I really can’t remember the last time we had pizza for dinner. It’s definitely been a while. I’ve made flatbreads as side dishes or hors d’oeuvres – but not a plain ol’ pepperoni pizza.

Tonight, we decided to rectify the situation.

There was a time in my life when just about all I did eat was pizza. Those days at Pirro’s  – hell, those years at Pirro’s – pretty much killed pizza for me. It was years before I could look one in the face – and I’m still pretty particular about the pizza I eat. You will never see a stuffed crust chain pizza delivery whatever in this house. Ever.

But a good pizza is not something to pass up and by the time I made it to the east coast the first time, I could handle getting a slice at any number of places.

Pizza dough is one of those things I can make in my sleep – it’s just flour, water, salt, and yeast – but about 5 years ago I found a recipe in La Cucina Italiana – when they still had an English edition – that was a 2-day slow rise with just a pinch of yeast. I gave it a try and it’s now the dough of choice. The drawback is you have to plan your pizza-making. The good news is the dough freezes.

Pizza Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (100º to 105º)
  • 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 4 cups “00” flour or unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for bowl

Sprinkle yeast over warm water in bowl of mixer fitted with dough hook. Let proof about 5 minutes.

Mix together flour and salt. Add to yeast mixture. Mix on low speed about 4 minutes or until dough forms a coarse ball. Stop mixer and cover bowl with a towel. Let dough rest about 5 minutes, then remove towel and continue mixing another 2 minutes or so.

Lightly oil a large bowl. Form dough into a ball, transfer to bowl and turn to lightly coat with oil. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes, then refrigerate overnight.

Punch down dough, re-roll, and return to bowl. Tightly cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

Divide dough into 2 pieces; shape pieces into balls and place on a lightly floured work surface. Loosely cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled, about 2 hours.

Start with a dough ball and on a lightly-floured board, press down and flatten  it with your fingertips.

Stretch into a circle. The easiest way – really – is just to toss it in the air a bit. Just drape it over your hands and flip it a bit with your fingertips. If you can’t manage that, smack it with your hands and roll it with a rolling pin. But you’ll miss out on the fun and experience.

Next is the sauce… I make a pretty basic sauce with some of our home-canned tomato sauce, tomato paste, a teeny splash of wine if I need to thin it a bit, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano.

And then the cheese… I think I actually prefer low moisture mozzarella for a pepperoni/meat pizza, but 1) I’m not a fanatic about it and 2) I had fresh in the house.

Finally, the pepperoni, a bit of grated parmesan cheese, and a sprinkle of oregano – and into the oven.

The two of us finished this off. Nonna had chicken and mashed potatoes.

It really was everything I was hoping for – and it was a great motivator to make another batch of dough and get a couple of dough balls into the freezer. The dough really does gain flavor by the slow refrigerated risings – and it honestly is easy to do.

So make some!