I've never given much thought to pizza dough. Where pizza is concerned, I tend to like it all. Certainly I've had pizza that I've especially enjoyed - every slice I had in Rome, mashed potato pizza from BAR in New Haven, and the pies I ate at Beau Jo's with my parents after they dragged me up mountains growing up - but I've often felt that the place where you eat said pizza matters more than the pizza itself.
My opinion on this matter changed last week when I made Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough. I made the full recipe posted below, which produces enough dough for approximately six pizzas. I wasn't actually sure what we were going to do with all of the dough since we didn't have plans to host people for dinner, but I needn't have been concerned -- we ate pizza three nights last week and we both took the leftovers for lunch. The dough was so flavorful and chewy and light that it didn't matter what we put on top - a simple tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, a few herbs - really whatever I found in the fridge. Don't overwhelm the flavor of the dough -- it really is that good.
Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough
Yield = Six 10"-12" pizzas
Active Time = 60 minutes
Total Time = 20 hours
Recipe from Jim Lahey in the March 2012 Bon Appétit
7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (1000 grams) plus more for shaping dough
4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
Preparation of the Dough
1. Whisk flour, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add 3 cups water; stir until well incorporated. Mix dough gently with your hands to bring it together and form into a rough ball (note that if you are lazy like me this can all be done in a stand mixer using a dough hook). Transfer to a large clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature (about 72°) in a draft-free area until surface is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size, about 18 hours (time will vary depending on the temperature in the room).
2. Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Gently shape into a rough rectangle. Divide into 6 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to center to create 4 folds. Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball. Dust dough with flour; set aside on work surface or a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining portions.
3. Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Wrap each dough ball separately in plastic wrap and chill. Unwrap and let rest at room temperature on a lightly floured work surface, covered with plastic wrap, for 2–3 hours before shaping.
To Make the Pizzas
1. During the last hour that the dough is resting, prepare the oven: If using a pizza stone, arrange a rack in upper third of oven and place stone on rack; preheat oven to its hottest setting, 500°–550°, for 1 hour. If using a baking sheet, arrange a rack in middle of oven and preheat to its hottest setting, 500°–550°. (You do not need to preheat the baking sheet.)
2. Working with 1 dough ball at a time, dust dough generously with flour and place on a floured work surface. Gently shape dough into a 10"–12" disk.
If Using Pizza Stone - When ready to bake, increase oven heat to broil. Sprinkle a pizza peel or rimless (or inverted rimmed) baking sheet lightly with flour. Place dough disk on prepared peel and top with desired toppings. Using small, quick back-and-forth movements, slide pizza from peel onto hot pizza stone. Broil pizza, rotating halfway, until bottom of crust is crisp and top is blistered, 5–7 minutes. Using peel, transfer to a work surface to slice.
If Using a Baking Sheet - Arrange dough disk on baking sheet; top with desired toppings. Bake pizza until bottom of crust is crisp and top is blistered, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a work surface to slice.