If you're used to pulling your pizza crust out of a plastic wrapper, I strongly suggest you try making it yourself at least once. I know what you're thinking. It's a pain in the butt and it takes forever. Is it really worth it?
The best way to find out is to try making a super easy crust. How about one that you don't even need to let rise? Sound like a good compromise?
Don't get me wrong. It will NOT resemble the amazing, traditional crust from your favorite pizza place. It WILL be fast, simple, tasty, and maybe open your mind to a new realm of homemade possibilities. Who knows? Maybe after this, you'll end up doing slow rises overnight in the fridge. This could be your gateway crust!
As with any yeast dough, the first step is to "proof" the yeast. Mix it together with warm (not hot!) water and sugar and let it sit for a while. If it develops a thick layer of bubbly foam on the top, it's good. If it just sits there, or doesn't produce very much foam, then your yeast is either expired or just lame. Throw it out and get some fresh yeast before starting over again.
Once the yeast mixture is nice and foamy, add it to a bowl with flour, olive oil and salt. Mix it up until you get the clumpy formations you see above.
Here's the most important part: knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. What does that mean, exactly? You know that weird, pink putty stuff you were given as a toy when you were a kid? It should feel a kinda like that, and you should be able to stretch it pretty thin without tearing it.
You can get the right texture by kneading it with your hands, but it will take a while. I strongly recommend using a mixer with a dough hook instead. Not only will it do the job better and faster, but it will also free you up to do other things while the mixer is working its magic.
Some of those things should be spraying pizza pans with nonstick spray and sprinkling a little cornmeal over them. There's nothing sadder than a pizza that's stuck to the pan.
Once the dough has been well kneaded, all you need to do is cover the pans with it. There are fancy techniques to accomplishing this, but I don't know any of them. I just stretch the dough with my hands and then smoosh it into the pans with my fingers.
Now it's time to put some toppings on that beauty and get it in the oven!
Homemade No-Rise Pizza Crust
Makes two 13” pizza crusts
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons sugar
2 packages active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
- Whisk together water, sugar and yeast and let sit for 10 minutes. If the mixture doesn't foam heavily, the yeast is inactive. Start over with different yeast.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, yeast mixture and olive oil. Stir until a clumpy dough forms.
- Knead dough in a mixer on medium speed with a dough hook (for best results) or your hands until it becomes smooth and elastic. With a mixer this should take about 10 minutes.
- Spray two 13" pizza pans with nonstick spray and sprinkle them with cornmeal.
- Divide the dough into 2 even pieces, then stretch and spread it out onto pizza pans with your fingers (or do something fancy and twirly with it – your choice).
- Add toppings and bake according to recipe.