So quite often I will become obsessed with making something, and improving upon it, until I know I won't be able to make it any better. Recently, it's been pizza. I've tried lots of different recipes for crusts and toppings, and I think I've found my two favorites- Chicken Garlic and Pesto Tomato. I found that making the perfect pizza dough takes lots of practice! It really helped to use a pizza stone and a pizza peel, I think you really need these two items to make delicious pizza at home. Two big tips: Make sure the water you put in the dough is between 105 and 110 degrees (just warm), too hot and it will kill the yeast. Also, do NOT roll out the dough with a rolling pin, hand stretching can make all the difference between an OK crust and a delicious, chewy, pizzeria style crust.
Be patient! Really good crust can take up to 24 hours to make!
Pizza Dough Recipe
1 Tbs. active dry yeast
1 1/2 c. plus 3 Tbs. warm water
4 1/2 c. bread flour (all purpose is ok too)
2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. salt
3 Tbs. olive oil
Place yeast in bottom of small bowl, pour warm water over the yeast and let sit until bubbly, 5-10 minutes.
Combine all other ingredients, add yeast mixture. If using a Kitchenaid with dough hook attachment, use speed 2 and let run for 3-4 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.
If you don't have a kitchenaid, mix by hand and knead for 3-4 minutes.
Lightly oil the dough and the interior of a large bowl, place the ball in the bowl and seal air tight with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator overnight.
Three hours before you want to serve the pizza, remove from refrigerator. Punch down and form into a ball once more, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise on counter 1 1/2 hours.
Remove dough from bowl and cut (do not tear) dough into two pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Place in an oiled 13X9 pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise 45 minutes on counter.
Place pizza stone in oven and preheat to 500.
Working with one piece at a time, softly stretch dough until you've reached your desired crust size. Place on a pizza peel covered with cornmeal and top with sauce, cheese, and toppings. Open oven and slide pizza from peel to hot stoneware. Bake for approximately 7-8 minutes. Remove with pizza peel and place on cutting board to cool. Repeat with second dough ball.
I know it takes a long time to make, but it's really pretty simple and you won't believe the quality of pizza dough you'll have!
Chicken Garlic Pizza
1 recipe for pizza dough (see above)
Freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 c. ranch dressing
3 cloves garlic, minced
pepper to taste
3 green onions
1 Roma tomato
Combine ranch dressing, garlic, and pepper. Set aside.
I like to buy a rotisserie chicken, about 1 breast shredded will be enough. Chop tomato and green onions.
Top your pizza crust with the ranch dressing sauce, freshly grated mozzarella cheese, the chicken, tomato, and then green onion. Bake at 500 for 7-8 minutes.
Pesto and Tomato Pizza
1 recipe for pizza dough (see above recipe)
Pesto sauce (I like to buy the large jar from Costco)
Freshly shredded Mozzarella cheese
This is an easy one! Which is probably why I make this one most often! :)
Top crust with pesto, cheese, and tomatoes. Bake at 500 for 7-8 minutes.
If you want to make these pizzas over-the-top-amazing you can use fresh whole milk mozzarella cheese.