I got this recipe from my mother, who got it from an Italian lady that lived next door to her back in the day in Buenos Aires. The lady was Sicilian, and she said this recipe is how you make “real” Italian pizza. What I love about it is its simplicity and the fact that you can make the crust as thick and spongy or as thin and crispy as you want.
Ingredients (makes three large pizzas)
- 4 cups flour
- 5 cups warm water
- 1 pack (1/4 oz) instant dry yeast. The original recipe calls for fresh yeast, but dry yeast will work just the same. If you want to try fresh yeast, use twice the amount of fresh yeast as dry yeast called for in the recipe.
- ¼ cup vegetable oil + extra for coating the pan
- 1 tbsp salt
- In a large bowl, mix the flour with the salt.
- In a cup of warm water, activate the dry yeast (or dissolve the fresh yeast).
- Add the yeast and water mixture to the flour, along with the oil and the other ½ cup of water.
- Mix well with one hand until forming a gooey, wet, and sticky dough. You might need to add more water or flour to achieve the correct consistency.
- Cover with plastic or a clean kitchen towel and keep in a warm place to rise. It should double in size, about 45 minutes.
- While the dough is rising, preheat your oven. Pizza needs to be cooked in a really hot oven. I set mine (convection oven) to 485F. If your oven takes too long to warm up, turn it on before you make the dough.
- Coat a couple of cookie sheets or pizza pans with plenty of oil, as well as your hands. With your oily hands, scoop out a handful of dough and spread it as thinly or as thickly as you want on your cookie sheet. The dough will want to shrink back to its original state. Keep at it. Don’t give up. Add more pieces of dough if needed. The end result will be uneven – it might even have a hole here and there – and the edges won’t be pretty. Don’t worry. This rustic look will make it tastier too; it will have more nooks and crannies for the toppings to sip into, different depths, and more crusty edges.
- Put the dough in the oven (without any toppings) and cook for about 10 minutes. It should rise a little, but not much. The surface should be dry and no longer shiny. But it should not cook through or brown. If it’s brown, you’ve cooked it too long.
- Take the dough out of the oven, add your favorite topping(s) and cook again for about 10 more minutes.
Note: My mom used to double the recipe and make a bunch of pizzas to freeze. If you want to try that, don’t add any toppings. Simply let the pre-cooked dough cool off, wrap with plastic, and save in the freezer for up to three weeks.
Bonus! Basic tomato sauce for pizza: combine a can of crushed tomatoes with 2 tbsp of freshly minced garlic, 3 tbsp of vegetable oil, salt, and dry oregano. Do not cook it. Spread the cold tomato mixture on your pizza dough and add your favorite cheese or other toppings.