I've tried a dozen or so different crust recipes and I've finally settled on this recipe and method as my go-to crust. It's ridiculously easy and convenient because there's no kneading step and I pre-bake the crusts so I've always got some in the freezer to thaw, top and bake. It's also incredibly good because the extra rise time allows the flavors to mingle and mellow. Most recipes say you can bake the crust after a 2-3 hour rise, but then it will end up tasting yeasty, which many folks find undesirable. This crust also bakes up extra crispy on the outside because of the high water to flour ratio.
Step 1: Prepare the Dough
1 1/2 cups slightly warm water
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs olive oil (preferably EV)
3 cups all purpose flour
Combine the ingredients in a large bowl in the above order (keep in mind they'll need room to rise). Mix until they are all combined. Cover with plastic wrap and cut a few small slits with a knife to let it breath, or cover with a wet kitchen towel. Then let it sit at room temp for at least 12 hours, and up to 24 hours. I usually mix it the night before baking, then transfer it to the refrigerator after 12 hours and let it sit for another 12 hours in the fridge. After the rise it should look like it does in the photo.
Substitute 1/2 cup of the all purpose flour for some other flour such as whole wheat, semolina or fine corn meal. These will add flavor, color or texture. For the batch in the photos, I substituted whole wheat flour.
Step 2: The Stickiest Dough Makes the Best Crust
Flour your work surface VERY well. This is much stickier than the typical pizza dough. You need a good layer of flour for working with this stuff. A light dusting isn't enough - you'll end up with a mess.
Using your large spatula or spoon (you might want to flour it as well), work around the edges of the bowl to form the dough into a big ball. This will be a bit more easily accomplished if it has been refrigerated.
Plop the dough ball onto your well-floured work surface.
Step 3: How Many Pizzas Do You Want to Make?
This recipe makes about 1 large pizza, 2-3 mediums or 4-5 individual pizzas.
If making more than one, roll the dough into a log and divide.
Form the dough into balls. I do this by tucking the dough in at the bottom with some pressure, until it forms a ball.
At this point you can use the dough as you ordinarily would - stretching it, topping it and baking it. But to make it even more convenient and to achieve a crispier crust, I pre-bake the crusts as follows.
Step 4: Pre-bake the Crusts (convenient Like Those Store-bought Ones, But Waaaay Tastier)
Pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees.
Again taking care to flour the dough enough to prevent sticking, roll the dough out (or stretch it by hand). Then bake on a baking sheet or stone. I actually use a well oiled pie plate for my individual pizzas (see photo), but only because that's all I have. A dusting of corn meal helps keep the dough from sticking to a stone or sheet.
Recommended but optional: Using a fork, pierce the dough everywhere except the edges to prevent it from puffing up as it rises.
Bake for about 5 minutes. You just want the crust to rise and form, but not get browned. Remove from oven and let cool.
After cooling completely, you can put the crusts in large ziplock bags and freeze them.
To use frozen crust, just thaw, apply toppings, then bake at 500 degrees until the toppings are done and cheese is bubbling (about 7 minutes). You can bake it right on the oven rack since the crust is already formed. The final photo shows the finished product.