Minimum Effort, Maximum Reward Pizza

The Dough

Jim Lahey’s no-knead pizza dough recipe (discovered via dinneralovestory.com) has made weekly homemade pizza both possible and pleasurable.  It is so simple, delicious, and very forgiving.  I have been making this pizza dough for about a year now and the time that I’ve left it to rise has been erratic (always more than 3 hours) but the results are consistently delicious.  I regularly pull out pre-prepared balls of dough from the freezer and leave them to rise for about 10 hours while at work or out for the day. Using a stand mixer is quickest but the dough can easily be mixed by hand. After rising, I prefer to give it a quick flattening out with a rolling pin rather than pushing the dough out with my hands. It is important to let the dough rest after rolling if you want to have a crust that is crisp, light and airy.

A quick note about the centre picture above – do not allow the dough to have its first rise on parchment or wax paper as it makes the paper very wet and it will tear when you try to remove the dough. You will then need to extract bits of wet paper from the dough. The second rise and freezing on the parchment is fine and is recommended.


Pizza Dough Recipe Title

  • 3 3/4 C All-purpose flour
  • 1 t Sugar
  • 1 t Maldon salt or 1/2 t fine salt
  • 2 1/2 t Active dry yeast
  • 1 1/3 C Room-temperature water
  1. Measure the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook attachment, and mix to combine.
  2. Add the water in a steady stream to help the water become evenly distributed.  Mix on medium speed until just blended and the mixture comes together as a ball.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured cutting board and divide into the number of portions you plan to use (see notes below).  Shape each portion into a ball and cover (an airtight cake carrier works well for this).  If you prefer, the dough can be left to rise, covered, in the bowl you mixed it in and you can portion the dough after it has risen. Let the dough sit at room temperature until it has more than doubled in volume, at least 2 to 3 hours.
  4. Prepare your baking sheet by lining it with foil and then parchment.
  5. Lightly flour your surface and roll the dough out thinly (about a 1/8-inch) or to taste.  Transfer the rolled out dough to the baking sheet and allow the dough to rest for about 30 minutes, until the surface of the dough goes from smooth and flat to bumpy (see 3rd picture above).
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 500⁰F for 20 minutes (the oven must be HOT).
  7. Brush the outer rim of the dough (about 1-inch wide) with oil.  Spread with sauce until it just meets the oiled perimeter and add your toppings of choice.  Bake on the lowest rack of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, keeping a close eye after 10 minutes to ensure the cheese or crust do not burn.  Leave the pizza to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing.

Notes:

  • Some of the all-purpose flour can be replaced with whole wheat. I usually do 1 C of whole wheat flour.
  • 1 recipe of pizza dough makes enough for a hungry family of four (edible dividends likely).
  • Portions (thin-crust pizzas):
    • 2: very large pizzas (each will almost fill a ~18” x 12” baking sheet)
    • 5: good sized personal pizzas for adults or older children/teens
    • 10: perfect for young kids (pizzas will be approximately 7-inches) and for making single-serving sized calzones
  • Allowing the dough to rest after rolling is key for a crust that is crisp, light, and airy. If you skip this step, you may find the crust is dense.  If time is of the essence, skimping a little on the first rise to allow for the second is preferable.
  • Best results are achieved by baking one sheet at a time. If baking two sheets at a time, rotate them so that each gets to spend about half the time in the lower part of the oven.
  • If the crust is starting to cook much more quickly than the toppings and you are concerned about burning, move it higher up in the oven.  You could also finish the top off using the broiler but do not take your eyes off the pizza to prevent burning.  If the top is cooking faster than the bottom and you are concerned about burning, tent some foil over the pizza.

Click for printable recipe: Pizza Recipe for Print


Topping it off

For the simplest of pizza sauces:

  • Red: stir together 1 bottle of passata, 1 t Maldon salt (or 1/2 t fine salt) and 1 t sugar.
  • White: Whip 2/3 C of whipping cream with 1/2 t Maldon salt (or 1/4 t fine salt) until soft peaks form and sprinkle with grated Parmesan.

 

Some ideas for toppings after you have dressed the dough with the sauce and mozzarella:

  • Basil Bianca: for each personal-sized pizza, whip 1/3 C whipping cream until soft peaks will hold their shape. Stir in 1/4 t Maldon salt (or 1/8 t fine salt), 3/4 C basil leaves (finely chopped); and 1/2 clove grated garlic. Sprinkle over 1/4 C grated Parmesan.
  • Bacon, pineapple, finely diced shallot, feta, and dried oregano.  Once the pizza is out of the oven, had its 5 minutes to cool, and has been sliced, add slivers of ripe avocado seasoned with salt and pepper (or mash it up with a fork and eat it as a dip).
  • Roasted sweet potato and butternut with caramelised onions, goat cheese, and thyme.
  • Bacon and Montreal smoked meat.  Follow consumption with Lipitor.

 

Banking Time

When you are making pizza, it makes sense to bank some time and prepare extra for a future short cut to pizza. A few ways to do this, depending on how much time you have:

  • Slice or grate extra cheese and freeze the surplus.
  • Double the tomato sauce and freeze it in an ice cube tray.
  • If you like bacon crispy, pre-cook it by the packet in the oven at 425ºF until cooked through and just beginning to crisp. Drain on paper towel and snip up with scissors. Freeze it in the portions you would use when making pizza. The bacon will continue to crisp further when cooked on the pizza.
  • Measure the dry ingredients into a jar or container with a lid so that you need only add water and mix the next time around.
  • The dough can be made 3 days ahead. Cover well and refrigerate.  Remove from fridge about 3.5 hours before you will be ready to roll it out and leave the dough out at room temperature to rise.
  • Freeze the dough after portioning and shaping into balls. Take out as many portions as needed and allow enough time to thaw and rise (about 5 hours).  I regularly leave it out for 10 hours.
  • Freeze the dough after rolling and allowing for the resting time. The pizza dough can be dressed and baked from frozen.
  • Go all the way and add all the toppings to the pizza dough before you freeze it.
  • Dough can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Bon Appétit!

What’s on your favourite pizza?

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