Admittedly, I avoided making pizza dough for years. It seemed too daunting, messy and time consuming. My default was always to pick up my phone and order delivery. In the odd occasion when I wanted to make my own pizza, a prepared dough from the store would satisfy my needs.
A few months ago, something strange happened. Delivery drivers started getting lost. I live in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. My house is easily found on any map app. Seemingly quick orders would take well over an hour and a half to arrive.
Once deliveries started taking longer than making the dough myself, I knew it was time to attempt foolproof recipe. Plus, I always have bits and bobbles of ingredients laying around that translate well into exceptionally creative topping combinations. Don’t worry if your cabinets are bare of pizza sauce. A drizzle of olive oil and chopped garlic is a perfect base for a cheesy white pizza.
Foolproof Pizza Dough
Makes 2 – 4 pizzas, depending on the size you prefer
All-purpose flour – 3 ½ cups, plus more for kneading
All purpose salt – ¾ teaspoon
Instant yeast – 2 ¼ teaspoon, one standard packet
Sugar – 3 teaspoons
Water – 1 1/3 cup, warm to the touch
Olive Oil – 2 tablespoons, more for the rise
Cornmeal – 2 tablespoons for dusting
Add the flour, salt, instant yeast and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Form a well in the center for the wet ingredients.
Pour the warm water and olive oil into the center of the well. Using a non-serrated butter knife, stir the mixture in a clockwise motion while gently spinning the bowl in a counterclockwise motion until the dough is loosely combined.
This is where your clean hands will do the rest of the work. Using your hands, squeeze the dough together and knead in the bowl until all of the flour and dried bits come together.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Fold the sides of the dough inward and then push forward with the palm of your hand. Continue to knead the dough for 3 – 5 minutes, or until the ball forms a smooth ball. Lightly dust the board with flour as you knead to prevent sticking.
Coat a large bowl, the one you used to mix the dough will work fine, with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Don’t worry about measuring. Drizzling a bit of oil in the bowl will work just fine. Place the dough in the center of the bowl and flip to coat the ball in oil. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and allow the sphere to rise in a warm place for 30 – 40 minutes. The dough should be doubled in size. My kitchen seems to be warmer that other parts of the house. It’s perfectly fine if your dough takes longer than 40 minutes to double in size.
Gently punch down the dough and turn it onto a board that is lightly dusted with flour and corn meal. Cut the ball in half. This dough will make two pizzas. Stretch the dough, turning as you go, into a disk measuring 12 – 14 inches in diameter. Sometimes I cut the dough into four even balls of personal pizzas. If you tear a hold in the dough, pinch it together with fingers. The corn meal prevents the dough from sticking to your pan or pizza stone, while giving finished product a crunchy texture.
Coat the dough with your favorite sauce and layer on cheese and toppings. Bake in a pre-heated, hot oven of 475 degrees for 12 – 15 minutes. The crust should be golden on the bottom and the cheese should be completely melted on top.