AJ really likes pizza. I mean, he really likes it. Ever time we make it he says, without fail, “This is going to be the best dinner ever!” And it usually is.
I, on the other hand, am usually a bit more skeptical. I know it’s going to be good – better than I can get at any ol’ pizza joint. But I also have this habit of over-analyzing anything I bake, pizza included. For us, the quality of the pizza is all about the crust. It has to be crunchy, but not at all burnt. It hast to be fluffy in the inside, and strong enough to hold up to generous amounts of topping. It has to be just right.
I’ve tried numerous recipes for pizza crust. They’ve all been good, but not quite what I was looking for. They either didn’t brown right, were too bread-y, or just didn’t have that flavor I was searching for. But finally, I can stop looking.
This pizza crust is amazing.
It is by far the best crust I have ever made, and doesn’t involve an overnight retardation process (though it can be frozen for use later!!!). It is really very easy, makes a strong dough, and crisps up so beautifully.
I made a pesto spread for mine (recipe soon!), and AJ topped his with a marinara sauce and copious amounts of cheese. Both are delicious, but the crust still steals the show. Are you ready? Here we go!
Sicilian Pizza Crust
5 oz all-purpose flour
13 oz bread flour
8 oz semolina flour (key ingredient!)
2 tsp salt
3 1/2 tsp yeast
1 oz (2 Tbsp) olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
17.5 oz water
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix by hand for 7-8 minutes, or in a machine for 6-7 minutes. Form a smooth ball and transfer it to an oiled bowl. Spray the dough with a bit of spray oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 75-90 minutes, until doubled in size.
It is helpful to do two stretch-and-folds while the dough is rising. Just pull the dough up from one side and fold it over the top. Rotate the bowl and repeat 3 more times. Do the whole thing twice, at about 30 and 60 minutes.
After the dough is done rising, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.* Divide the dough in 4 equal portions (or 6 for thin-crust pizzas) and form small balls by pulling the sides of the dough under to the bottom. Pinch the seals shut and set on the counter seam side down. If the dough is too sticky, you can either spray some spray oil on your hands, or dust the dough and your hands with flour. Cover with plastic wrap to avoid drying out.
Take one of the balls and form it into a crust by rolling it out or throwing it in the air like a pro. There are plenty of videos on this subject on YouTube, and I highly recommend watching some of them. I plan on doing a tutorial one of these days, so look forward to that soon!
Place the dough on a piece of parchment, cover with plastic wrap (yes, you can reuse the same one!) and set aside. Repeat for the remaining dough. Let the dough proof for about 45 minutes, until it is puffy again. While the dough is proofing, preheat your oven to 450F. It takes a while for most ovens to get there, so do it early.
Poke the dough with a fork all over, and slide the first crust into the oven, parchment and all. A pizza peel or thin cutting board works well here. Bake for 7 minutes, until it is just barely starting to brown in some spots. Remove from the oven, apply toppings, and pop it back in for another 8-10 minutes. You can cook the other crust while you are applying the toppings to the first – it’s not too time sensitive.**, ***
You’ll know it’s done when it is nicely browned around the edges, and the toppings are starting to sizzle. Let cool on a cooling rack for a few minutes, cut, and enjoy!
*This is a great place to stop and freeze some of the dough. Just separate out the portion you want to save, place it in a labeled freezer-safe zip-top bag, and throw it in the freezer. When you go to make it again (I know you will), take it out of the freezer 4 hours before you shape it into rounds again.
**I highly recommend using a baking stone, as it will yield the absolute best crust with the most even cooking. Similarly, I recommend cooking only one pizza at a time. It takes a little longer, but is definitely worth it.
***I don’t cook the veggies before putting them on the pizza. I like the little bit of crunch the fresh veggies give it.
What are your favorite pizza toppings?
I’m a fan of piling everything in the fridge on top, from bell peppers to mushrooms to pineapple and broccoli. The more the merrier!