This is a tried and true pizza dough recipe. We found it online at 101cookbooks.com. The key to this recipe is to make it 2-3 days before and let it rise slowly in the fridge so it slightly ferments just enough to make it taste just right. Letting it sit for this long also makes the crust just slightly chewy. The recipe is super simple. We recently had a backyard pizza bake and cooked our pizzas in our neighbor’s outdoor brick oven. There is nothing quite like pizza that comes out of a real brick oven! The best ever!
Three days before baking day make your dough. (You can make dough the same day but it doesn’t taste as good or have the same consistency. Still yummy, just not quite perfect)
4 ½ c. flour
1 ¾ tsp. salt
1 tsp instant yeast
¼ c. olive oil
1 ¾ c. water, ice cold (Put ice and water in a pitcher until cold, don’t let ice fall into the mixer)
Extra Flour and Corn Meal or Semolina to help avoid sticking
Follow exactly: Pour the flour, salt, and instant yeast into the mixer and mix together. Then with the mixer running on low, slowly pour in the oil and then ice cold water until the flour is all absorbed. Turn to high and mix for 5 to 7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are evenly mixed. You want the dough to be smooth and sticky. You will know it is done when the dough clears the sides of the mixing bowl and forms a ball.
Sprinkle flour on your counter and leave some on your hands. Knead the dough for a minute or two more and then roll it out with a rolling pin. We roll it onto a flour covered cookie sheet to make them into a rectangle for simple dividing. Divide the dough into four even pieces (eight if you doubled the recipe). Ball each of the sections and put in a baggie, or just leave in the pan with plenty of room around each ball so it can rise uninhibited. You can also cover the whole pan with cellophane instead of bagging each ball. Make sure you put flour down on the pan so the dough doesn’t stick to it. Put the pan into the fridge and leave to rise until baking day.
Pizza Baking Day:
Take the dough out of the fridge a couple hours before you bake to bring the dough to room temperature. Once warm, put flour on your hands and across a flat surface to roll out your dough. Also have on hand semolina or corn meal and put it on everything to prevent sticking. One by one, roll out the balls of dough. Once flat, hand toss to get extra stretch and that perfect circle and thinness of the dough (it takes a little practice but you can get it with just a couple tries, use your knuckles instead of finger tips to avoid tearing the dough).
If you are using a brick oven like we did, make sure and start the fire at least one hour before baking time. When it is burning white hot, it is ready. There is no need to use a pizza stone or a pan in a brick oven, you can use a wet towel if you want to clean off the ashes but it is sanitary at that heat. When ready to bake, throw the semolina or corn meal where you will place the pizza in the oven. You will need a pizza peel with a long handle because the fire gets very hot. A pizza peel is a long, very large spatula type tool you will use to place pizzas in the oven, turn it to bake evenly (you will need to rotate pizza to cook evenly) and remove it when done. Both wood and metal versions work well. Either way be generous with the corn meal on the peel or you won’t be able to get the raw dough off the peel and into the oven, don’t cook on the peel.
You can also use your oven and set it to as hot as it will go (500 – 800 degrees). Use a pizza stone (pre-heat) or the back of a cookie sheet but do not preheat the cookie sheet. Put semolina or corn starch on everything to prevent sticking. We had to relearn how to get the pizzas in the oven without it sticking. The secret is corn meal.
Topping your pizza to your preference is very fun. Put stretched circle of dough directly on the peel and then put toppings on. We typically gather the usual suspects, a bottle of spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce (spread thinly with a spoon), shredded mozzarella cheese, and many favorite toppings. We like pepperoni, ground sausage (pre-cooked), bacon (pre-cooked) and ham (pre-cooked). Melissa also likes pineapple (yuck!) but to each their own.
It takes about 5 to 8 minutes for the pizzas to cook. If using a brick oven you may have to add wood to keep the heat up as you go. Brick ovens also don’t cook evenly so watch the pizzas and rotate as needed. In your regular oven, you will not need to do this.
We also do some really cool specialty pizzas. Here are couple of the favorites (and below the S’mores pizza):
Chicken Garlic Alfredo Pizza
Garlic Alfredo sauce
Chicken (pre-cook and slice or cube)