Like pretty much everyone, I love pizza. Always have, always will. There's something just so comforting in the crust (thick or thin), flavorful sauce, gooey cheese, and toppings. It starts when we are kids and sticks with us through adulthood. It is the ultimate comfort food.
Depending where you live, your taste for pizza changes as you get older. In Chicago, we live by our deep dish. I can definitely say most of my diet in my twenties was filled with late night pizza runs.
While I still love a good slice of deep dish (only one slice and not very often anymore), my favorite pizza is still homemade pizza. I remember vividly my mom making pizza with Chef Boyardee pizza kits. I'm not sure I want to know what they put in that dough mixture but it's what I love about homemade pizza today. (Note: I checked and they still sell the kits!)
When you look online for pizza dough recipes, there are way too many to comb through. I've tried recipes from cookbooks, online magazines, and celebrity chefs over the years. And, I keep coming back to this simple recipe I don't remember where it came from. It was on the back of a bag of Italian pizza flour I bought many moons ago. It's a chewy but crispy crust that is just perfect for a homemade pizza crust.
This recipe is simple with just a few ingredients. There isn't much work to knead the dough and if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, you can let the machine do all the work. If you can find it, use finely ground Italian pizza flour (like where I found this recipe). It's designated "00" on the bag and is pretty easy to find these days. All purpose flour works just fine, too.
The complaint I hear about making pizza dough is the time. Yes, it is a yeast dough and requires time to rise. But, you don't have to stick around to watch it proof. Go for a walk, work out, run errands, watch a movie. If you really don't have a lot of time to make the dough ahead of dinner, you can proof the pizza dough in the fridge overnight. The dough will be there all nice and fluffy for you to roll into homemade pizzas when you are ready.
Once you have the dough all ready to go, it's pizza making time!
P.S. If you don't have a tomato sauce that you love and like to use on pizza, check out my blog on tomato sauce that gives you a quick but fresh tomato sauce in about 20 minutes. You can make a batch of this and keep in your fridge/freezer until your next pizza craving.
Homemade Pizza Dough
4 cups Italian pizza flour or all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon active yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cup just warm water
Mix all ingredients in a bowl until the dough comes together. Then, knead on a lightly floured surface 8-10 minutes. You can also knead the dough in a stand mixer 5-6 minutes.
Place the ball of pizza dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with saran wrap and let rest until doubled in size about 2 hours. Or, you can put the bowl in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours. Just take the dough out for 10 minutes before shaping.
Divide the dough into 4 or 2 balls depending on the size of pizza you want. You can also refrigerate the balls of pizza dough up to 3 days (if you did not proof in the refrigerator).
Heat oven to 450. If you are using a pizza stone, make sure it is in the oven while it's pre-heating.
Take one of the balls of dough and press or roll into a round or square pizza. Top with tomato sauce, toppings, and cheese.
Place the pizza in the oven for 10 minutes for a small pizza and 12 minutes for a larger pizza or until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is crispy.
Remove from the oven and serve.