Whether you prefer thin or thick, red or white sauce, meat or veggie, there’s no arguing that pizza is one of the most delicious comfort foods ever.
With a blanket of cheesy goodness and an endless array of toppings, this handheld flatbread is a meal on its own and definitely deserves to be celebrated.
Cue National Pizza Day.
Observed annually on Feb. 9, it honors one of the most popular foods in the States, with 3 billion pizzas consumed each year.
But you can forget calling in for delivery and skip right past the frozen section at the store because we’re going all out and making our own.
A pie as good as the restaurants can easily be made at home, and the key to achieving that lies in the crust. As the base of the pizza, it’s one of the most important components, and making freshly made dough is essential.
With five ingredients, this pizza dough is made in advance and creates the perfect crust. It’s crisp on the outside, with a chewy and tender interior.
After combining the dry ingredients (flour, salt and sugar) with the wet ingredients (a mixture of water, yeast and olive oil), the dough is kneaded, divided and placed in a refrigerator for as long as 72 hours.
This not only makes it convenient to cook on your own schedule, but also allows the dough to develop flavor as it naturally ferments.
About an hour before serving this pizza, you’ll let the dough sit to come to room temperature (making it easier to handle), then stretch and form it into the shape of your crust. After the desired sauce and toppings are added, it’s placed in a 500-degree oven.
Baking it on a preheated pizza stone or upside-down baking sheet helps create a crisp crust. The pizza bakes quickly, to a golden crust with bubbling cheese, in about 10 minutes.
This recipe makes two 10- to 12-inch pizzas and can easily be doubled for feeding a group or hosting a build-your-own pizza night.
For the dough:
2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon olive oil
Flour, cornmeal and desired sauce, cheese and toppings
Making the dough:
Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, stir together the water, yeast and olive oil, and then pour it into the flour mixture. Stir until combined.
When it comes together into a cohesive dough, turn onto counter and knead for 3 minutes, then let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Knead rested dough until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes.
Divide the dough in two even balls and place them in a freezer bag sprayed with nonstick spray or a sprayed container with a lid. Refrigerate overnight or as long as 72 hours.
Shaping the dough:
An hour before baking, remove the dough from fridge and let come to room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 500 degrees. If using a baking stone, place it on the middle oven rack before preheating (an upside-down baking sheet can work in its place, as well).
Lay two pieces of parchment paper, about 12 inches wide, on the workspace and lightly sprinkle each with flour and cornmeal. Take one of the dough balls and form it into a large disk. Lay the disk of dough on one of the parchment papers.
Work from the middle of the dough outward using the heel of your hand and fingertips to gently press and stretch the dough into a flat circle, leaving a 1/2-inch border for the crust. The finished pizza crust should be about 9 to 12 inches in diameter and about a 1/4-inch thick or less.
Repeat with the second piece of dough.
Topping and baking the dough:
Spoon about 1/4 cup of sauce into the center of each pizza and, using the back of a spoon, spread it to the edge of the crust. Sprinkle on cheese and desired toppings.
Using a pizza peel (a cutting board or backside of a baking sheet works, too), slide your pizza, along with the parchment paper, onto the baking stone/sheet in the oven.
Bake for about 7-10 minutes or until crust is lightly golden. Remove your pizza from the oven.
Repeat with second pizza. Slice and serve.
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