For the pizza crust, we started with our Breadstick recipe and tweaked it just a little bit. My favorite thing about this recipe is how forgiving it is. Didn't plan ahead and mix up the dough? No problem. All you need is a minimum 10 minute rest for the dough but it can hang out for 4 hours or so if you need/want to mix up the dough in advance.
In my experimenting I used to pre-bake the crust, then top it and stick in back in the oven. No one likes doughy pizza and it was the only way I could avoid it. Eventually, I found that by baking it at a super high temperature, you really don't need the extra step. Plus high-temperature-baking= only 7 minutes or so in the oven (depending on how thick you roll your crust). Even my almost-2-year-old can be patient enough to wait 7 minutes for dinner to cook.
Here are a few other tips and tricks that we've discovered over the years to making the perfect pizza:
- For an extra delicious crust, brush all the way to the edges with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with garlic salt before topping.
- Roll it thinner than you think you need to. My hubby will always choose standard crust over a thin and crispy, but the dough will rise, so I have to roll it quite a bit thinner than I actually want it to be after it is baked. The recipe that follows will yield two 12-16" standard crusts--even bigger if you like them extra thin and cracker-like.
- Since we eat it every week, pizza isn't really a splurge meal for us, so if you're looking to lighten it up, here are a few suggestions. I usually use 1 cup whole white wheat flour in each recipe for a little extra fiber and nutrition. If you substitute whole wheat flour for more than half, you will need to allow extra rise time or you'll sacrifice your light, airy crust for a pretty dense one. Also, the olive oil in the dough can be reduced or eliminated completely and still have a darn delicious pizza. It will change the texture of the dough slightly. I omit the oil about half of the time. I'm sure you will find that the easiest way to reduce calories won't be in the crust though--it will be reducing the cheese and loading up your pizza with veggies instead of pepperoni and sausage.
- Don't be scared of the high-baking temperature. If your oven cooks hotter than most, you can lower the temperature by 15-25 degrees. Also, if your oven is like mine and doesn't heat super evenly--spin your pizza pan around 180 degrees half-way through the baking for perfectly browned edges.
- See our favorite pizza-making tools for more awesome pizza-making tips and suggestions.
Perfect Pizza Crust
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 - 3 1/2 cups flour (bread flour or all purpose both work great here)
In mixing bowl add warm water, sugar and instant yeast. Let sit for 3 minutes or so until sugar and yeast are softened. Since it's instant yeast there is really no need to let it proof like regular yeast (if all you have is regular yeast - let it sit for 5 minutes or so until it's slightly bubbly).
Add salt, oil, and flour and knead in mixer for 3 minutes or by hand for 5-8 minutes. You want the dough to pull away from the sides of the bowl or counter (just don't over flour the dough or it will turn out a little dry and chewy). You'll know the dough is floured well when it pulls from the sides and still has a slight tacky touch to it.
Let dough rest for 10 minutes. Divide dough in two. Makes two 12-14 inch (medium-sized) pizza crusts. Roll into a circle and bake on pizza pan or stone at 500 degrees F for 6-12 minutes with desired sauce, cheese, and toppings. It’s done when lightly browned and cheese is bubbly. (The cooking time varies greatly with the thickness of the rolled dough and your oven, so keep a close eye on it the first time and adjust from there if necessary.)
This dough freezes great. I freeze it in quart freezer bags with enough dough for one crust. Move from fridge to freezer the morning of or night before you plan to use it. Remove from fridge 30 minutes to an hour before rolling out to allow dough to come to room temperature. .
Adapted from Diana King’s Breadstick recipe