Great pizza is a revelation; bad pizza is just plain bad. While I've attempted homemade pizzas several times, it wasn't until I made pizza with my friend Erin that I realized just how easy it is to have great pizza without calling the delivery man.
Let me start my saying that my friend Erin is a cook, crafter, baker, and all-around uber-gal. She's never met a craft she didn't like, and there is no recipe she cannot follow. Needless to say, I trust her implicitly. Erin makes pizza every week for her family, which is a tradition I plan to start in the fall. Her secret weapon is a starter. A starter is water and flour that is left out to collect yeast in the air. A starter is the key to any sourdough bread; some bakeries have starters that are decades old. (Erin uses a starter that was passed to her from a foodie friend.) The type of flour you use is also important but that discussion require another blog post, so just use unbleached, all-purpose flour to get started.
To make your own, start with 1 cup of water and 1 cup flour in a bowl and cover lightly with a damp towel. Every 24 hours remove half the mixture and add a half cup of water and half cup of flour. Within a couple of days the mixture will begin to froth, which means the yeast is present and it's ready to use. At this point you can use the starter or store it in the fridge. When ready to use, remove it from the fridge and add a cup of warm water and a cup of flour to "wake up" the yeast. (This might take up to 24 hours, so plan accordingly.) Starters last for years in the 'fridge if you take good care of them! And once you taste this crust you'll see the difference. (The photo shows the uncooked dough before baking.)
Ron’s Pizza Crust
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 2 cups proofed starter
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons dried milk
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cups all-purpose flour (or more if needed)
- Let yeast dissolve in 1/2 cup warm, not hot, water. Add the yeast water along with the starter, salt, sugar, dried milk, cornmeal, olive oil, and flour to a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Knead for
for about 8 minutes. (If you don't have a mixer just use your hands.)
- Remove the dough hook and let the dough rise in a warm spot until it's double in size (about 1 to 2 hours) then knead back down.
Let rise again. (Erin usually lets it rise all day.)
- Punch down the dough, sprinkle lightly with flour so it doesn't stick, and roll out to desired pizza shapes. Top with favorite toppings and bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes or desired doneness.