By Caitlin Raux
Give a girl a slice of pizza (plus garlic knots) and you’ll feed her for a night. Teach her to make homemade pizza and she’ll be able to host spontaneous dinner parties and feed all of her pizza-loving friends for a lifetime. Because with just a handful of ingredients — flour, water, salt, yeast and olive oil — you can throw together a pizza using what’s already in your cupboard, adding a few fresh toppings to give it that gourmet touch.
But not so fast: making a crust with just enough chewiness and crispiness, and sturdy enough to act as a vessel for your tasty toppings, can be tricky — but with a few tips and the simple recipe below, you’ll be serving up pro-level pizzas in your own kitchen. In a new video, Chef Jenny McCoy shows us how to make pizza-party worthy pies. Try it for yourself and you’ll discover how easy it is to make authentic, homemade pizza. The only challenge will be choosing whom to invite to your excellent pizza parties.
Before you begin, here are some tips:
- Use the Windowpane Test: Kneading your dough develops gluten, which gives dough the elasticity needed for stretching and rising. (Like getting up in the morning — you knead to stretch and rise… ba-dum-chh.) To know when your dough is sufficiently kneaded, use the windowpane test. Break off a hunk of dough, roll it into a smooth ball, gently stretch the dough and hold it up to the light. Gluten-full, elastic dough will be transparent in the center — like a “windowpane” — and you should be able to see the light pass through.
- Start from the middle: Once the dough has risen, it’s time to stretch it. To begin stretching, place your dough ball on a lightly oiled surface, and, using your fingertips, gently prod the dough beginning in the middle and pushing outward. Work your fingers around in circles to slowly stretch the dough in all directions. Continue until your dough is a large, mostly flattened circle, slightly thicker on the edge and not too thin in the middle. If your dough is too thin in the middle, it won’t be able to support the toppings and may burn if you try to bake it anyway.
- Easy with the sauce: I know what you’re thinking — It’s my pizza and I’ll sauce if I want to! But too much sauce makes for a soggy, weak crust. To ensure your pizza will have a sturdy base, especially if you eat your pizza New York-style (grab, fold, devour), go easy with the sauce.
- Brush on the olive oil: To get that crispy, crackly crust, use a brush to slather on some olive oil. A flavorful extra virgin olive oil will score you maximum flavor points.
Check out all of our pizza making tips here.
Yield: Makes 3 individual pizzas
Note: For the best crust, prepare this recipe the day before you plan your pizza party – the dough should rest overnight in the refrigerator.
2 cups warm water (100-110° F)
2 ½ teaspoons (¼ ounce envelope) active dry yeast
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for coating
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 ¼ cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal, for dusting
Pizza sauce and toppings, as desired
- In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, olive oil and sugar, and stir to combine. Add the all-purpose flour and bread flour, followed by the salt. With a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, stir the dough until all of the flour has hydrated and it begins to form into a ball.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead the dough, adding more flour as needed. The dough will become sticky, but keep kneading — as the gluten develops, the dough will tighten up and begin to seem drier. Once the dough has been kneaded into a tight ball, about 10 minutes of kneading, transfer to a large bowl coated with olive oil, cover, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Transfer the dough to the refrigerator and let sit overnight to chill.
- Place a pizza stone or upside-down baking sheet on the center rack of the oven and preheat oven to 300° F (or higher if your oven allows). Once the oven reaches 300° F, increase the heat to 550° F (or higher if your oven allows). This gradual increase in temperature will prevent your pizza stone from cracking or your baking sheet from warping.
- On a lightly floured surface, cut the dough into 3 pieces. Gently knead a piece of the dough a few times until it’s smooth. With your hands dusted in flour, gently stretch the dough outwards using your fists, to begin making a circle of dough. Once the dough has stretched to about ¼-inch thick circle, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and stretch any areas of the dough that are thicker. (If you pizza isn’t a perfect circle, don’t fret — that’s what chefs like to call rustic.)
- Lightly sprinkle a pizza peel with cornmeal. Slide the circle of dough on the peel and reshape as needed.
- Add sauce and toppings to the pizza as desired, but take note: less is more with artisanal-style pizza dough. Drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil onto the edge of the dough to give it a crispier crust. Carefully place the peel in the oven and slide the pizza onto the stone or baking sheet. Bake until crust is deep golden brown and the cheese is bubbly with some browned spots. Depending on the thickness of the dough, the amount of toppings, or how hot your oven is set, the baking time can take anywhere from 8 to 14 minutes.
Ready to learn how to make pizza — and much, much more — like a pro? Click here to learn about ICE’s recreational cooking and baking courses.