Living in Ohio, our wood burning oven is on hiatus in the dead of winter. But that doesn't stop me from making some pretty incredible pizza indoors. Truth is, I'm always amazed at the results I can get from my kitchen oven. It trumps anything I can carry out. Let's face it, pizza tastes best hot from the oven, not lukewarm from a cardboard box. Now you may think it takes advanced kitchen skills to pull this off, but I'm here to tell you that it doesn't. Let me show you how I do it. The recipe can be found at the bottom of the post.
Pizza dough couldn't be easier to make. I use the Jim Lahey No Knead method which works incredibly well. You need a bowl, wooden spoon, and 4 ingredients: water, yeast, flour, and salt. Mix them together in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise on your kitchen counter for about 18 hours or until it has more than doubled. So make the dough after dinner, (it takes 5 minutes) and it will be ready to use the next day by dinner time. There's no need to proof the yeast, take the temperature of the water, or knead the dough. Simple, right?
After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured surface. Dust with some flour if it's sticky.
Divide the dough in half.
Cut each half to make 4 equal pieces.
Shape into balls by tucking the right side of the dough under. Repeat with the left, top, and bottom, until all 4 sides have been folded under creating a neat little ball. Dust them with flour if necessary. They are now ready to use, or can be refrigerated for future use. Individually wrap the balls in plastic wrap to store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When you're ready to make pizza, return them to room temperature by removing the plastic wrap and setting them out on a lightly floured surface covered in a damp dish towel for about 1-2 hours.
Shaping and Topping:
When you are ready to bake, place a baking stone onto the middle rack of your oven and crank the temperature up to 500F for 30 minutes, then switch to the broiler for 10 minutes. Make sure your oven is clean so it doesn't start smoking at these high temperatures. If you don't own a stone or want to invest in one, you can substitute an inverted baking sheet. Although I have never used one, I hear it works fairly well. You can find instructions on how to do that here. Working with the pizza dough one ball at a time, cover the others with a damp kitchen towel.
There are several techniques used in shaping pizza dough and many videos on YouTube that demonstrate exactly how it's done. Here's one good example. I shape it by hand, never with a rolling pin. Make sure to handle the dough lightly. You don't want to deflate all the beautiful bubbles created by the yeast.
Place the shaped dough onto a floured pizza paddle. Add your favorite toppings, but don't pile them on too thick, (see recipe below for a basic margherita pizza). Give the paddle a shake periodically to make sure the dough isn't sticking. Work quickly, then with a quick, jerking motion, slide the pizza onto the stone. Broil for about 5 minutes or until the top is nicely charred, but not burnt, and the cheese is bubbling. Using the peel, transfer the pizza from the oven to a serving tray.
And here you have it, a delicious restaurant quality pizza that you can make at home!
Looking at this crust, you'd think it came from a pizza shop with a wood burning oven!
How to make great pizza at home
makes 4 balls. Each ball makes one 10 inch pizza.
- 3-3/4 cups (17-1/2 oz.) all purpose flour
- 1/4 t. active dry yeast
- 2 t. salt
- 1-1/2 cups water, at room temperature
Add ingredients to a mixing bowl. Combine well with a wooden spoon until you have a sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for about 18 hours or until more than doubled in size.
Turn out onto a floured surface. Dust with flour. Cut in half, then cut each half to make a total of 4 equal pieces. Shape into balls by tucking the right side of dough under, then the left, top, and bottom. Dust with flour if sticky. The dough is now ready to use, or can be refrigerated for future use. Wrap the balls individually in plastic wrap to store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring them back to room temperature before baking, by leaving them out on the counter, covered with a damp towel for about 1- 2 hours.
topping; Quantity is for one 10 inch pizza except for the sauce which is more than enough for all four pizzas.
- 28 oz. can plum tomatoes, peeled and whole
- 2T. olive oil plus a sprinkle for the pizza
- pinch salt
- 7 oz. fresh buffalo mozzarella in water, well drained
- 3 T. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 6 basil leaves or a handful of arugula
TOMATO SAUCE: This will make more sauce than you'll need for the 4 pizzas but will keep nicely in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Drain the liquid from the tomatoes, then roughly chop them in the food processor or squish them with your hands. Add 2 T. olive oil and a pinch of salt.
Dry the mozzarella with a towel and tear into 10-12 pieces.
Shaping, topping, baking:
Place a baking stone onto the middle rack of your oven and preheat the oven to 500F for 30 minutes. Switch to broil for 10 minutes. Have your toppings prepared and ready at room temperature. Shape the dough per instructions provided in the video above using the hand method, not the rolling pin and place on a floured pizza paddle. Spread about 1/2 cup of the tomato mixture (it shouldn't be too wet) and scatter the mozzarella evenly, leaving a 1 inch border. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a little olive oil. Give the paddle a shake periodically to make sure the dough isn't sticking. Work quickly, then with a quick, jerking motion, slide the pizza onto the stone. Broil for about 5 minutes or until the top is nicely charred, but not burnt, and the cheese is bubbling. Using the peel, transfer the pizza from the oven to a serving tray. Scatter with basil leaves or top with a handful of arugula. Serve while piping hot!
Don't miss a single post CLICK HERE to subscribe