The Easiest Pizza You'll Ever Make 2.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Jun 6, 2018

The beauty of this pizza is that it doesn't require any special equipment. This simple red sauce pizza is just a starting point (so is the amount of mozzarella — add more if you like it cheesy). We prefer using finer-grained semolina under the rolled out dough to help slide it into the oven, but cornmeal is fine, too. Either fresh mozzarella from the cheese or deli counters or the firmer kind you find in the grocery store aisle will work on top of the pizza.

Especially if your oven is not spotless, be prepared to open a window or turn on the exhaust fan. Smoke can happen once the semolina starts to turn dark or if some of the toppings slide off and burn. Brushing the semolina off the baking sheet in between pizzas (use heavy-duty oven mitts to pick it up) helps.

You'll have enough extra dough for 2 more pizza crusts, which makes this recipe perfect for a pizza party (double the cheese and sauce ingredients). Or freeze the risen dough in 2 portions, which will shorten your pizzamaking session the next time.

Click here to see step-by-step photos for this recipe.

Make Ahead: Dough for the crusts can be made at least 1 day in advance. Refrigerate it for at least 8 hours to let it slowly rise in cold storage after kneading, or refrigerate after it has risen for an hour or two at room temperature. The dough can be frozen for up to a few months.


Servings:
2 - 4

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 2-4 servings; makes two 12-inch pizzas, plus dough for 2 more pizzas

Ingredients
  • For the crust
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast or instant yeast, or 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 cups (23 1/2 to 25 1/2 ounces) flour, plus more as needed
  • Semolina, for dusting the baking sheet (may substitute cornmeal)
  • For the toppings
  • 1 1/2 cups (half of one 26 1/2-ounce carton) strained tomatoes, such as Pomi brand
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced with a pinch of salt into a paste
  • Salt, as needed
  • Sugar, as needed
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions

For the crust: Combine the sugar, yeast, salt, oil and the lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the 4 3/4 cups flour, stirring it in with a wooden spoon. Add more flour, as needed, to form a soft dough that starts to come together in a shaggy mass.

Lightly flour your countertop. Turn the dough out there; use your hands to knead it until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 7 to 10 minutes. If it starts getting very sticky, sprinkle more flour on your hands, the dough and the counter. The stickiness will begin to go away as the dough smooths out.

Use some oil to grease a large bowl. Transfer the dough there, cover and place in a draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours (it should almost double in size), or transfer to the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

Meanwhile, make the toppings: Stir together the strained tomatoes and garlic in a medium bowl. Taste, and add salt and sugar as needed.

At least an hour before baking the pizza, place an inverted baking sheet or a pizza stone, if you own one, on the bottom oven rack; preheat to 500 degrees.

Lightly flour your countertop again. Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into four equal portions, turning each into a rough ball. Reserve 2 of them for later use, either by placing back in the covered bowl in the refrigerator or loosely wrapping them in plastic wrap and sealing in a zip-top bag in the freezer. Cover one portion with plastic wrap while you work with the first one. Use your fingertips to begin flattening the dough out until it's about 8 inches in diameter.

Hold one hand in the center of the dough to lightly anchor it. Use your other hand to begin stretching the dough on the side farthest from you, rotating the dough in quarter turns so that you are stretching all sides. If the dough resists stretching, let it rest for a few minutes. Aim for a round that's about 12 inches in diameter.

Use semolina to dust the surface of a rimless baking sheet or inverted, rimmed baking sheet. Transfer the dough round there.

Brush the dough with a bit of oil, if desired. Spread half of the sauce lightly over the surface, leaving about a 3/4-inch border around the edge. Add half of the mozzarella and half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano to taste.

Slide the dough from the rimless baking sheet onto the inverted baking sheet in the oven. Bake (bottom rack) for 13 to 16 minutes, until it's golden brown, the toppings are hot and bubbly, and the cheese is melted. Immediately transfer the pizza to a wire cooling rack (so the bottom doesn't get soggy).

Once the toppings have set for a bit (5 to 10 minutes), slice and serve.

Repeat the stretching, topping and baking with the remaining ball of dough.

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Recipe Source

Crust recipe adapted from KingArthurFlour.com.

Tested by Becky Krystal.

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