Quest for the Perfect Pizza Dough: Take Two

Last spring I began a quest for the perfect pizza dough, and the first recipe I tried didn’t cut it. I had every intention of getting right back in the kitchen, but pregnancy destroyed all my ambition. So that’s how I find myself a little over a year later finally getting around to pizza dough number two.

We haven’t spent much time in the kitchen since Penny was born, but we’re making a concerted effort to do better now that we’re out of the harrowing (but achingly sweet) newborn weeks and our life is settling down into what I think is a new normal. We’re keeping meals simple for now, and pizza is about as easy as it gets, with easy prep, only a little clean up, and an endless variety of combinations to try, many of which are fresh and healthy!


I went back to the Smitten Kitchen cookbook for take two since the book includes two recipes and I figured it was only fair to give both of them a shot. The only difference in ingredients is that this “leisurely” dough has slightly less yeast because the rise time is so much longer. So right from the get go I was expecting mediocre results. Luckily, my expectations were too low. While this isn’t the recipe that will end my quest, it was an improvement over the first one. The crust puffed nicely and had a bit more flavor to it, thanks to the longer rise.

The best thing about this pizza, though, is that we grilled it.

David and I are not overjoyed with our current apartment, but one of the perks is that it has a balcony and we’re allowed to have a grill. I’d heard about grilling pizzas before, but couldn’t imagine it. In my mind the soft dough would just melt right down between the grill bars before the crust had a chance to set up, leaving a sad, doughy mess at the bottom of the grill. I guess this is just one of those magical things, though, because grilling pizza totally works!

Unlike baking a pizza in the oven, when you grill a pizza you want to start with just the dough: don’t put any toppings on it yet. Over medium heat, grill your rolled out dough for 3-5 minutes. Flip it over, then add your toppings, and cook for another 3 minutes or so. Remove from the grill, slice, and enjoy!

We topped this pizza with brush of olive oil, yellow tomatoes, red bell peppers, chèvre, and basil. Delicious.


Smitten Kitchen’s Leisurely Pizza Dough

Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Yield: Dough for one pizza


  • 1/2 Cup warm–not hot–water (I always need more than this).
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 tsp yeast
  • 1 1/2 Cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more to dust the counter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Olive oil, for coating the bowl


  • Pour the water into a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it stand for 5 minutes. The yeast will start to bloom as the granules expand. This is called “proofing” the yeast, and is done to make sure that the yeast is still alive.
  • Add flour and salt and mix until a shaggy dough forms (if you find you need more water to keep it together, as I often do, add warm water one tablespoon at a time. Don’t overdo it). If using a stand mixer, knead for 5 minutes with the dough hook. If kneading by hand, flour your counter lightly and go for ten minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic when its ready; tacky to the touch, but not sticky.
  • Drizzle a little bit of olive oil into a bowl, and place your dough inside, rolling it around in the oil so that all sides are coated. Cover your bowl (tip: a shower cap is the absolute best thing for this. Cheap, reusable, and SO MUCH EASIER than struggling with saran wrap. I keep half a dozen shower caps in my kitchen at all times) and place it in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.
  • About an hour before you’re ready to use it,take the bowl out of the fridge and let the dough come to room temperature. The dough should have risen until almost double in size. Press a finger gently into the dough; if the dough remains indented and doesn’t spring back right away it’s ready! Gently press down on the dough to deflate.
  • Roll, toss, or stretch to your desired shape, top with deliciousness, and bake (usually at your oven’s highest heat, for 10-12 minutes) or grill over medium heat (reserving toppings until the first side of the dough has cooked and been flipped).


About Kelly

Kelly grew up in the suburbs of Boston, mere minutes from the Atlantic ocean. For several years she lived in New York City where she found the two loves of her life: Publishing and David. She moved to the Twin Cities for her husband, and eventually managed to pick up the pieces of her career as well. Although she’s learning to appreciate lakes, she misses the ocean ferociously.

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