I was thrilled when my mom and dad from Beijing shared their recipe for the perfect pizza dough on the internet back in 2014. As a vegetarian, I modified it to make a delicious veggie pizza topped with colorful bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. You may find a hilarious look at our pizza fetish and the veggie pizza recipe on our blog.
But the other day, we ordered pizza for a relaxing night on a Saturday. The crust, as always, was flawless, coming out chewy but crunchy, with a crispy bottom and a delightful sprinkling of crust bubbles. As we tucked in, we discussed how the tiny, weak pansy oven we had in Beijing had horribly wrecked our first article. In fact, this oven has been used for EVERY single one of our pizza and flatbread recipes.
I am obligated to add that there is a peculiar dynamic at home… Although I could improve at following recipes in general, there are a few where my skills shine. This is demonstrated by the severe shortcomings of the same recipe made by different hands… nonetheless, I will not be specific about who.
I really don’t want to sound like a braggart. Still, my little hands have figured out how to perfectly get the dough to the appropriate consistency and shape to make the best pizza at home. While Mr. Jamie Oliver deserves all the credit for the recipe, a perfect outcome still necessitates a little extra effort beyond what is called for in his directions.
So, without further ado, here is our updated Foolproof Pizza Dough, which is FULL of information to help you make pizza that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of them, and two recipes to go along with it: Veggie Supreme Pizza and a Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato White Pizza.
For the dough:
- 2 1/2 cups of warm water
- 1 tbsp. of sugar
- 2 1/4 oz. of packets active dry yeast (use 4 1/2 teaspoons if you’re using bulk yeast)
- 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
- 7 cups of bread flour or all-purpose flour (or a blend of the two! I’ve achieved excellent results with all combos)
- 1 level tbsp. of fine sea salt
For the Pizza Toppings:
- jarred or homemade tomato sauce(your preferred ones, warmed)
- 1 small onion (sliced thinly)
- 1 block of mozzarella cheese (grated)
- 1 cup of grape tomatoes (halved)
- 1 small potato (sliced into extremely thin rounds and tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper)
- 1/3 of a Japanese eggplant (sliced into extremely thin rounds, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper)
- 3 cups of spinach leaves roughly chopped
- Large handful of torn fresh basil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2/3 cup of ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup of roughly chopped sun-dried tomatoes
Making the dough:
- Sugar and warm water should be mixed together in a big bowl until completely dissolved. Use a fork to combine the yeast and olive oil, breaking up any clumps of yeast. To get it super foamy and blown up in the bowl, give it a quick toss and let it sit for 15-20 minutes.
- Then, with a wooden spoon or spatula, gradually add your flour while beating it until it’s nice and frothy. It’s best to add salt after brewing the first cup. Tossing in more flour. If it’s too runny after adding the fifth cup, gradually work up to the full six cups. If the dough is dry enough, you can start kneading it. Since you will be adding flour as you knead the dough, I always add more than the recipe calls for during the mixing part.
- Incorporate additional flour while kneading (between 5 and 10 minutes) to achieve a smooth, elastic dough. In the beginning, it will adhere to your hands; scrape it off and add more flour as needed. As you admire your gorgeous dough, it’s a good idea to measure out the remaining amount of flour (so, 7 cups less than what you’ve already added) to ensure you don’t add too much.
- Sprinkle more fresh flour in the bottom of the bowl and on top of the dough until it is smooth and elastic and all of the dough scraps have been incorporated into the dough; cover with a warm wet towel, and let rise in a warm room or a closed oven for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
- When you’re ready to use the dough, pound it down, wrap it in plastic, and chill it. Others may disagree with me, but if I don’t use the dough immediately away, it starts to develop an unpleasant yeasty flavor in the fridge.
- Prepare the oven to roll out the crust by preheating it to 500 degrees. Remember to put your stone in the oven if you’re using one. Flour a work surface generously and roll out the dough. I can’t stress this point enough: if you plan on cooking your pizza on a stone in the oven, the dough has to be slightly pliable on the cutting board, even when loaded with toppings, so that it can be transferred onto the stone with minimal effort. Seriously. This is a warning. The usage of a pizza stone necessitates the use of a wooden board as a makeshift pizza peel. Simply roll out the dough on a sheet pan.
- Now comes the challenging part. Pressing out dough. Seems easy enough; simply get a rolling pin and squish away till you get a nice circle. WRONG.
- When you first get your hands on the glob of dough, you should flatten it out into a rough circular using floured hands. It’s now thick enough to measure one inch. Then, you should use your fists. This is a pizza parlor-level skill, yet it’s really quite simple! Putting the dough on your closed fists and imagining yourself executing tiny vertical fist pumps while twisting your hands will do the trick. The dough will expand by its weight as you work with it. To top it all off, the dough will expand from the middle (where your fists hit the dough) outward, giving you a somewhat thicker edge than you started with. The bread is yours! Now it’s up to you to keep the dough from getting too thin and prevent holes from appearing as it rises. This is what you want to do until the dough is approximately a quarter of an inch thick. An irregularity of 1/8″ to 1/4″ is acceptable. You can think of it as a friend. Position the dough on a surface that has been generously dusted with flour.
- Here’s where you should get out the rolling pin if you’re one of those who insist on a perfectly round pizza. Don’t let the pin squash the crust; roll out from the middle. The dough shouldn’t be rolled out in the standard Paula Deen pie crust fashion but rather with the rolling pin inclined to follow the radius of the dough until a circle is formed with a raised crust. Thus, instead of rolling outward from the center, you roll around the dough’s circumference. Never press down too hard on the crust with the pin. The pin should be bent at a tiny angle (about 15 to 20 degrees) to maintain the desired crust height. If bubbles form, that’s great; gently poke them with a pin or your fingers to move them to the edges (those are your crust bubbles).
- Now. It’s time to add the garnishes.
Making the Veggie Supreme Pizza:
- The sauce is ready. Distribute it uniformly over the pie. Dot the pie with half the mozzarella cheese, then sprinkle over the cut onions. Toss in some grape tomatoes, layer on the spinach and basil, followed by the potato and eggplant rounds. Add extra mozzarella, salt and pepper, and olive oil as desired. Ten to fourteen minutes at 500 to 550 degrees F.
Making the Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato White Pizza:
- Olive oil should be used to coat the dough of your pizza. Sprinkle some onion and cherry tomatoes over ricotta cheese and spread. Cover the pizza dough with half the mozzarella, then add the spinach, basil, and sun-dried tomato. Season with salt & pepper and a generous helping of cheese, then drizzle with olive oil. To bake, set the oven temperature between 500 and 550 degrees and bake for 10 to 14 minutes.