I’m the type of person who is, sometimes really annoyingly, resistant to change. Even if it’s the kind of change that might enhance my everyday living, like trading in my old flip phone or upgrading my decade-old, leaky, stained $10 coffeemaker, I’ll insist that my old way is just fine. So naturally, I never had much interest in trying Jim Lahey’s famous no-knead pizza dough recipe that has been sweeping the rest of the nation for the last couple of years. What good was that for someone like me? I like spending time in the kitchen, I like getting my hands dirty, and I like kneading my dough.
An unfortunate side effect of being resistant to change is the tendency to hoard. My old magazines had finally stacked up to the point of bothering me, so I recently started weeding through old issues of Bon Appétit and came across the no-knead pizza dough recipe again. Fine! I gave in and decided to give this crust a shot.
Thank goodness I did–it’s amazing! It’s like the pizza crust I seek out in restaurants, made at home, in my ordinary oven. The center is thin and crisp, the edges chewy and bubbly. Plus, if you make the full recipe, you can keep balls of dough in the freezer and have pizza whenever the mood strikes. So daily.
I’ll walk you through mixing and forming the dough and if it’s not already your favorite pizza dough, it will be soon.
Flour, yeast, and salt get whisked together. Add water, stir. That’s your dough. I love that it all happens in a big mixing bowl. No dough hooks, no food processors needed.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and add the secret ingredient: TIME. This dough needs to rise for 18 hours. That’s the only catch–your pizza night needs to be pre-meditated.
After an overnight hour rise, the dough will double in volume. Turn it out and divide it into however many pizzas you plan on making. I prefer personal-sized pizzas because smaller portions of dough are easier to handle (and I’m bad at sharing). Form each portion of into a ball, cover, and let rest for an hour.
While the balls of dough rest, preheat your oven. Crank it up as high as it’ll go and let it and a pizza stone heat up for a full hour. Don’t skimp on the preheat! Pull and stretch the dough into a roundish form. This dough is a pleasure to work with: baby-soft and incredibly pliable. Toss it on the preheated pizza stone and quickly add your favorite toppings. Top it with whatever you’d like, but use a light hand–crust this good should be the star. Pop it in the oven and turn the broiler on–this is the key to the perfectly blackened bubbles. 5 or 6 minutes and you’re done. Pizza time!
- 7½ c. All Purpose Flour, plus more for shaping and handling the dough
- 4 tsp. Kosher or Sea Salt
- ½ tsp. Active Dry Yeast
- Whisk flour, salt, and yeast together in a large bowl. Slowly add 3 cups of lukewarm water while stirring with a wooden spoon. Stir until a shaggy mass forms. Gather the dough into a rough ball and transfer to a large, clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature, in a draft-free area until it has at least doubled in volume, about 18 hours.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured board or countertop. Divide into 4 large portions or 8 personal-sized portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, pull the 4 corners to meet in the center, then place, seam-side down, on the floured work surface. Repeat with remaining dough, cover, and allow to rest for an hour. (At this point, you can wrap the dough very well and refrigerate or freeze. To use the frozen or refrigerated dough, let it come to room temperature for a couple hours before shaping the pizza.)
- While the dough rests, place a rack in the upper third of your oven. Place a pizza stone on the rack and preheat your oven to its hottest setting (mine goes to 550°) for 1 hour.
- To make the pizzas, work with one dough ball at a time. Dust with flour and gently stretch into a thin, round circle. Pull the hot pizza stone out of the oven, place the dough on the stone, and top. Have all of your ingredients ready to throw on the pizza as quickly as possible, as the dough starts to cook as soon as it hits the hot surface. Alternatively, you can place the unbaked crust on a well-floured pizza peel, top and carefully slide onto the hot stone.
- Return the pizza stone to the oven and turn the broiler on high. Broil until the crust is crisp on the bottom, blistered on the top, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to cutting board. Slice. Eat. Repeat.
Thoughts on Toppings
Since discovering this crust, I’ve had way more pizza than most people would consider “normal”. Here’s a run-down of a few recent combinations…
- Topped with an Arugula Salad & Shaved Parmesan
- Caramelized Onions, Fontina, Walnuts & Rosemary
- Garlic & Red Pepper-Sauteed Broccoli Rabe with Fresh Ricotta
- Shaved Asparagus, Goat Cheese & Egg with Arugula
- Olive Tapenade & Fresh Mozzarella
- Grilled with Salsa Verde
- Fig Jam with Bleu Cheese (almost dessert!)
…and a few ideas I’m itching to try…