Easy, Delicious Pizza Crust

Happy June! One of the things I love about being a dietitian, is getting to talk to people about food. Food is so much more than just what we put in our bodies. Not only is it a nurturing experience, it is a social experience. Raise your hand if you ever think of a memory or a person when you have had a meal...my guess is all of you will raise your hand. People get so excited to talk about their favorite recipe because it represents family, tradition, and memories. 

What's even better than hearing about someone talk about their favorite recipe, is when people decide to share their treasured recipes with you. 

That's how I got a hold of this amazing Easy, Delicious Pizza Crust recipe. I was talking to a patient one day at work and he was telling me how much he and his wife enjoy pizza. Not your typical carry-out pizza loaded with a disgustingly thick layer of cheese, canned veggies, and processed meat; he was talking about pizza made with homemade crust, homemade sauce, and just a small amount of one or two high-quality toppings. I started talking to him about making his own dough and how my husband and I had just been to Italy and enjoyed the homemade crust we had over there. To my surprise, the next day, he and his wife dropped off their pizza crust recipe for me at work. 

Thanks to my patient sharing his recipe with me, I have been able to create memories enjoying this pizza crust with friends and family. I also think of him and his wife every time I make it! 

The first time I made this dough, I basically set aside an entire weekend to make it. Before reading through the recipe, I was envisioning turning into a hot sweaty mess while kneading the dough for hours on end only to let it rise and then knead it again. Thankfully, I was wrong. With the help of my trusty Kitchen Aid, the dough comes together quickly. It does need to rest in the fridge overnight, but overall, it's pretty hands-off.

Here's the step-by-step:

I like to top this crust with a few simple toppings such as sauce and cashew cheese or sauce and some sautéed veggies piled high with fresh arugula right before serving. The pizza in these photos have sauce, sautéed peppers, onions and mushrooms, this vegan parmesan, and thinly sliced raw zucchini. 

Easy, Delicious Pizza Crust

Makes four 9-12 inch crusts. 

Note: You will need about 30 minutes to make the dough the day before you plan to enjoy it since it rests in the refrigerator overnight. The day of, you need to take the dough out 2 hours before you plan to make it. This time is pretty hands-off and a good time to get your toppings ready and the rest of your meal prepared! 

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon instant yeast

1/4 cup olive oil 

1 3/4 cups ice cold water (I put ice and water in a bowl and measure the water from there)

1. Combine flour, salt, and yeast in bowl of electric mixer. Using paddle attachment, stir to mix on low speed. 

2. Add oil and water and mix on low speed with paddle attachment for about 5 minutes. 

3. Change to the dough hook attachment and turn mixer on to level 4 and knead for about 7 minutes. The dough should be smooth and sticky. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom. If the dough is too wet (sticking to the sides of the bowl), add flour 1 tablespoon at a time until it clears the sides. If the dough clears the bottom of the bowl, add cold water 1 teaspoon at a time. The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky. 

4. Transfer dough to a flour work surface. 

5. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper and misting it with cooking spray. 

6. Cut dough into four equal pieces. Sprinkle flour over the dough. Lift each piece and gently round it into a ball. Add flour to your hands as necessary to prevent sticking. Place dough balls on sheet pan. Mist with cooking spray and sprinkle with flour. 

7. Cover baking pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight or up to 3 days. **At this point you can freeze the dough by placing the wrapped pieces of dough in a freezer bag. Thaw them out the day before in the fridge and continue on with the rest of the steps. 

8. Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before making pizza. Dust a surface with flour. Place dough balls on floured surface. Knead by hand 2-3 times. Gently press dough into flat disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle dough with flour and mist again with cooking spray. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and risk for 2 hours. 

9. About 45 minutes before baking, place a baking stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees (higher if your oven will go higher). 

10. To shape the dough, dip your hands in flour. Carefully stretch the dough to desired shape. Place on a sheet of parchment paper. It should be 9-12 inches in diameter. Top dough with desired toppings. Place parchment paper onto preheated baking stone and bake for 9-12 minutes, until dough is lightly browned and toppings are crisp.