Homemade Pizza Crust, Revisited

by Shawnda on March 19, 2012

in Bread,Pizza

Homemade Pizza Crust

This week, we’re talking pizza. All pizza. All week. Today it’s pizza dough/pizza crust. The rest of the week, it’s pizza toppings!

And I’m going to be honest. This is kinda my version of heaven, minus elaborate ice sculptures made of frozen margaritas.

Meatball Pizza

Over the years, we’ve learned a thing or two about homemade pizza. Our tastes have shifted from loving a soft, thick crust that has edges that are borderline breadstick to wanting a much thinner & crispy-chewy crust.

We’ve gone through several pizza crust recipes, always arriving back at square one, an oldie we discovered in Gourmet a few years ago. It turned out that our old favorite was completely solid and sound. Tried and (tried and tried and) true. A few tweaks to the method and we’re currently turning out the best homemade pizzas we’ve ever made.

And we’re not exercising enough to make up for it. That has to change. Because we’re probably not going to have fewer pizza nights for a while :)

Shaved Asparagus Pizza with Goat Cheese and Ricotta

But homemade pizza involves homemade pizza crust… which typically involves about 2 hours for mixing, kneading, and rising. Problematic if, unlike me, you actually have a real job and stuff. So we’ve come up with a way to start the dough in the morning, let it rise in the fridge all day, and then bake it that evening.

1. Get up 30 minutes early and make the dough yourself. Crust-in-a-can will do in a pinch, but that crispy-chewy bite that comes from flour+water+yeast+your counter/fridge is second to none. Our favorite crust recipe is below, with instructions on how to start your dough in the morning and still get dinner on the table in a reasonable hour that night… and the next night! I’ve started making a double-batch of our favorite crust recipe in the morning, letting it slow-rise all day in the fridge, and then baking it that evening. It makes enough for 2 large pizzas or 6 generous, individual pizzas.

Homemade Pizza Crust

2. Get your oven hot. Like really hot. For years, we baked our favorite pizza crust at 450 degrees. And it was beautiful. See?

Red, White, and Green Pizza

But those blistery, golden brown crusts full of air pockets that they turn out at your favorite pizza joint? Those come out of a much, much hotter oven. 100 degrees (450 vs 550) is the difference between the previous picture and the next.

Barbecue Pulled Pork Pizza

It’s the exact same recipe but one pizza has a soft, fluffy, breadstick-like crust and the other has a crust that’s studded with air pockets, mostly crispy with just a bit of chew on the inside. It takes ~30 minutes for my oven to heat to 550 and then I hold the temperature for 30 minutes to make sure the stone and everything inside is actually 550 degrees. During that time, I pull the dough out of the fridge to come to room temperature (it needs ~1 hour to do so), prep the toppings, and get everything ready to top the crusts. Because once everything is prepped and heated, each pizza is only in the oven for 5-7 minutes.

3. Get a pizza stone.
They’re $20 at that big, bed & bath chain. You know the one – they send you a 20%-off coupon every month, which makes it like $16. Skip Starbucks for a week and spring for it. I think the crust cooks so much better and evenly on a preheated 550-degree stone than a regular pan.

4. Get a box of cornmeal and skip the flour… mostly. The hot pizza stone and a dusting of cornmeal (with a pinch of flour) on the bottom of the pizza produces the highly-sought after crunch. It also makes transfer from your pizza peel or prep surface a lot easier. And you never find yourself with a mouth full of pasty dough after over-flouring your work surface.

5. Get creative! You can put just about ANYTHING on pizza crust. Sweet potatoes, leftover pulled pork, or even broccoli. Just remember that some things (like sweet potatoes) might need to be cooked first because the 5-minute trip through the oven on top of pizza isn’t long enough to cook them thoroughly.

Homemade Pizza Crust

How to get that perfectly crispy-chewy pizza crust, with an all-day slow-rise variation that still lets you get dinner on the table on time. If you love a softer, bread-like crust, bake at 450 until lightly browned and skip the use of the broiler.

Ingredients

  • 2 pkgs (or 4 tsp) dry active yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups (17.5 oz) flour (you can sub up to half whole wheat flour), plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing crust
  • Cornmeal, for dusting surface

Instructions

  1. Place water in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and sprinkle the yeast over top.
  2. Let stand for 10 minutes - if your yeast doesn't swell or get frothy, buy new yeast.
  3. Add the olive oil, salt, and flour.
  4. With the mixer on low, mix until the dough comes together and mostly off the sides of the bowl (it will not come all the way off of the bottom). You can add flour by the tablespoon if necessary.
  5. Let the mixer run for 5 minutes to knead the dough. It should be smooth and slightly sticky.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide in half and shape into a ball (each will weigh ~1 lb). This is enough to make 1 large pizza. We like to make individual pizzas, so I divide each half into 3 pieces and shape into balls.
  7. Lightly dust a plate with flour and place the balls of dough on top, seam-down.
  8. Sprinkle the top with flour, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge.
  9. When you get home, pull the dough out of the fridge and let it sit, covered, on the counter for 60 minutes while your oven is preheating. If the plan is to only make one pizza that day, dust the extra ball of dough with flour, loosely wrap with plastic wrap, place in a gallon zip-top bag and refrigerate to it within 2 days, freeze if you need to store it for longer.
  10. Place your pizza stone in the top 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 550, letting it hold at temperature for 30 minutes.
  11. Prepare your toppings: grate cheese, chop veggies, cook sausage, uncork the wine, etc.
  12. Very lightly flour your pizza peel (or a rimless baking sheet, or turn a rimmed baking sheet upside down and use the bottom) and then add a couple generous pinches of cornmeal.
  13. Gently stretch the dough into a round - I hold one edge of the dough ball a couple of inches above my work surface and let gravity do most of the work, while I move my hands around the edge of the dough (like turning a steering wheel).
  14. Place the dough onto the prepared peel or pan.
  15. Switch your oven from "bake" mode to "broil." (If you get the option, select the "high" broil setting or 550 degrees. If you don't get the option, don't worry about it.).
  16. Brush the outside ~1-inch perimeter with olive oil and then top as desired.
  17. Gently shake the pizza from the peel/pan to the baking stone and broil for 5-7 minutes. (During this time, I'm making the next individual pizza.)
  18. Remove the pizza from the oven, leaving the stone in place. If you're night slicing and serving immediately, transfer it to a rack - the crust can get a little soggy if you put it directly onto a peel/cutting board/plate and just let it sit there.
  19. Slice and serve. And enjoy. Immensely.

Notes

Yields: ~2 lbs of dough, enough for 2 large pizzas or 6 individual pizzas

Crust adapted from Gourmet, broiling technique adapted from Bon Appetit

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Katrina March 19, 2012 at 4:41 am

Gotta love a good dough! A big “Yum!” to all of those pizzas!

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2 Blog is the New Black March 19, 2012 at 5:50 am

Gotta try this!

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3 Kim March 19, 2012 at 6:37 am

I agree the pizza stone makes all the difference. I bought mine about 15 years ago, so it has paid for itself over and over again. When we do pizzas, everyone (all 5 of us) gets their own, but the pizzas only take about 10 minutes to cook on the pizza stone.

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4 Laura March 19, 2012 at 7:28 am

Looking forward to trying the broiling technique. Pizza stones make all the difference, great for other things besides pizza too! Looking forward to what the rest of the week has in store.

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5 raquel@eRecipe.com March 19, 2012 at 7:53 am

Informative! Thanks for sharing, I am now equipped with these tips. I love thick and thin crust pizzas.

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6 Villy @ For the love of Feeding March 19, 2012 at 8:13 am

Third photo: DREAM! I actually don’t enjoy the air pockets, so now I know how to get the bread-like softer one I adore! :)

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7 Barry December 15, 2013 at 9:49 pm

There you go. I find if it has air pockets and is broiled, it makes it more like a cracker and that’s what I’m trying to avoid.
This is a lot like the recipe I us all the time but with more yeast and I’m putting more than my recipe calls for.
Like you, I like the crust a little more like bread sticks, in fact, I use the extra dough to make bread sticks later since with it only being my wife and me, one large pizza is all we can even look at.

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8 Jennifer March 19, 2012 at 8:16 am

I just figured out my last dinner for the week! :) My girls love pizza and I was out of ideas. Love that I can make it before work and finish up when I get home! :)

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9 Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking March 19, 2012 at 8:29 am

We actually just made Hawaiian pizza from homemade dough yesterday! Yours looks wonderful, Shawnda. I always think when you find a good recipe you should stick with it, and I have mine for sure! I’d love to try this though.

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10 annabelle March 19, 2012 at 9:10 am

I have a question, if I am making it to use right away, I just let rise for 60 min and skip the slow rise in the fridge? This recipe looks great.

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11 foodiebride March 19, 2012 at 9:54 am

Yep! Maybe a little longer if it’s cool inside.

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12 Jen March 19, 2012 at 9:11 am

I found your crust recipe a few years ago and now I make it probably once a week! One question though-my dough usually looks more like a batter and I end up putting in at least an extra half cup of flour. We live in the midwest & do not have central a/c so our kitchen can me quite humid. Is the humidity throwing things off? I usually do the crust in my Kitchenaid mixer. Would I get better results if I do the final last bit of kneading by hand? Should I try bread flour? Don’t get me wrong, I really like the crust, but the dough balls I buy from our local pizza place yeild a crispier, chewier crust. That said, one pizza parlor crust will buy enough ingredients for a dozen homemade crusts, so I usually try to do homemade!

Thaks,
Jen

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13 foodiebride March 19, 2012 at 9:53 am

Yep, it’s definitely the humidity. When I need to, I just add flour by the 1-2 TBSP until it comes together. I never knead by hand, I always let the mixer do the work :)

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14 Jen March 27, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Thanks! I really have no desire to knead by hand-sort of defeats the whole point of having my beautiful mixer!

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15 Mom24@4evermom May 18, 2012 at 10:49 am

I had this experience when I was working with it today too. Would bread flour yield a chewier crust? Thank you for posting it, I subbed in 1 cup of wheat flour and honey for the sugar. I’m very excited to bake it later.

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16 Jason July 26, 2013 at 11:35 am

Bread flour and a cup of semolina make a world of difference in making pizza dough. You can feel the luxurious texture as your kneading the flour. The high protein content of the bread flour adds gluten to the dough wich in turn gives a better texture or chewiness. Another thing to try that I have had good reults with is after you roll your dough out and put toppings on, let the dough proof for a half an hour. Just brush with oil, cover in plastic and set aside.

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17 Joanne March 19, 2012 at 6:54 pm

This is an AWESOME pizza dough tutorial and I wholeheartedly agree with all of your advice. I’m SO excited about pizza week. Best.Week.Ever.

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18 Krissy@DaintyChef March 19, 2012 at 6:56 pm

I am so excited for all of this pizza since I finally mastered a crust last week!

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19 Jen M O March 19, 2012 at 7:07 pm

I love pizza. I wish we could have it more often. Thank you for your tip about the oven. I may never order pizza again.

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20 Julie March 27, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Hi, do you use bread flour?

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21 foodiebride March 27, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Sure don’t, I don’t have the pantry space to keep it around.

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22 Julie March 27, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Thx so much:)!

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23 Kira March 29, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I love making pizzas at home with my husband, and this is the easiest and tastiest crust I’ve made yet! Thanks so much for the recipie!

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24 Monica Levy Rowland April 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm

WOW! GREAT POST! Question..is there a reason you cannot use all whole wheat flour? instead of half… I really avoid white flour…

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25 foodiebride April 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Thanks! I personally don’t like the texture of the all-wheat crust. But if you already mostly cook/bake with all wheat, give it a try!

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26 Debra Kapellakis April 13, 2012 at 5:05 am

Thank you so much. This means we still get homemade pizza while I am working ten to twelve hours a day, 7 days a week.

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27 Corey May 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Hey there! I was curious if it makes a difference between bread flour or just your standard unbleaced all purpose flour for this crust? Looking forward to trying this out! Like you mentioned I’ve went through many crust recipes looking for the best and least complex one to make! Thanks again!

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28 foodiebride May 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I don’t have the pantry space for another flour so I never keep bread flour on hand. I just use plain ol’ all-purpose.

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29 Corey May 9, 2012 at 3:38 am

Thanks a bunch!! I’m having friends over tonight and I’m going to make this dough when I get home from work!!

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30 Rob May 16, 2012 at 9:42 am

That pizza look delicious, you are making me so hungry right now…

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31 sarab May 19, 2012 at 5:27 am

It looks soo yummy.I love homemade pizza,I’ve been looking for crispy dough. thanks for this great one. I mad it befor 15 minutes but it looks stiff and heavy I don’t know why! shoude I reduce the flour to 3 cups next time? it is so difficult to knead it! thanks again :)

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32 shawnell July 31, 2012 at 11:32 am

I love love pizza. I love finding new pizza recipes and trying them out. My husband does not like pizza as much as I do, So I only make it when I know he is not hungry or out of town. I love your blog , I will definitly have to bookmark this page. This is making me really hungry!!

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33 Lisa Comfort August 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm

MY pizza issues—-
Oven was not hot enough. I have a fancy-pantsy gas oven with the pain in the arse ‘convection’ feature.
I unplugged the electricity- and lit a match—fwoomp! 12 minutes later that oven was 500 degrees F.
Before I defeated that convection fan BS, it never got above 360 degrees. It could ‘preheat’
an hour and never get hot!
Then I quit over-kneading the dough— 5 minutes in the stand mixer. Then a 20 minute rise. Then roll the wet dough with lots of flour. The only oil is that used is to keep the rising dough from sticking to the bowl. I use a tomato paste/white wine/salt/garlic (pressed)/dried basil/fresh cracked black pepper/vinegar [balsamic] sauce. Applied with a spatula, topped with real Italian grated Romano, and thinly sliced mushrooms. 10 minutes in that 500 degree oven and et voila!!! So good! I just cook it on a regular pizza pan liberally sprinkled with corn meal. Regular cornmeal.
I wait until i can smell it is nice and done- the RUN to get it out so it doesn’t burn to a crisp.
I make a salad while I’m waiting for the pizza to cook. A nice crispy salad— Romaine, cucumbers, red bell peppers, carrots, real blue cheese dressing (high fat) mixed well, the nice balsamic liberally mixed in and topped with fresh cracked black pepper. Salt everything well, have some good red wine and frozen blueberries topped with whipped cream for dessert.

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34 liz August 31, 2012 at 5:22 pm

i have been looking for a pizza crust recipe like this for years. we made it tonight and it was an absolute hit!

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35 Denece November 12, 2012 at 6:27 pm

I made this dough on my second attempt at homemade pizza. I wasn’t able to broil the pizza, my oven only has a small drawer broiler. But, I baked my pizzas at 500′ and was really pleased with the crisp, chewy crust. I love the slow rise method for the dough in the fridge. I made four rounds of dough, instead of two or six. This made medium sized pizzas. I will save this recipe. Thank you!

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36 Pat November 24, 2012 at 6:08 am

I just bought a pizza oven and first tried another dough. That recipe had over 180+ reviews that all rated it 5 star. I was so disappointed when I bit into it. It was very bready, crispy but it had no chewiness to it. So I went on the hunt for for a chewy, crispy, thin base and if you are like me, then this recipe is the one for you! I really enjoyed it so thank you very very much. If not for you and this recipe, I’d have more testing to do, but now I am very satisfied!! This one gets stored into my collection.

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37 Shelley December 26, 2012 at 4:36 pm

I want to use this crust right away…. is that OK?

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38 Shelley December 26, 2012 at 7:36 pm

I decided to make this right away and it was SO GOOD! I added some Simply Organic all purpose seasoning to the dough (I added it to the flour and stirred it in before adding it to the yeast/water)

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39 Tony January 2, 2013 at 8:04 pm

This is a great recipe, easy to make, and you have on-the-money, clear directions that are foolproof. After trying many recipes and directions that led to undercooked, doughy crust or thin cardboard tasting crust, especially after using a special “just for pizza yeast” that didn’t require rising, I finally found your recipe and directions that led to a perfect pizza pie. It’s important to mention that I followed ALL of your directions: preheated pizza stone, 550 degrees and then switched to broil on HI. Preheating the oven got the stone really hot. I also made the dough in the morning and let it sit in the frig all day, taking it out when I got home and setting it on the warm, glass stovetop for an hour while the oven heated. I did use King Arthur bread flour. I also brushed on a thin coating of Stonewall Kitchen’s Italian Dipping Oil over the uncooked crust before adding the toppings. Thanks!

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40 Jewelie Dee January 20, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Substitute part of the flour with semolina flour and see the difference!

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41 Shelley January 25, 2013 at 8:00 pm

I like that idea!!! :)

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42 Shelley January 25, 2013 at 6:43 pm

I made this crust and used it right away and it was fantastic. I am now making it again. I use my food processor and I add Simply Organic seasoning to the dough, which gives it a fantastic flavor! I would also like to mention that it makes picture PERFECT dough so if you are into food photography like I am then you will want to get that camera out! LOVE this recipe!

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43 anna January 30, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Totally going to try this!

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44 Sarah February 10, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Love, love love the recipe…we made scratch pizza dough for the first time Friday night and loved it so much that surprise, pizza night again! I just have one question out of pure curiosity (we made it your way and it was perfect so I’m not questioning your methods- just want to know your reasoning behind it), why do you just sprinkle yeast over, instead of dissolving it into the water (or were we supposed to…in that case, oops!) ? We just looked at lots of recipes and they all said to dissolve yeast into water and then let sit, but you said to just sprinkle it on top….

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45 foodiebride February 11, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Yeah, I only ever sprinkle the yeast over top when proofing. It absorbs water, falls, and then blooms. Wouldn’t hurt to do it the other way at all!

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46 Aaron February 15, 2013 at 6:54 am

Fucking brilliant dough! Thanks for the amazing recipe.

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47 Andris lagsdin March 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Beautiful photos. Love the recipe! Have you tried eliminating the dissolving yeast step? It will save some time…

Well done!
Andris

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48 monica March 22, 2013 at 11:29 am

I’m prepared to make the crust. One question, is it 3 1\2 cups of flour or is it 17 ounces? As 3 1\2 cups is about 30 ounces.

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49 foodiebride March 22, 2013 at 11:44 am

I always use the “5 oz to 1 cup” measurement. I think that’s from King Arthur Flour. Or maybe ATK. I forget – but it’s what I always use.

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50 Kathy March 25, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Tried the pizza recipe tonight. Excellent, next time I will use less toppings. Had some trouble transferring from a pan to the pizza stone. 2nd one I just put directly on the stone. Broiler burned the first one, second one broiled only 3 min. Returned to 550 degrees the remaining 4 minutes. Thank you so much.

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51 CJ Hoogewind May 17, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Thank you! This pizza dough recipe is what I have been looking for! It is the best!

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52 Mike May 19, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Why does my dough keep sticking to my pizza peel? UGHHHHHHH! I’m SOOOOO mad. I followed the directions exactly like you said, but the dough just will not slide off of the pizza peel. I have plenty of four and cornmeal, but it just sticks. Maybe I put too much olive oil on it when it was rising?

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53 Chelsea October 27, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Great recipe! Any tips for kneading by hand?

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54 JC December 23, 2013 at 5:32 am

Thank you for this excellent recipe! I’d tried another one which turned into a whole wheat pitta bread rather than a pizza.. :(

After forming the boules and covering them with flour and placing in the fridge overnight, your recipe gave me a fantastic, light, chewy calzone (ok, not exactly pizza but the base didn’t slide too easily off my plate into the oven so I ended up folding it..still came out perfect!!). We loved it so much that I made a second one right away, but my pizza stone cracked, perhaps because the dough was too cold?

. One question, I’m planning to use a pizza pan (with holes) so as to ensure I don’t run into the problem of getting the pizza onto the stone. Do you recommend the use of pans and is there anything to be aware of in advance? Thanks!!!

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55 Shawnda December 24, 2013 at 9:22 am

You can use a pan – I always make sure I have put down cornmeal and flour to keep it from sticking. While you’re topping the pizza, give the plate a shake – if it doesn’t freely move, peel it up and toss a pinch under there again until the pizza does shake. It’s much easier to fix on the plate than standing over an open oven.

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56 evelyn January 17, 2014 at 12:50 am

I can honestly say your recipe actually turns out just like the pictures, very happy :)

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57 JC March 22, 2014 at 6:30 am

Hi me again. As homemade pizza is now becoming a regular feature (kids rate it infinity on a scale of 1-10!!), I’m thinking of investing in a dough mixer. Yes, mixing and kneading by hand looks very artisan, but this dad is a bit time constrained. What are the key features to look for when buying, and is it possible to buy the ‘wrong’ model?

Separately, the pizza pan has made it really easy to shape the pie, however the base seems a bit underdone to me. I feel the thickness is fine – any thinner and it becomes translucent. My Miele electric oven is capable of 300C on the ‘grill’ setting that I use.. It can burn the top if I leave the pie in too long. Should I use a lower temperature perhaps, to ensure the base gets cooked properly without burning the top?

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58 Pete September 22, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Hey I always have a problem with getting dough off peel to stone turns out like a mess any thoughts for help Maybe I just Know what im doing

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