Pizza is happy food that’s fun to make. Sure, carryout pizza is convenient, but are you ever really happy with the inevitable soggy crust?
In just a bit more time than you’d spend waiting for home delivery, you can create your own crusty pie heaped with your favorite toppings. This recipe for a crust baked in a pan is the one to start with when you’re starting to make pizza.
This article is the first in our pizza series to show how easy it is to turn your kitchen into a pizzeria.
Basic Pizza Dough
Makes one 14-to-16-inch round pizza crust, 1 large calzone, or 4 individual calzoni
1 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1 envelope (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/4 to 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
To prepare by hand: Coat a large bowl with cooking spray.
In a mixing bowl, combine the water and the yeast to dissolve. Add the oil and 1 cup flour. Beat until smooth. Add 1 cup flour and salt; beat until smooth. Add 1/4 cup flour. Stir until the mixture comes together.
Place the remaining 1/2 cup flour on a work surface. Push most of the flour to the side. Turn the dough onto the surface. Sprinkle lightly with some of the flour. With a dough scraper or spatula, fold the dough onto itself several times to get rid of surface stickiness.
With your hands, knead for up to 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and springy. Use additional flour only to prevent surface sticking. Some flour may remain on the work surface for rolling the crust later.
Place in the prepared bowl. Coat lightly with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to rise for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Punch down the dough. Transfer to the work surface. Knead lightly and shape into a ball. Use scant amounts of flour to prevent sticking. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Shape, add toppings, and bake according to recipe directions.
To prepare in a food processor: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a plastic or metal blade, process the ingredients according to recipe directions.
To prepare with an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the ingredients according to recipe directions.
To freeze the dough after the first rise: Punch down the dough and shape into a ball. Coat well with cooking spray. Place in a freezer-quality plastic bag. Squeeze out all air and close tightly. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month. To thaw, place in the refrigerator overnight. With scissors, cut away the plastic bag. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Shape according to the recipe directions.
To freeze the unbaked pizza crust: Roll or pat the dough according to recipe directions. Place on a pizza pan dusted with cornmeal. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, then wrap in aluminum foil. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month. To bake, remove from the freezer (no need to thaw). Remove wrappings. Top and bake according to recipe directions.