#CoronaCooking: Pizza Madness

This is not the first time I've written about pizza on the blog—it's been my burden to bear pretty much forever. Kid who loves pizza plus mom who doesn't love pizza plus coronavirus shutdown is not an attractive combination, and I finally had to give in and start experimenting again after a long while. That meant four—count them, FOUR—pizzas over the course of a week, my friends. The sacrifices I make, I swear.

The recipe on my original post works just fine, but I think this crust is even better, after some experimentation. (Thanks to baker extraordinaire Jennifer Nerissa Davis for the tips.) Big bubbles and air pockets, chewy and with a real structure. I make a thin crust—be light-handed with your toppings.

Pizza Crust

Makes 2 x 16 inch pizzas or 3 x 12 inch pizzas

1.5 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
12 oz warm water
3-3/4 c all purpose flour (bread flour is better, but we're in quarantine)
2 tsp kosher salt

1. Put warm water and sugar in a bowl; sprinkle over yeast. Allow yeast to activate for 10 minutes or so.

2. Add flour and salt. Mix with your hands into a rough dough—it will be tacky, that's okay. Knead for 5 minutes or so.

3. Throw dough into a ziplock bag. Put into refrigerator for at least 24 hours—but frankly, 48 or even 72 hours works even better. (At this point, if you only want to use part of the dough, cut into two or three pieces and put the others into their own ziplock bags; you can refrigerate for use in a day or two, or leave in fridge for a day or two and then freeze for future use.)

4. Two or two and a half hours before you want to eat, take bag out of fridge and leave on counter. (If you're using dough that you've frozen, take it out of the freezer 24 hrs before and put it in the fridge; proceed from there.)

5. Lightly flour a cutting board or the countertop. Pull the dough out of the bag (it will look like a sticky mess, but don’t worry—scrape it out and dump it onto the floured surface. Flip it over once or twice and it will more or less magically coalesce into an actual ball of dough.

6. Shape the dough. You can use a pizza peel if you're planning on using a pizza stone, but I just use a pizza pan in a hot oven. (Put cornmeal or flour on the pizza peel, lightly oil the pizza pan.) Shaping is really just a matter of making a disc, and sort of pushing it outwards into a bigger circle with your fingers. Lift it up from one side if you want to allow gravity to stretch it out. Or just leave it on the tray or peel and lift it and shape it bit by bit till you have a thin circle. Be gentle with it. If it starts to fight back, step away for a few minutes until it relaxes, and keep going.

7. NOW start preheating the oven as hot as you can get it —my oven goes to 500˙F so that's what I use. Give the shaped dough some time to relax and puff. After about 30 minutes, you can top it: no more than 1/4 c of pizza sauce (see here), about 4 oz of shredded mozzarella, plus a dusting of whatever toppings you want. We're fans of thinly sliced red onion, thinly sliced mushrooms, and browned Italian sausage.

8. When the oven is fully heated, slide pizza into oven. It should take around 10-12 minutes to bake—keep an eye on it. The crust should be brown and crisp, and the cheese and toppings fully cooked.

9. Remove from oven, let rest for a few minutes, then cut and enjoy.


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