In my 26 years, I have never made homemade pizza. Sure, I’ve bought some pre-made crust at the local grocery and thrown a few different toppings on it and called it homemade pizza.
I will never again eat non-homemade pizza again. Ever. The lovely crust recipe was adapted from here and here. Of course, I picked the toppings on the fly and with whatever struck my fancy from the fridge of slowly-dwindling food. It was after all, it was Thursday evening which meant it was almost grocery time again. If I only had one last dying wish to give, it would be to beg you to please make this pizza immediately. Ok, maybe not on the last dying wish part. Don’t let making dough scare you. I thought it would be so painful and take forever. No, and no. Also, don’t let not having a baking stone stop you from making this pizza. I used a cookie sheet.
Basic Pizza Dough (makes 2-3 pizzas)
Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room temperature water and oil and stir to combine.
Place the flour and salt in the bowl
of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and start mixing away with a wooden spoon. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed until throughly combined. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed with your wooden spoon until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook mixing with the wooden spoon. Knead with your hands until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 – 8 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.
Preheat the oven to 450° for at least 30 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Form both pieces of dough into smooth, round balls and cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.
Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other covered, shape the dough and transfer to
a round of parchment giant glass cutting board dusted with semolina or cornmeal. Top as desired (see my topping recipe above). Slide the dough onto the pizza stone onto a cookie sheet because that’s how I roll. Bake until the crust edges brown and cheese is golden brown in spots, about 8 to 12 minutes. Repeat with remaining ball of dough or freeze for later use.
Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats and Brown Eyed Baker, originally from Baking Illustrated by the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine
My Topping Recipe
1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes (adjust to desired heat tolerance)
1 tbsp dried oregano
1.5 – 2 cups of cooked, shredded chicken (depends on dough area to be covered)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
3 – 4 cups shredded monterey jack (please, for the love of all things cheese, shred your own)
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
After your dough has been rolled out, brush on BBQ sauce generously. Leave about 1 – 2 inches on the edges to avoid an epic mess in your oven. Sprinkle on the dried oregano and crushed pepper flakes, and any other spices that make your skirt fly up. Evenly distribute the chicken, layer on the onion slices, and strategically place the grape tomatoes on the dough. Finally, add the shredded cheese. Be generous, especially if you are a cheese freak such as myself. Garnish with fresh, chopped cilantro.