While we certainly don't have a shortage of pizza places here in the Windy City, making a pie by scratch can be a lot of fun. But before you get down to business and start punching dough, take a couple of minutes to review these six tips for making a perfect pizza pie, courtesy of Flour & Stone. Even though this Streeterville pizzeria specializes in Brooklyn-style pies, these pointers are universal no matter where in the world you prefer your pizza to taste like.
1. Stretch: Make sure the dough is stretched slightly beyond the size you want for the final pizza. When heated, most pizza doughs will shrink.
2. Keep it chilly: The warmer your dough is, the harder it will be to work with. A colder dough will be more manageable and less likely to overstretch or become misshapen.
3. Consistency is key: Be careful to not make the crust too thin in places, as that's where tears will happen and burning is more likely to occur. Bonus secret: Tossing dough in the air is a key way to keep the same thickness throughout the crust!
4. Lay it on thick: Make sure whatever sauce you choose covers the pizza completely, leaving only a half inch-wide crust at the most. Toppings and sauce discourage internal bubbles and keep your crust looking like a pizza, not a pita.
5. Take it to the edge: As your pizza cooks, toppings and cheese will slide inward from the rising crust. Make sure to place everything close to the edges so you're not left with all crust and a tiny pizza.
6. Cut 'em up: It's best to cut pizza when it’s fresh out of the oven and crispy; the longer a pizza sits and cools, the harder it will be to cut through.
Of course, now that you've got all this newfound knowledge, you want to put it to the test, right? While Flour & Stone's crust is a proprietary secret, they did share with us a basic recipe for you to put to good use.
1 cup warm water
1 (1/4-oz) envelope active dry yeast
1 tsp honey
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
Yellow cornmeal, for sprinkling the baking sheet
Steps: 1. In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, honey, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, stirring to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated, and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until the dough is smooth but still slightly sticky. You might not need all of the flour.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth but still slightly tacky, three-to-five minutes.
4. Oil a large mixing bowl with remaining olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place, free from drafts until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.