July 10, 2013

My Favorite Pizza Crust

I think pizza crust is like cookies - everyone has their own opinion on what is "best." Crispy cookies or ultra-soft, thin or thick, over-baked or underbaked, chocolate chip or raisin (I kid - no one's favorite cookie is a raisin cookie).

So I'm not saying this is the BEST pizza crust ever, it's just my personal favorite pizza crust (Please. I totally think it's the best pizza crust ever. I'm just pretending I'll happily acknowledge differences of opinions).

Some pizza crust recipes are all of three ingredients (water, flour, yeast), and . . .they taste like it to me. I want something with more flavor. I don't want the crust to be an after-thought to the toppings; I want it to be amazing on its own. I was the child who never ever ate pizza crusts, so I'm kind of shocked every time I make pizza to discover again that I like the crust just as much (and sometimes more) than the toppings themselves.

I like a tiny bit of sweetness, and I want it to roll out really thin and be crispy on the edges and not doughy in the center. I also think using some wheat flour makes it a little better than doing all white flour. I find all-white flour crusts to be too fluffy (this is the main reason I hated homemade pizza for most of my life - it was always like eating pizza toppings on a giant squishy dinner roll. Bleck).

I clearly have way too many opinions about pizza crust. And I'm not done yet. Not even close.

The whole pizza truth is that if you want killer pizza, you really need a pizza stone. Your crust just won't be as good without one. I am in a life-time of debt to my sister-in-law, Megan, for giving me one for Christmas several years ago (well, it was to Bart AND me, but I'm pretty sure he's never used it once since 2009 when we got it. He's just the happy beneficiary of excellent pizza).

And a little tip a friend of mine told me that pretty much changed my pizza-making life: pizza crust gets better the longer you wait to cook it. Make it a day or two ahead and let it sit in your fridge. I usually split my dough in half, use one half that day, and freeze the other half.

But hey, I've also made it twenty minutes before I stick it in the oven completely ignoring the rising time altogether, and it's delicious that way too.

I roll out my pizza dough on a silicon baking sheet, put all the toppings in and place the whole thing directly on my pizza stone. Then I use some metal tongs to pull it off onto a cookie sheet to cool.

And also, 500 degrees? Do it! (Yes, I've set off my fire alarm more than once when I forgot to the turn the oven off as soon as the pizza came out of the oven. I'm brilliant).

Told you I had too many opinions about pizza.

(By the way, the pizza in this picture is this peach and goat cheese pizza with balsamic drizzle. I added strawberries and skipped the basil. I liked it, but I didn't love it. Bart, who generally doesn't embrace unusual pizza, was quite a fan, though).

My Favorite Pizza Crust
(from Mel's Kitchen Cafe)

Makes 2 14" pizzas
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups white wheat flour (if you're doing regular wheat flour, do 1 1/2 cups instead and increase the all-purpose flour to 1 1/2 cups).

In a stand mixer, add all ingredients and let mix for 5 minutes (or 10 minutes if you're doing it by hand). Resist the urge to add more flour. (If you want to use active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, mix the warm water and sugar together, then sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit for 10 minutes before adding the remaining ingredients).

Spray a bowl with cooking spray, scrape your dough into the bowl and cover. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Two to three hours before you're ready to make your pizza, take it out and let it come to room temperature and rise on the counter. (If you freeze half the dough, put it on the counter about 3-5 hours before you're ready to cook).

Preheat oven to 500 degrees (make sure you start it heating about 30 minutes before you want to put your pizza in so that your stone has time to get hot). 

On a sheet of parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet, sprinkle a tablespoon or two of flour, and roll out your crust thinly.

Spread with desired toppings, place your pizza (with the parchment or silicon sheet) carefully on the pizza stone, and bake for 6-10 minutes (mine is always 8 minutes).

Slide the pizza onto a cookie sheet or pizza pan and let cool for a minute or two before slicing and serving.


  1. I 100% agree about the pizza stone. I got one for a birthday a few years back and it's changed my pizza eating life. Even those pre-made shells are improved by being on a stone.

  2. My favorite pizza place ever (and I've been to a few) is called Beau Jo's. In Colorado. There are two locations but my favorite is the one up in the mountains. The setting cannot be beat. And the crust.

    Oh. The crust. This stuff is so amazing that they serve it with HONEY BUTTER for dipping when you finish your pizza. They understand about flavor. And wheatness. And perfection.

    Our new favorite way to cook pizza is on my cast iron skillet on the grill. At yes, 500 degrees. I actually usually cook my crust for a few minutes first, then top. It keeps it from being doughy in the middle and basically broils the toppings. Science Teacher Mommy likes her veggies crunchy.

    I will definitely try this recipe though . . . I've been looking for one.

    Last thing (because obviously my pizza opinions are strong too): I topped my last pizza with sauteed zucchini and asparagus. Delightful.

  3. I have a great pizza dough recipe that I love too. And it uses bread flour! It has forever changed pizza night at our house! I also agree with pizza stone, 500 degrees, making it the day before and always 8 minutes. I love being able to make my favorite pizza at home. Yummy!

  4. I also am constantly in search of the perfect pizza crust. I like a little sweetness, like honey, with mine. It should be a compliment to the toppings but not overpowered or overpowering. I think I've tried this one already but will have to remake to remind myself if it was as good as you say!

  5. This was a great pizza crust recipe! I'm making it again for dinner tonight. I came back to also tell you thanks for the parchment paper tip! I had too many years of ruined pizzas from attempting to slide the unbaked pizza onto the stone without toppings falling off or the dough bunching up.


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