and sides, with a tablespoon of olive oil. Then, press out the dough into the pan, starting in the middle and pulling it all the way up the sides. It should be about ½” thick at this point. Then, put the pan on the stovetop and cook over low heat while you’re adding the toppings. This will start the crust along so it isn’t burnt on the top and sides while still mushy and cold in the middle. Even so, it will take at least 5 minutes longer to bake than the regular version.

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