Perfect Pizza Dough
(recipe, Rose Levy Beranbaum)
What I like most in a pizza crust is something between a thin, crisp crust and the more bready old style. This pizza recipe makes a 10-inch pizza, which I find perfect for two people.
- ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon flour (4 ounces), preferably unbleached all-purpose or Italian-style
- ½ tsp. instant yeast
- ½ tsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- ⅓ liquid cup water at room temperature (70 to 90 degrees)
- 4 tsp. olive oil
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, instant yeast, and sugar. Whisk in the salt (this keeps the yeast from coming into direct contact with the salt, which would kill it).
- Make a well in the center and pour in the water. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, gradually stir the flour into the water until all the flour is moistened and a dough just begins to form, about 20 seconds. It should come away from the bowl but still stick to it a little, and be a little rough-looking, not silky smooth. Do not overmix, as this will cause the dough to become stickier.
- Pour the oil into a 2-cup measuring cup (to give the dough room to double in size) or a small bowl. With oiled fingers or an oiled spatula, place the dough in the oiled cup and turn it over to coat on all sides with the oil. Cover it tightly.
- If you want to use the dough soon, allow it to sit at room temperature for 1 hour or until doubled. For the best flavor development, make the dough at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours ahead, and allow it to sit at room temperature for only 30 minutes or until slightly puffy. Then set the dough, still in the measuring cup, in the refrigerator. Remove it 1 hour before you want to put it in the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees 1 hour before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone on it before preheating.
- With oiled fingers, lift the dough out of the measuring cup or bowl. Holding the dough in one hand, pour a little of the oil left in the cup or bowl onto the pizza pan, and spread it all over the pan with your fingers. Set the dough on the pan and press it down with your fingers to deflate it gently. Shape it into a smooth round by tucking under the edges. If there are any holes, knead it very lightly until smooth. Allow the dough to sit for 15 minutes, covered, to relax it.
- Using your fingertips, press the dough from the center to the outer edge to stretch it into a 10-inch circle, leaving the outer ½ inch thicker than the rest to form a lip. If the dough resists stretching (as will happen if you have activated the gluten by overkneading it), cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for a few minutes longer before proceeding.
- Brush the surface of the dough with any remaining olive oil. Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to sit for 30 to 45 minutes, until it becomes light and slightly puffy with air.
- Set the pizza pan directly on the hot stone and bake for 5 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and spread toppings (such as Pizza Tomato Sauce) over the dough. Return the pan to the stone for 5 minutes or until the toppings have melted and the crust is golden; or, for an extra-crisp and browned bottom crust, using a pancake turner or baker's peel, slide the pizza from the pan directly onto the stone. After 2 minutes, slip a small metal spatula under one edge of the pizza; if the bottom is golden, raise the pizza to a higher shelf.
- Transfer the pizza to a cutting board and cut with a pizza wheel, sharp knife, or scissors. Serve hot.
You will need a baking stone as well as a steel pizza pan for this recipe.