Bite Club: How to Make Pizza That Doesn’t Suck

Pizza is like sex — it can absolutely be bad. So here’s how to make a great pie.
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Pizza is like sex — it can absolutely be bad. So here’s how to make a great pie.
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So baking is a fucking nightmare, right? Right. So the rest of this recipe is just hours of measuring, careful observation, and drudgery, with the only thing keeping you going is that greasy, cheesy, cured-meat-topped light at the end of the tunnel. Pizza is a hell of a drug.

You don’t need any special equipment here, but a stand mixer will make the process go quicker. My girlfriend’s grandma gave me her old one, so I guess the first step is to find yourself a romantic partner and befriend their grandma. Anyways, throw about four cups of flour, two teaspoons of salt, a teaspoon of sugar, a packet of instant rise yeast (make sure it’s instant, don’t mess up the first step) into the mixer and turn it on to medium speed. Dump in a cup and a half of water and a tablespoon or two of of olive oil and let the mixer run for a minute to incorporate everything.

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The dough should be sticky but not wet — you can play around with the flour to water ratio as you see fit. Don’t let me step on your toes here. You do you. Take the dough ball out of the mixer, throw it down on a floured surface — just use your entire counter — and knead it for a minute or two before shaping it into a ball. By kneading the dough, you’re actually allowing gluten to form, which is going to give your dough that delicious elastic texture. If you’re allergic to gluten, maybe sit on the sidelines for this one and grab a bag of soy sauce-free beef jerky or something.

Coat a large metal bowl with a teaspoon of olive oil then toss your dough ball in there. Cover it with a wet towel and let it sit for at least three hours so it can proof and let the yeast work its magic. Then, take the dough out, cut it into three equal masses, and shape those into balls. Cover each of those with a wet towel and let sit for an additional 30 minutes.

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Now you can start making pizza! Since you probably don’t have an oven that can get up to 900 degrees — but if you do, that’s baller — just crank it as high as it can go. You’re probably going to top out around 500. But, to cheat some additional degrees in there, move your top rack to the highest slat to get it closest to the heat source.

Flatten your dough ball out until it’s relatively cylindrical, then start pressing around the edge to form a substantial crust. Then, pick up the dough, rest it on the back of your knuckles, and gently start to pull it outward, turning 45 degrees after every stretch. It should look like pizza dough now! If you’ve made it this far, congratulations are in order.

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Now, to cheat the fact that you don’t have a pizza stone or pizza oven, lay that dough directly in your biggest oven-proof sauté pan or cast iron skillet. Top it with your favorite accouterments — I went Italian sausage and mushroom on one and prosciutto and arugula (the arugula was added after baking) on the other; both red sauce, obviously — and put it on the stove on high for three minutes, until the bottom of the crust gets some color on it. Then, toss that bad boy on the high rack and let it get nice and toasty for about seven or eight minutes, or until your cheese is melty and your crust is golden brown.

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Now, aren’t you glad you spent hours doing that instead of spending hours drinking beer and watching college football on the couch?

Still hungry? Check out the other installments of Bite Club here.

Photos by All photos by Josh Scherer