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Best Pizza Dough (Scratch Everything Else)

mushroom pizza

Here's the recipe I've been using for pizza dough the last several months.  What I'm blessing you with today (am I immodest or what?) are some new discoveries that will make it even more perfect.

Around here, it's well-known that Yancey's dough always turns out better than mine.  Our routine is that he makes the dough; I scrounge for toppings and prep them; and he assembles and bakes.  But there are lots of times when he's not home to be the DoughMaster, so I finally asked him to explain his method.  Here's what he said:

  • Even though this recipe is titled "No-Knead," don't take that to heart.  When I've actually followed the directions ("mix for 30 seconds"), the yeast hasn't gotten incorporated and it hasn't risen like I wanted it to.
  • It turns out better with bread flour, though I've definitely used all-purpose.
  • These proportions are supposed to make two baking sheets.  That's possible, but you'll get frustrated stretching the dough. What's PERFECT is one regular baking sheet (what the restaurant biz calls a "half sheet") and one quarter sheet pan.  I love my little one.  I use it for bar cookies all the time, too.  Stay away from nonstick ones, though.  We use the little sheet for a kid pizza (cheese or cheese and pepperoni) and the big one for us.  If you don't have one of those, use another big baking sheet, but only use half its surface.
  • Use lots of olive oil.  There actually isn't any oil in the recipe, but oil your pans liberally and brush some more oil over the dough before you spread the toppings on.

I got home last night, after being gone overnight for work, and the house was clean, the kids were full of stories (swimming at 9:00 p.m. on a school night, for instance), and pizza dough was rising.  In the fridge, I found mozzarella, a big bag of use-'em-up-quick mushrooms, and onions.  The Leftoverist is home.

Best Pizza Dough
3 3/4 c. bread flour (or all-purpose)
2 1/2 Tb. fast-acting yeast (2 packets)
3/4 ts. salt
1 ts. sugar
1 1/3 c. room temperature (about 72 degrees) water
olive oil for the pans and stretched dough

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar.  Add the water and, using a wooden spoon, mix until blended, about a minute.  The dough might be a bit stiffer than other pizza doughs you’ve made.  Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for about 2 minutes, until it's smooth.  Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the dough has doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 500.  Oil one 13×18 baking sheet and one half that size.  Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape 2/3 the dough onto an oiled pan in one piece. Starting at one end, gently pull and stretch dough across the surface of the pan, and use your hands to press it evenly out to the edges.  If the dough sticks to your fingers, lightly dust it with flour or coat your hands with oil.  Pinch any holes together. Repeat with the second smaller piece.

Caramelized Mushroom and Onion Pizza
Cooking all these veggies down separately is more work than you might want to do for a pizza, but it's work I'm willing to do if the alternative is going to the store.  And they're  are so flavorful that you could get away with no cheese if you're dairy-free or just trying to be good in the new year.

2/3 dough from above recipe
1 lb. white or crimini mushrooms, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
freshly ground pepper
1/4 c. white wine
splash of heavy cream
2 large onions, finely sliced
2 c. grated whole milk mozarella
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
2 tb. finely chopped fresh herbs--I used thyme and oregano
1 red jalapeno ("Fresno pepper"), seeded and sliced into thin rings

Pour a glug of olive oil into a large skillet and heat on medium.  Add minced garlic, saute for a minute, then add sliced mushrooms.  Add salt and pepper.  Saute until mushrooms are extremely soft and have reduced in volume considerably, about 15 minutes.  Add wine and cream, turn heat up a bit, and saute until almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 5 more minutes.  Put mixture into a bowl and set aside.

Heat more olive oil in the same skillet, then add sliced onions.  Add salt after onions are beginning to soften (5 minutes) and saute for 15-20 minutes more until they're beginning to brown and caramelize in places.

To assemble pizza, spread cheeses on crust.  Scatter onion and mushroom mixtures over cheese, and top with fresh herbs and red jalapeno rings.  Bake in a 500 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until crust is golden, topping is bubbly, and the bottom of the crust is firm.  Remove from oven, slide onto a cutting board, and cut into squares.

Reader Comments (29)

Out of the four rotating pizza dough recipes I've collected, this is our favorite!. It reminds me of a deep dish pizza and it is never doughy. Yancey must really understand a girl's true happiness: a clean house, happy kids, and dinner in the works. Way to go Yancey!

January 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

As a fire wife, I can tell you, our husbands are so supportive. Maybe it is because we hold it together for them while they are away or maybe it's just the way they are made. I cant wait to try this recipe. My Fireman will love it. Thanks..

January 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAricka

I want a FIRE-MAN! :):)

welcome back Sarah! I've been waiting for a new post:) I am thinking ahead to making your blondie bars to share for a girls weekend comin up:)

January 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

I now officially stalk your site for new postings. This pizza looks great and I would make it now, if not for the 2 hour rise time. Maybe tomorrow. Looking forward to it on a mellow Sunday night.

January 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElenor

Ah hah! Now I have an excuse to try again and improve on what was already a fun Thanksgiving alternative. Thanks Sarah!

January 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Viertel

I loveee caramelized onions on my pizza. What kind of camera takes your magnificent photographs?

In a rare move, the four of us headed to the Seattle waterfront Red Robin on Friday night. We snagged some parking at 5:30, which was right by the fire station. Hubby walked the boys over to see the engines through the big windows. It looked like the firemen were wrapping up loose ends for the day. They invited us all in, took some time to put the boys in the drivers seat, and showed them what buttons to push to make the lights go on. They were in there for at least 5 minutes. How nice is that?

We have a theory, though... our boys always seem to get extra-special attention from people in helping professions like firemen, policemen, etc. It's the flipside to the difficult parts about being that family that never blends in... white parents and black children. However you slice it, you can take a look at our family and assume the boys had a rough start of one kind or the other. Some people really enjoy doing something extra for them.

January 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi Momosis

I've got to get in the pizza groove. Everyone in our house loves it and I never make it. These toppings look absolutely perfect to me!

January 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Hi Sarah,
We'll try your pizza dough recipe. We are always on the lookout for the best crust possible, thin and crispy! Our current recipe that we've been using is from America's Test Kitchen and is similar to yours, but has some olive oil in the dough. The pizza is cooked on a pizza stone in the oven, but even so, doesn't get crispy enough. My husband propped the door open, to try and get the oven to go above 500, but alas the oven turned itself off (darn those safety features). So we cooked it on the grill outside (in Plain, WA near Jackie & Micheal) in the 30 degree weather. The grilled crust turned out the best we've had so far. Looking forward to trying your recipe and we really enjoy your website. :O) Best wishes, Cathy

January 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercathy

This recipe looks great, but I can't wait to hear about your work retreat.


January 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEm

I have been sitting at my keyboard staring at this slice of pizza! WOW!! I have ordered a product through King Arthur Flour called Easy Roll Dough Improver. It's amazing what a teaspoon of that will do in order to whip dough into shape and make it easier to manipulate!

January 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPam

i, too, want to hear about what a rock star you were on the retreat. maybe i'll read about it over a slice of this yummy pizza tomorrow. :)

January 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbethany

Yum! A bakery close to where I live sells frozen pizza dough. It is so easy to use. I will have to try my hand at making my own now though!

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha

I made your pizza dough tonight and blogged about it http://shamrockandshenanigans.blogspot.com/2010/01/marcella-hazans-tomato-sauce-with.html
even bragged about it on my facebook. Your recipe should earn your kids college money! It is amazing! Thanks again!

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAricka

Love homemade pizza but can never quite get it right. I'll have to try this one out. Thanks for sharing your pizza dough secrets, Yancey!

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterme.you.key

I *love* the buttery quality of your pizza dough but have encountered some problems so I really appreciated these tips! I've made your recipe three or four times and the first was the only time I didn't freak out a bit. It wasn't rising enough and I never could get it to cover two baking sheets. After reading about Yancey saving the day one time I began kneading it more and adding more oil. This helped a lot. I thought my problems were due to high altitude, so I'm glad to know I should continue these practices back at sea level. It just might be pizza night tomorrow!

January 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen

Sarah, I came across the most adorable, silly, hand-sewn, ladybug inspired apron today at Goodwill. It was hung on the end of the aisle, otherwise I wouldn't have been anywhere near looking at stuff like that. It's red with black spots, ruffles, and a pocket! I just had to get it for you/Loretta. It's your size, but pds agrees it has Loretta written all over it... as usual, cost me less than a latte.

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi Momosis

came home from a late meeting tonight (10:30 pm) and found that papa had gone to your blog and made pizza for the very first time completely on his own. it was all ready and waiting for us to share over a beer.
i've haven't seen him with this level of confidence in the kitchen, and I can tell you he was as proud as a peacock. you would have thought he just graduated from culinary school. it was delicious, and he was more than happy to know i had no improvements.
he has now become the official dough maker in our house.

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermfm

I love this story!

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEm

Is this dough Jim Lahey's?

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpds

That pizza looks so good!

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKevin

ha! i love that story too!

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbethany

this comment was meant for mfm's story.

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbethany

Sounds like a great pizza dough! It seems to be a lot of yeast, but maybe my proportions are off (I'm dying to try it!). I think Yancy must just have good cheffing instincts; any good pizza dough must be kneaded, right??

January 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine @ NightOwlChef

that's wonderful:)

February 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKamille

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