Friday night means pizza and a movie at our house. The tradition began with Chad’s family. His parents packed up the four boys and spent weekend evenings at his Grandma and Grandpa Nystrom’s house.
Chad brought the pizza tradition to college and introduced it to me. Is it weird that some of my favorite college memories include homemade pizza and watching Muppet movies? I don’t care, Muppet movies are hilarious!
Since then we have spent many Friday nights eating pizza and watching movies. It is the one night per week that I don’t have to think about what I’m making for dinner. But I get easily bored with pepperoni and so we have tried and experimented with lots of different crusts and toppings. For a while, I was on a health kick and I ground my wheat berries into flour in my Vitamix…then I had four kids…I haven’t done that for a while.
This is my favorite crust recipe (a printable version is at the bottom of this post):
Make this crust in advance. It’s great if you make it 4 or more hours ahead of time. It’s still good if you don’t have that long, but you’ll need at least an hour because it does need to rise.
Measure 3 cups of warm water. Sprinkle 4 teaspoons of yeast into the water and let it dissolve. Wait and make sure that it has little frothy bubbles like mine. The first time I did this, mine didn’t bubble. Not bubbling means you murdered the yeast. Dead yeast=gross crust. I mean, its edible, I’ve done it, but I don’t recommend it. I threw out my first attempt, I think the water wasn’t warm enough. Either way, it bubbled the second time, yay!
Once your yeast dissolves and bubbles, mix in 6 Tablespoons of powdered milk.
Then, in a separate bowl, measure 9 cups of bread flour. Trust me, bread flour makes much better crust, no one wants saggy crust. IMPORTANT: Please do not pack your flour. Do not scoop your flour from the jar! Spoon your flour into your measuring cup, being careful not to pack it! Then, level it with a knife. It should look something like this:
Think of flour like blue eye-shadow, hairspray, and lawn ornaments, less is more!
I like to measure my flour into little piles. I was never diagnosed, but I’m ADD. I’m not sure how my mom missed me, she was a resource room teacher, I mean, com’on! I have to compensate for my lack of ability to concentrate on anything, hence the piles. If I lose track, just count the mounds. Yes, no matter how hard I try, I have to count them multiple times. Is it just me? It’s okay, you can tell me.
Oh, and don’t forget to mix the flour with the other dry ingredients, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 Tablespoons sugar.
Pour the dissolved yeast and powdered milk into your mixer. I turn my Kitchen Aid to 1 and then spoon in the flour mixture. That is not my hand, it’s my daughter’s. It’s much more photogenic than mine. Isn’t her hand cute!?
As you can see, the Playdough she was making turned out perfectly. Playdough, if you were wondering, is the perfect complement to Friday night pizza.
When you have almost finished adding in the flour, spoon in 4 Tablespoons of evoo, one at a time. Your mixture should look something like this:
Now, if you have a Kitchen Aid, turn it to 2 and leave it mixing for 10 minutes. Remember when I said that no one wants saggy crust? This step helps develop the gluten in the flour and eliminates sag. If your’s is stickier and wetter, that’s great, just as long as it’s not dryer and harder. At the end of 10 minutes it should look like this, beautiful!
Put some oil in your pan, just enough to coat the bottom. For this small pan I used about 1/8 cup of evoo, for my large pan I used 1/4 cup. Use the oil you like best for flavor, I have even used melted coconut oil, yummy!
Place the rolled crust in the pan and don’t be a perfectionist. It doesn’t matter if it’s a perfect fit, just cover it up with cling wrap and let it rise. I find that if you let it rise for 4 hours or more, the flavor is better, more yeasty. If you don’t have time, cover it and let it rise on your counter.
I like to make my small pan of crust into cheesy bread, so I melted about 3 Tablespoons of butter and mixed in 1 teaspoon of garlic and drizzled it on the top after it had risen.
After it has risen, it should look like this:
This recipe makes enough for two large pan pizzas and one cheesy bread. But I like to have one pan crust and one hand tossed and this recipe is great for either pan or hand tossed. Just lightly oil the remaining crust, cover the bowl, and let it rise.
When you are ready to eat, preheat your oven to 500 degrees and roll out the dough you saved for the hand tossed crust to about 1/4 inch thick, like so…
Stick it on your pan and roll the edges.
Top all of your crusts with sauce, cheese, and whatever else you wish. For the cheesy bread I omit the sauce. Stick it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until it looks like this:
The underside of the crust should look something like this:
And there you have it, my favorite pizza crust of all time. I am so hungry right now. Our leftovers from last night are beckoning me for breakfast…be strong, Erin! Be strong!
- 9 cups bread flour
- 3 cups warm water
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 6 Tablespoons powdered milk
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 Tablespoon sugar
- 4 Tablespoons oil
- Measure 3 cups warm water.
- Sprinkle in yeast and allow to dissolve and bubble.
- Dissolve powdered milk into yeast mixture.
- Set aside.
- Mix all dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
- Place liquid in mixing bowl.
- While mixer is on low, slowly spoon in the flour mixture.
- When you are almost done adding in the flour mixture, add in the oil.
- When all ingredients have been added, allow mixer to knead the dough for 10 minutes on a low speed. (For Kitchen Aid mixers, speed 2)
- Remove dough from bowl and divide. Roll each section to just under 1/2 inch thick and the size of your pan.
- Coat cast iron pan with oil, about 1/8 cup for a small pan or 1/4 cup for a large.
- Place rolled dough into pan, cover with cling wrap, and allow to rise for at least 4 hours in the fridge. More time is great and will enhance the yeast flavor.
- Lightly oil the dough and place in a bowl.
- Cover the bowl with cling wrap and allow to rise in the fridge.
- When ready to eat, punch the dough down and roll to a little larger than the size of your pan.
- Roll the edges.
- Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.
- Top your pizza crust with sauce, cheese, and then toppings.
- Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until crust begins to turn golden brown and becomes firm.
- Make sure to use bread flour.
- Do not pack the flour, measure by scooping it with a spoon and leveling the cup with a knife.
- The oven should be preheated well. Allow 20 minutes after it is preheated before you bake your crust.
- The oil used should be a flavor you like, such as olive oil or coconut.
- The longer the dough is allowed to rise, the better the crust, up to 24 hours.
- Kneading the dough for the full 10 minutes is recommended and will give you a firm crust.