Delicious and Easy Pizza Dough

no knead pizza dough -

The title says it all – this pizza dough really is delicious and easy. All you need is some time, but most of it is the planning ahead kind of time. You just need to mix up the ingredients and wait. We ate pizza twice this week – once when the dough sat in the fridge for two days, one after four – and the second round was even better! So if you can plan that far in advance, I recommend the three to four day ferment.

The most difficult part about making pizza dough at this time in history (Covid 19 times) is sourcing flour and yeast!  I happen to have half a jar of yeast in my fridge from “before,” and managed to find some flour recently – lucky me!

I’m not going to suggest toppings at this time, but I will say that it seems best when the toppings are minimal, as things get a bit mushy on pizza if there’s too much moisture on top. So a few well-chosen ingredients will be amazing on here. The one in the photo is just a simple tomato sauce with Mozzarella, but we also had a potato pizza, which was surprisingly good.

This is a Jim Lahey recipe, the guy who made this no-knead method so well known.

The recipe makes enough for four medium-sized hand-stretched pizzas. If you want a thin crust pizza it makes four large pizzas.

What you need:

  • 500 grams (3 & ¾ cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough
  • 1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • 16 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
  • 350 grams (1 & ½ cups) water

What you do:

  1. Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl.
  2. Add the water (room temperature) and mix it in until it is fully combined.
  3. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap. Let the dough sit on a counter for about 18 hours. It could take longer if it is in a very cold room, but less if it is very warm. When it has about doubled in size you will know it is ready.
  4. At this point the dough is ready to use, but I think the tastiest pizza crusts are made with dough that has sat in the fridge for a few days. So go ahead and skip to step #7 if you want to make pizza today.
  5. Cut the dough into four equal pieces and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a few days. You could even freeze a ball or two for a few weeks.
  6. Take the pizza out of the fridge a few hours (minimum 3 hours, but longer is okay too) before you want to begin making it. Unwrap the plastic wrap, put the dough on a plate. Place the plastic wrap on top of the dough, tucking it in lightly so the dough can expand. I like to put a tea towel on top of the dough while it sits.
  7. Heat the oven as high as it will go. Get your toppings ready.
  8. I like to drizzle a bit of olive oil on the pan, but only where the dough will be or it will burn.
  9. Take a ball of dough and press it into the centre, then hold it in your fingers and let the weight of the dough stretch it, turning it as it stretches. Here is a video with some dough-stretching tips, since it’s a bit difficult to describe. 
  10. Place the dough on the baking tray, put your toppings on it, and stick it in the oven. Depending on the thickness of the dough and the toppings you’ve put on it, it could be ready in 5-10 minutes.
  11. Eat it while it’s hot! 

Bocconcini, Cherry Tomato and Pesto Pizza

pizza - trust in kim

Time again for making pizza in the brick oven up at the cabin.  My Opa built it over 30 years ago, in the same style as the one they used when they lived in Paraguay.  Of course, those of you without a Paraguayan brick oven are welcome to use a regular oven, and this is the process I will describe here.

The dough, which needs to be started the day before, and the sauce recipes are from A16 Food and Wine by Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren. This is my favourite pizza crust and I believe it is worth the extra effort, but I hear there is also some really good ready-made pizza dough out there, like the one at Trader Joe’s.

This recipe makes enough for 3-4 medium-sized pizzas with a thin crust.  Of course you can make yours with any toppings you like, but I recommend that more is less. I’ve only included toppings for one pizza here, so you can come up with a few other ideas for toppings for the other ones. Our favourite combination of toppings this time around was the prosciutto and mushroom one, but I didn’t manage to get a picture of that one.

What you need for the crust:

  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 & 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups “oo” flour or all-purpose (I used all-purpose)

What you need for the tomato sauce and toppings for one pizza:

  • one 28-ounce can of tomatoes (San Marzano if you can find them)
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • 7-8 baby bocconcini, sliced
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved and seeds removed
  • a few tablespoons of pesto, store-bought or this recipe
  • about 1/2 cup grated smoked gruyere, or cheese of your choice

What you do:

1. Begin preparing the dough a day before you want to make the pizza. You can do this by hand, but it’s just a bit more work. Pour the warm (not hot – just body temperature) water into a mixer fitted with a dough hook and then sprinkle the yeast on top.  Leave it for about 10 minutes and it should become foamy – if it doesn’t your water was the wrong temperature, or the yeast is dead.  Stir in the olive oil and salt.  Add the flour and mix on low for 2 minutes.  Knead on medium-low for about 10 minutes – it will pull away from the bowl and begin to look smoother.  Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it rest for 5 minutes. Knead once more on medium-low for 10 minutes – it will be smooth and quite soft.  If it seems much too sticky you can add a little more flour.  Coat a bowl with a little olive oil and then coat both sides of the dough with olive oil, placing the dough in the bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge over night.

2. In the morning remove the  dough from the fridge and punch it down.  Fold the sides of the dough under and put it back in the bowl.  Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it sit in a warm (not hot) place until about 2 hours before you are going to use it.

3. Punch the dough down and divide it into 4 pieces.  Form them into balls and cover them with a damp towel for about 2 hours.  By this time the dough should have doubled in volume.  If it starts to get a skin on it you can spray it with a little water.

4. To prepare the sauce, just put the tomatoes and juice into a bowl and squish them into little bits with your hands.  Add the salt.

5. Preheat the oven to 500-550 F.

6. To form the crusts, shape the dough into a disk with your hands.  Push down in the center with your palm and pull the dough out gently with your other hand, rotating slightly until you have a crust that is about 10-12 inches/25-30 cm in diameter with a slightly raised edge. (or you can use a rolling-pin) Dust your baking pan generously with flour and place the crust on it.  I don’t have a proper pizza stone or pan, and the baking tray I used worked just fine.

7. Spread some tomato sauce onto the crust, then the tomatoes, dollops of pesto, bocconcini slices, and the gruyere on top. 

8. Bake for 6-7 minutes, until the crust is crisp and golden, and the top is bubbling.

Paraguayan brick oen - trust in kim