Making pizza from scratch has always intimidated me. It seemed to be such a process – proofing the yeast, letting the dough rise, stretching out the dough, letting it rest, then stretching it out again…That being said, I had a little bit of confidence built up after successfully making these homemade soft pretzels and wanted to try something new. So after a couple of weeks of research online and some deliberation, I decided to try this pizza crust recipe from King Arthur Flour. The recipe seemed easy enough and had almost perfect reviews. I had all the ingredients, so why not?
Making the dough was quite easy and now, I’m not sure why I’ve let yeast intimidate me all this time. There are quite a few steps, but they’re all easy steps with a lot of downtime in between. So yes, it was a process and did require a bit of patience but overall, it was still very simple. Also, it was very good for a homemade pizza. Let me explain.
We’re lucky to have two amazing pizza places literally down the street from us: Frankie & Fanucci’s which I first mentioned during this chopped grilled chicken salad post and Sal’s. Frankie & Fanucci’s is delicious and known for their paper thin brick oven pizza. Sal’s is equally delicious and known for their thicker crust Sicilian pizzas. Frankie & Fanucci’s is award winning – they’ve won “Best of Westchester” (our county) awards for several years for their pizza. Often times, Sal’s has lines of people waiting out the door. They’re that good. Both are very different, but equally exceptional.
This home made pizza is not comparable to either Frankie & Fanucci’s thin crust or Sal’s Sicilian, BUT it is really good for a homemade pizza. I also think it’s better than both ready-made pizza dough – which I find difficult to work with and lacking in texture – and frozen pizza from your average neighborhood supermarket. Though, Trader Joe’s does have good frozen pizza options when you’re in a pinch. Aren’t they the best??!
This recipe actually makes enough dough for two pizzas, so I made this barbecue chicken pizza the first day and Chuck made a simple margarita pizza the following day with our daughter. Both pizzas were good, but I preferred the crust from the pizza made the next day. I thought it ended up with a better taste and texture with the overnight rest in the fridge and after reading some of the reviews on the King Arthur website, this was confirmed. So the next time I make this, I will definitely include a rest and chill overnight.
Does this mean no more Frankie & Fanucci’s or Sal’s? Definitely not, but we’ll definitely try to save a few dollars now and then and make our own pizza. The pizza was good and also such a fun way to get my daughter helping in the kitchen. I can’t imagine not trying this again.
For the crust:
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast or instant yeast
- 7/8 to 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water*
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
*Use the lesser amount in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate), and somewhere in between the rest of the year, or if your house is climate controlled.
For the toppings:
- Approx. 2c favorite barbecue sauce
- 2c chopped chicken (I used leftover roasted chicken breast from this recipe)
- 1/2c purple onions, very thinly sliced
- 4c shredded mozzarella
- 1/4c fresh cilantro, rough chopped for garnish
- If you’re using active dry yeast, dissolve it, with a pinch of sugar, in 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm water; let the yeast and water sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the mixture has bubbled and expanded; if you’re using instant yeast, you can skip this step
- Combine the dissolved yeast (or the instant yeast) with the remainder of the ingredients; mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you’ve made a soft, smooth dough; if you’re kneading in a stand mixer, it should take 4 to 5 minutes at second speed, and the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl, perhaps sticking a bit at the bottom; don’t over-knead the dough; it should hold together, but can still look fairly rough on the surface
- To make pizza up to 24 hours later, skip to step 5
- To make pizza now: Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow it to rise till it’s very puffy – this will take about an hour using instant yeast, or 90 minutes using active dry; if it takes longer, that’s OK; just give it some extra time.
- To make pizza later: Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes at room temperature; refrigerate the dough for 4 hours (or for up to 24 hours); it will rise slowly as it chills. This step allows you more schedule flexibility; it also develops the crust’s flavor; about 2 to 3 hours before you want to serve pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator
- Decide what size, shape, and thickness of pizza you want to make; this recipe will make one of the following choices:
Two 1/2″-thick 14″ round pizzas (pictured);
Two 3/4″-thick 12″ round pizzas;
One 3/4″ to 1″-thick 13″ x 18″ rectangular (Sicilian-style) pizza (pictured);
One 1 1/2″-thick 9″ x 13″ rectangular pizza
- Divide the dough in half, for two pizzas or leave it whole for one pizza.
- If you’re making a rectangular pizza, shape the dough into a rough oval or for a round pizza, shape it into a rough circle; in either case, don’t pat it flat, just stretch it briefly into shape.
- Allow the dough to rest, covered with an overturned bowl or lightly greased plastic wrap, for 15 minutes
- Use vegetable oil pan spray to lightly grease the pan(s) of your choice & drizzle olive oil into the bottom of the pan(s); the pan spray keeps the pizza from sticking; the olive oil gives the crust great flavor and crunch.
- Place the dough in the prepared pan(s). Press it over the bottom of the pan, stretching it towards the edges. You’ll probably get about two-thirds of the way there before the dough starts shrinking back; walk away for 15 minutes. Cover the dough while you’re away, so it doesn’t dry out.
- When you come back, you should be able to pat the dough closer to the corners of the pan. Repeat the rest and dough-stretch one more time, if necessary; your goal is to get the dough to fill the pan as fully as possible
- Allow the dough to rise, covered, till it’s noticeably puffy, about 90 minutes (if it hasn’t been refrigerated); or 2 to 2 1/2 hours (if it’s been refrigerated)
- Towards the end of the rising tim, preheat the oven to 450°F
- Bake the pizza on the lower oven rack till it looks and feels set on top, and is just beginning to brown around the edge of the crust, but is still pale on top (approx. 8 minutes for thinner crust pizza, 10-12 minutes for medium thickness crust, and 12 to 14 minutes for thick-crust pizza; if you’re baking two pizzas, reverse them in the oven (top to bottom, bottom to top) midway through the baking period.
- To serve pizza immediately: Remove it from the oven, and arrange your toppings of choice on top; return to the oven, and bake on the upper oven rack for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned, both top and bottom, and the cheese is melted; check it midway through, and move it to the bottom rack if the top is browning too much, or the bottom not enough
- To serve pizza up to 2 days later: Remove the untopped, partially baked crust from the oven, cool completely on a rack, wrap in plastic, and store at room temperature; when ready to serve, top and bake in a preheated 450°F oven, adding a couple of minutes to the baking times noted above
- Remove the pizza from the oven, and transfer it from the pan to a rack to cool slightly before serving