I rarely make homemade pizza dough, but when I do, I like to experiment with different recipes so I get a different pizza every time. On my last try I used a recipe from the ever-reliable King Arthur Flour and it yielded one seriously chewy thick crust pizza that tasted more like a pizza/focaccia hybrid.
To start, proof the yeast for the dough. When the dough is ready to rise, I transfer it to greased bowl to rise. I use a large plastic pitcher so I can accurately track when it’s doubled in size. I used to use a bowl, but then I’d stand there, scrutinizing it, until my eyes crossed. The pitcher is great because it comes prepared with measurement markers on the side to mark the progress, and it’s less than $5.
The recipe gives you a lot of options for thick and thin crust pizzas in round or rectangular shapes. I decided to use all of the dough and make one large rectangular pizza in my (roughly) 9×13-inch baking pan. Head over to the King Arthur website for more specific information on pan sizes for this recipe.
When the dough was ready, I followed the instructions of gently stretching (not patting) the dough into a gradual rough oval before transferring it to the oiled pan, which keeps the dough from sticking and lends flavor to the crust, for more gentle shaping and stretching. Until you’re able to fit the dough into the whole pan without it shrinking back, keep it covered with plastic wrap so it won’t dry out.
Bones was very interested in this part of the pizza making process.
After the dough was able to comfortably fill the pan, it got another rise, then headed to the oven for a quick bake to “set” the crust before I added the toppings. Instead of a traditional tomato sauce pizza, I opted to top this thick crust pizza with a layer of pesto.
Then came fresh mozzarella, tomato slices, and a good amount of fresh basil. I cannot ever get enough basil.
Bake and eat!
While none of this pizza went un-eaten, when I make it again I’ll probably split the dough into two smaller pizzas so I get a thinner crust, but the recipe is definitely a keeper. The texture is chewy, the crust crisp and flavorful thanks to the olive oil, and the self-satisfaction of making your own dough is one of greatest baking pleasures.
Thick Crust Pizza
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one enveloped contains 2 1/4 teaspoons)
7/8 to 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water*
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups all-purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Sauce and toppings of your choice
*Use the lesser amount in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate), and somewhere in between the rest of the year, or if your house is climate controlled.
Dissolve the yeast in 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm water. Let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until bubbling and expanded.
Combine the dissolved yeast with the remainder of the ingredients. Knead until dough is smooth and smooth and elastic, but don’t over-knead; it should hold together, but can still look fairly rough on the surface. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow it to rise until doubled in size – about 90 minutes.
For a rectangular pizza, shape the dough into a rough oval by stretching it briefly into shape, then cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes. Lightly oil the pan you’ll be using, then transfer the dough to the pan. Press it into the pan, stretching it towards the edges. If and when the dough starts to shrink back, cover and walk away for 15 minutes. Repeat until you can gently pat the dough into the corners.
Still covered, allow the dough to rise again until it’s noticeably puffy, about 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 450°F and set a rack in the lower part of the oven.
Bake the dough until it just begins to brown around the edge of the crust, but is still pale on top. This will take about 8 minutes for thinner crust pizza; about 10 to 12 minutes for medium thickness; and 12 to 14 minutes for thick-crust pizza. If you’re baking two pizzas, rotate them in the oven halfway through.
Remove from the oven and top with the sauce and toppings of your choice. Return to the oven, and bake on the upper oven rack for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is browned and the cheese is melted.