Every now and then I break out of my kitchen and work part-time for a luxury French retailer favored by everyone from Princess Grace to Beyonce. It’s a nice change of pace for me, and I feel very fortunate to work with beautiful people and beautiful products. How fun to shed my yoga pants and Ugg slippers for something slightly more sophisticated! But for as much as I enjoy working, I’m always amazed at how hard it is — even the teensy weensy amount of time I work — and I give working moms all the credit in the world. Wait, you want me to work all day AND still feed you AND still do your laundry AND still drive you places? What? Seriously, I don’t know how you people do it, but hats off to you.
Working, even just a little bit, inspires one to seek out recipes that lend well to quick preparation. Sure, you can always order pizza, but making your own pizza gives you good mom points for preparing real food. With a little forethought, Jim Lahey’s no knead pizza dough recipe is a pretty easy alternative to takeout. Just like his world renown no knead bread recipe, this pizza dough lets time do all the hard work for you. In other words, next time you are wondering, “What should I make for dinner tomorrow night?” get out your flour, active dry yeast, salt and water, and start thinking about homemade pizza.
I will admit, this was a bit of a production for a Monday night with Ed traveling. The smoke alarm went off. My kitchen is covered in flour and sauce. My own pizza burnt just a bit (see picture) but the kids’ turned out perfectly. And we all agreed that this crust is incredibly delicious. I just may save it for a Friday night next time…
Making the Dough: (Yields four 12-inch pizza crusts)
- 500 grams (17 1/2 ounces or about 3 3/4 unsifted cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough
- 1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
- 16 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
- 350 grams (11/2 cups) water
- In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and, with a wooden spoon and/or your hands, mix thoroughly. We find it easiest to start with the spoon, then switch to your hands (see slideshow).
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature (about 72°) for 18 hours or until it has more than doubled. It will take longer in a chilly room and less time in a very warm one.
- Flour a work surface and scrape out the dough. Divide it into 4 equal parts and shape them. For each portion, start with the right side of the dough and pull it toward the center, then do the same with the left, then the top, then the bottom. (The order doesn’t actually matter; what you want is four folds.) Shape each portion into a round and turn seam side down. Mold the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour.
- If you don’t intend to use the dough right away, wrap the balls individually in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth, for 2 to 3 hours before needed.
Cooking the Pizza:
- Put the pizza stone on a rack in a gas oven about 8 inches from the broiler. Preheat the oven on bake at 500 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Shaping the disk (Method 1): Take one ball of dough and generously flour it, your hands, and the work surface. Gently press down and stretch the ball of dough out to 10-12 inches. Don’t worry if it’s not round. Don’t handle it more than necessary; you want some of the gas bubbles to remain in the dough. It should look slightly blistered. Flour the peel (or an unrimmed baking sheet) and lay the disk onto the center. It is now ready to be topped.
- Shaping the disk (Method 2): Take one ball of dough and generously flour it, your hands, and the work surface. Gently press down and stretch the ball of dough out to 6-8 inches. Supporting the disk with your knuckles toward the outer edge and lifting it above the work surface, keep stretching the dough by rotating it with your knuckles, gently pulling it wider until the disk reaches 10-12 inches. Set the disk on a well-floured peel (or unrimmed baking sheet). It is now ready to be topped.
- Switch the oven to broil for 10 minutes. With the dough on the peel, spoon the tomato sauce over the surface and spread it evenly, leaving about an inch of the rim untouched.
- With quick, jerking motions, slide the pie onto the stone. Broil for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes under gas (somewhat longer with an electric oven), until the top is bubbling and the crust is nicely charred but not burnt.
- Using the peel, transfer the pizza to a tray or serving platter. Sprinkle the Parmigiano and salt evenly over the pizza. Distribute the basil on top. Slice and serve immediately.