I love pizza! I think I even love it more as a vegan!! My first job was slinging pies, and I ate so much pizza during that time – one would think you’d get sick of it…not me. One thing I really love is making homemade pizza dough.. I also like making extra to freeze for pizza-emergencies! This recipe makes enough for 1 10-inch pizza or 2 smaller ones, but you can double it to make extra dough to freeze for future use… This recipe was adapted from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum (another good bread book, like the previously mentioned The Bread Bakers Apprentice).
1. One hour before shaping, or for best flavor development 8-24 hours ahead, mix the dough. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, and sugar. Whisk in the salt (doing it separate from the yeast prevents the salt from killing the yeast). Make a well in the center and pour in the water. Using a wooden spoon (or rubber spatula), gradually stir the flour into the water until all the flour is moistened and a dough just begins to form, about 20 seconds. It should come away from the bowl but still stick to it a little, and be a bit rough looking – not silky smooth. Overmixing will cause the dough to become stickier, so don’t overmix!
2. Let the dough rise (1 hour to overnight). Pour the 3 tsp oil into a 2 C measuring cup or in a small bowl. With oiled fingers, place the dough in the oiled cup and turn it over to coat on all sides (use additional tsp if needed to thoroughly coat dough). Cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Here’s where you can decide if you want to make the pizza now or later. If you want the dough soon, let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour or until doubled. For the best flavor, make the dough at least 6 (or up to 24) hours ahead, and allow it to sit at room temperature for only 30 minutes or until slightly puffy. Then set the dough (still in the oiled receptacle), in the fridge. Remove it 1 hour before you want to put it in the oven.
3. Prepare the toppings for the pizza. I like fresh baby spinach, roasted red bell pepper, roasted garlic, thinly sliced tomatoes, and fresh herbs such as oregano, basil, and thyme. Feel free to play around with various toppings: pineapple, yellow or orange bell pepper, jalapeño, caramelized onion, sun-dried tomato, whatever tickles your pizza-fancy. For this pizza today, I used baby spinach, roasted garlic, herbs, and thinly sliced heirloom zebra tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market. You can also choose to use tomato/marinara sauce or have it without sauce and just use olive oil – which are equally tasty in my book!
4. Preheat the oven to 475°F. One hour before baking, preheat the oven with the oven shelf at the lowest level and a baking stone on said shelf.
5. Shape the dough. With oiled fingers, lift the dough from the receptacle and pour remaining oil onto a pizza pan (on which you’ll be shaping and topping the dough). Place dough on pan and gently press down with your fingers to gently deflate the dough. Shape it into a smooth round by tucking under the edges (or let it be irregular and rustic). Allow the dough to sit for 15 minutes, covered, to relax (if you opt not to rest the dough, it will produce a super thin and crispy crust – if that’s what you’re after). Using your fingertips, press the dough from the center to the outer edge to stretch it to 10-inches, leaving the outer 1/2 inch thicker than the rest to form a lip. If it will not stretch, let it rest another few minutes before attempting to continue the stretch. Brush the surface of the dough with any remaining olive oil. Cover it and let sit for 30-45 minutes, until it becomes light and puffy (again, if you want thin and crispy, omit this resting time).
6. Bake the pizza. If you want a thin and crispy dough (as shown in my pics), top the uncooked dough with the prepped toppings and place in the oven to bake for 8-10 minutes. If letting it rest fully, for a puffier dough, set the pizza dough on the hot stone and bake for 5 minutes before topping it. After 5 minutes, pull pizza from oven and top with prepared toppings and bake an additional 5 minutes (or until vegan cheese, if using, is melted). I can’t give accurate timings for vegan cheeses as I don’t use them on my pizzas nor anywhere else.
*Notes: The pizza dough can be frozen after the first 5 minutes of baking for up to 3 months. When ready to use, simply add the toppings and bake for 5 minutes.