We have a tradition of having homemade pizza for dinner every Friday night. Not only is it fun but it makes meal planning and shopping easier. Making pizza at home instead of ordering from a restaurant saves us so much money and it’s just plain delicious!
I have a standard pizza: Italian sausage, cheese, red sauce, and a few vegetables. Sometimes we will add pepperoni or olives or use pesto instead of red sauce. Pizza is the easiest meal to customize!
Make it Your Own!
One way we change things up is to let everyone make their own pizza or make calzones. Typically I make 6 medium pizzas and just change up the vegetables on several to have some variety. The most important part for me is the crust. If your crust is good, the pizza is going to be good!
This is really a multi-purpose dough. I started using it years ago to make french bread and it’s great for that too. The best thing about it is that you can use it for french loaves, foccacia, pizza, rolls, buns, or really anything. Besides the recipe being simple, the method is so easy. This is the method I use for all my breads. Tips and tricks will be at the end.
Homemade Pizza Dough Recipe
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
Pour the water into a bowl large enough to mix and rise your dough in. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the water and let it sit until it starts to dissolve. You don’t need to wait for it to foam up unless the yeast is old and you want to be sure it’s still active. Stir in the flour and salt and mix to form a shaggy dough.
As soon as all the flour is mixed in and it looks shaggy like this photo you can stop mixing. Let the dough rest for 20 or 30 minutes so the flour can absorb the water and activate the yeast. This rest also starts the gluten formation which you will develop with stretch and folds instead of kneading. You don’t need to knead!
Above you can see the first stretch and fold of the dough. After the initial 20 to 30 minute rest you will get your hand wet so the dough won’t stick and pull one side of the dough up as high as it will easily stretch and fold it back over onto itself. I usually do 3 or 4 stretch and folds at a time. Then cover the dough and let it rest for another 20 to 30 minutes.
Part of the magic in making bread this way is seeing the change in the dough after every rest. It becomes more smooth and elastic each time, more than dough ever did for me with kneading. And it’s so much easier than kneading for 10 minutes!
After 4 stretch and fold sessions, let the dough rise until it’s doubled and airy. The fancy word for it is bulk ferment. Sounds nice huh! When it’s doubled and airy then it’s ready to make into pizza. I divide the dough into softball size pieces to make our medium-ish pizzas. Again, get your hand wet to handle the dough and it won’t stick.
Make and Bake
This recipe makes 2 medium pizzas, you could do 3 thin crust or one really big thick crust pizza if you wanted to. I triple or quadruple this recipe for us because you don’t want to run out of pizza!
After you top your pizza, bake it at as high a temperature as your oven will go. If you are baking more than one at a time you will want to rotate your pans since the lowest rack will give the pizza a nice golden crust on the bottom. No soggy bottom pizzas!
Tips and Tricks
- I bake my pizzas in disposable aluminum pans lined with parchment paper. It’s easier to manage lighter pans in the oven and I can fit 4 at a time in my full-sized oven.
- Parchment paper keeps the pizzas from sticking and makes it easy to clean up. It’s the best!
- For incredible crust bake the pizzas in cast iron skillets. It’s amazing but heavy, tricky to handle when super hot, and more cleanup. It’s my favorite pizza but not practical for making as many as I need to feed these people.
- Swap part of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat.
- Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the dough for a softer crust.