Did you know February 9th is National Pizza Day? I seriously don’t know who comes up with these “holidays” but, you know what, if it’s another excuse to eat pizza, then I’m in!
Friday nights are pizza nights in my house. Mention the word “pizza” and my kids come running. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this Italian classic. There’s something about the simplicity and versatility of sauce, cheese, and bread — you can eat it cold, hot, on-the-run, with a knife and fork, for breakfast, for lunch, or a midnight snack?
My childhood favourite was Hawaiian — ham and pineapple with a little mozzarella cheese. Did you know that Hawaiian pizza is a Canadian invention?
But fast forward to adulthood, and I found a new favourite; one that is even more simplistic: the Margherita. How can you mess with tomato sauce, fresh basil, and mozzarella? Funnily enough, I’ve made so many margherita pizzas but photographed them all at night so I don’t have any good photos to share.
Enough about the toppings, it’s all about the dough! Pizza dough is literally the foundation of a good pizza — I prefer a crust that isn’t too thick, with some air bubbles, holds up to toppings, is crisp, yet chewy at the same time.
I’ve tried many different versions but have always come back to Bobby Flay’s pizza dough recipe. It’s a nice light, elastic dough that bubbles up nicely and when cooked on a pizza stone, and gives a perfect amount of crustiness.
You can make pizza night a weekly ritual in your home — and no, not by having Domino’s on speed dial. And forget the store-bought stuff. If you’re crunched for time, you can prepare the pizza dough the day before, stick it in the fridge to slowly rise, and when you’re ready, you can have fresh piping hot pizza waiting for you. You can also store portioned out pizza dough in the freezer and when you’re ready to make it, defrost it in the refrigerator the night before.
Are you going to celebrate National Pizza Day with a homemade pizza? What are your favourite types of pizza? Let me know below!
The Best Pizza Dough
Yield: Appx 4 x 8″ OR 2 x 14″ pizzas
3 1/2 C AP flour, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon sugar
1 T active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 C lukewarm water, 110 degrees F
2 T olive oil, plus 2 tsp for greasing bowl
Place dry yeast and sugar into a bowl with 1/2 C lukewarm water. Set aside to activate yeast. Place flour and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. While the mixer is running, add the yeast, and gradually add the remaining 1 C of water and 2 tablespoons of the oil and mix until the dough forms smoothly into a ball.
If the dough appears too sticky, add additional flour, and if it’s too dry, add a little water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Note: this dough can be quite moist, so add a little water at a time.
Knead until dough is smooth and shiny, about 8-10 minutes in the mixer. (If you’re making this a day before, place the dough into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap or put it into a ziplock bag. Place into the fridge or freezer at this point in time).
Grease a large bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, add the dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm area to double in size, about 1.5 hours.
If you placed the dough into the fridge, take it out 2 hours prior to baking to allow it to warm up.
Dough is now ready for stretching into a base for your pizza toppings.
Once you have your toppings on, preheat the oven to 500F and bake for 6-7 minutes, until golden brown. Serve the pizza hot, and I like having a Summer Berry Water on hand to go with it.
Dough recipe adapted from Bobby Flay.