Once or twice during my childhood, my mother made pizza at home, probably with one of my sisters, who were into cooking. Or, at least one of them was—my memory is better at recalling the elegant brown peaks of a long-ago lemon meringue pie, than who actually took it out of the oven. But I do recall hovering about the kitchen, with great anticipation, waiting for the dough to rise. It was all a great mystery to me, but it doesn’t have to be confusing to you.
Making your own pizza dough is easy. Nina and I made a batch this weekend, and we wanted to share the recipe with you. I’d like to say that this is my mother’s old family recipe, but it’s not. It’s Mark Bittman’s, and I thank him for bringing to the masses the basics of cooking that have been lost to a generation, through his books (chiefly “How to Cook Everything”) and his other writings. He likes to use a food processor to make this dough. To find those instructions, pick up a copy of “How to Cook Everything.” Otherwise, make it by hand. Here’s how I do it:
- 1 teaspoon yeast (see note)*
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
- 1 1/4 cups + water
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
Combine half the flour with the yeast and salt, mix well.
Add the water and the two tablespoons of oil.
Mix with a wooden spoon.
Slowly add the remaining flour, mixing with the wooden spoon.
If necessary, add a touch more water—you want it moist but not sticky.
When it thickens to the point where it’s hard to mix with the spoon, kneed the dough until smooth, about ten minutes (or less), forming a roundish ball.
Grease a clean bowl with the remaining oil, and place the ball of dough in it to rise.
Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm room for two hours, until it doubles in size, or in the refrigerator for six to eight hours.
Makes enough dough for two large pizzas or four modest ones; serves four.
A quick note on kneading: If you don’t know how to do it, there’s nothing to it. Even a child can do it. Here's Nina demonstrating (the punching is optional):
*And speaking of confusion, when I checked this post for an online link to Bittman’s recipe, I discovered that I might have been using the wrong kind of yeast all along. His recipe calls for “instant or rapid-rise” yeast. I’ve been using “active dry yeast” all along. What’s clear, though, is it works for my family. Nina wanted me to be sure to say that you should make more dough. She didn’t feel like there was enough pizza for her. If you want more clarity about the different yeasts, this post on The Kitchn is helpful.