Confession: I have a really hard time paying money for pizza. Not much pizza goin’ on on my must-eat-in-Austin list. This is definitely not because I don’t like pizza, or that I don’t believe there is good pizza to be had in Austin (try here or here!). It really boils down to the fact that I’m cheap (I like to think of it as budget-minded). I have a really hard time paying $20+ for something that I feel like I could do a pretty dang good job of myself. For way less money. And I don’t have to pay an extra $1 if I want to add a scant few slices of jalapeno. (This is Texas folks, those little fiery gems should always be included.)
I don’t think I make the be-all, end-all best pizza. But, I can say that after almost 10 years of testing, trying, and testing some more (plus a lot of reading from this extremely helpful cookbook), I have found a pizza dough that works for me every single time.
This recipe is super adaptable. If I’m looking for a thicker, chewier crust, then I make the full recipe. If I’m wanting something on the lighter, crispier, thin crust side, then I scale back the recipe a bit. Want to throw in some whole wheat (or even better – rye!) flour? Yep, that’ll work. This crust is always full of deep, good yeast-bread flavor almost no matter what I do to it.
Why this dough is my most favorite, though, is that it does all its rising and flavor developing overnight in the fridge via the cold rise method. A few extra minutes the night before, and I get something like that beauty down there in about 20 minutes the next night. It’s the ultimate make-ahead meal. 100% worth it. And jalapenos are always included 🙂
My Favorite Pizza Dough
This dough makes a great fluffy, chewy crust or a nice thin and crispy crust. Amounts for a thicker, fluffier crust are listed regularly, with the changes needed for a thin and crispy crust in parentheses. Adapted just slightly from this book.
- 1 (3/4) teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1/2 (1/3) cup warm water (90° to 100°F)
- 1 1/2 (1) teaspoon sugar
- 2 1/2 (1 3/4) cups flour the original calls for bread flour, I typically use all-purpose with great results
- 1 1/2 (1) teaspoon table salt
- 1 (1) tablespoon olive oil + more for the bag
- 1/2 (1/3) cup cold water
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, water, and sugar and stir to combine. Let the yeast dissolve and start to bloom, which usually takes 5 minutes or so. The top of the mixture should look almost foamy, and sometimes you can even see the yeast "sprouting" - this means your yeast is alive and well. If it doesn't seem to be doing anything after 5 minutes, you may want to try again.
While your yeast is growing, combine the flour, salt, and olive oil in a large bowl. Don't worry if the oil forms little clumps - it will work out.
Once the yeast mixture is good to go, add it plus the cold water to the flour mixture and stir well until your dough starts to come together. If things are still looking extra moist and very sticky and you've stirred in all the flour, go ahead and add a few tablespoons more of flour and stir again. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl but won't be very cohesive at this point.
Lightly flour your work surface. Scoop the dough out onto your surface and knead the dough until it's smooth. This could take anywhere from 7-10 minutes. If your dough is still really sticky - it repeatedly sticks to the counter and your hands - go ahead and add more flour a few tablespoons at a time until it's more manageable. The dough should be very smooth once it's ready but should still be a little bit tacky when you touch it.
Add a good glug of olive oil to a gallon ziploc bag, zip the top closed, and squish the oil around until the entire bag is thoroughly coated. Add your dough to the bag and zip the bag closed. Be sure to leave some air in the bag - you want to give your dough room to grow.
Refrigerate the pizza dough for at least 12 hours, overnight is ideal though. This recipe really does work best to make the dough the night before you want to use it. Take the dough out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to use it to allow it to come to room temperature.