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.