Pizza night in our house always starts with a homemade crust. It needs to be thin, crispy yet chewy with gorgeous bubbles throughout. The good news is that this dough is super easy to make and with the right tools and techniques you can achieve the perfect crust every time.
The Recipe--adapted from recipe by chef Chris Bianco
2 (1/4 oz) packages of active dry yeast
3-4 cups artisan unbleached white flour, divided, plus additional for dusting
1 cup white-whole wheat flour
2 cups warm water (105-115ºF), divided
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt (optional)
Warm 2 cups of cold filtered or spring water in a small saucepan until it is tepid (105-115ºF). Whisk together yeast, 2 Tablespoons flour, and 1/2 cup warm water in a pint-sized liquid measuring cup and let stand until mixture develops a creamy foam, about 10 minutes. (If mixture does not foam, discard and start over with new yeast).
In a large bowl stir together 2 cups unbleached white flour, 1 cup white-whole wheat flour, and sea salt. Add yeast mixture and remaining 1 1/2 cups warm water and stir until smooth, then stir in 1 more cup white flour. If dough sticks to your fingers, stir in just enough flour (up to 3/4 cup), a tablespoon at a time until the dough just comes away from the side of the bowl. Note*-this dough may be wetter than other pizza doughs you've made.
Knead dough on a lightly floured work surface with floured hands until dough is smooth, soft and elastic, about 10 minutes. Form dough into a smooth ball.
Generally dust ball all over with flour and place back into the mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and/or a tea towel. Place in a warm draft-free area (next to stove works well) and let sit until it doubles in size 1-2 hours.
Note: Dough can slowly rise in the refrigerator overnight. Bring it to room temperature before using.
Divide dough into 4 equal parts. This recipe makes 4 12" pizzas. Take 1 quarter of dough on a lightly floured surface and use fingertips to spread out in all directions until dough is about 12" in diameter and thin.
Assembly and Toppings
Transfer your crust to a cornmeal dusted pizza peel or very thin bamboo/wood cutting board. Lightly oil crust with extra virgin olive oil using your fingers. We make one big mixture of all of our toppings (expect for any greens-which we add after pizza is done) oiled and seasoned in a bowl. Using your hand spread out 2 good handfuls of topping mixture and then sprinkle with dried oregano. Slide pizza off of peel onto preheated super hot stone. The pizza should cook within 5 minutes. See tips and techniques below for details cooking instructions. Remove pizza using a peel-BE VERY CAREFUL-the pizza and stone are extremely hot and will burn you. Place greens (spinach, arugula and fresh herbs work well) on top of hot pizza and lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Cut into wedges and serve hot!
Tips and Techniques
I recommend using a baking stone or baking steel for cooking your pizza. Preheat your steel in the oven at 550ºF or as high as your oven will go for at least 45 minutes. You want the sucker hot! Real Napolitano wood fired oven pizza cooks in 90 seconds so the hotter you can make your oven the better. Use an additional stone if you have an extra to create even more heat above your pizza while it cooks. If you like charred crust place your stone in the upper level of your oven before preheating, and then when your pizza is is just cooked though (no longer then 5 minutes if your temperature is right) switch your oven to broil and let the bubbles char for 30-60 seconds.