You've probably had classic, New York–style pizza. Perhaps you've tried Chicago-style pizza, or pillowy Sicilian-style, or traditional Neopolitan-style (you know, the kind that's chewy, circular and mottled with swoonworthy char spots from a wood oven).
Now I'd like to introduce you to Lazy Weeknight–style pizza. Yup, it's a thing, starting—checks watch—right this minute. More specifically, it's my way of making pizza dough when time is of the essence, and I'm craving the homemade stuff. Thanks to a few tricks (please don't hate me, pizzaioli everywhere), the dough still yields a wonderfully tender, airy crumb, with crispy, oil-drenched edges, and a subtle, nuanced flavor that complements any topping combinations beautifully. Lazy Weeknight–style pizza doesn't promise to be the most authentic, or the longest-fermented, or even remotely technically precise—but it does promise to be so darn delicious and efficient (like, ready-to-serve pizza on the table in less than an hour), it'll become a staple in your rotation.
As the brilliant J. Kenji López-Alt explains over on Serious Eats, the protein content of wheat flour is responsible for gluten formation, which is what helps doughs form (and hold) bubbles of air—aka, what gives them a soft, chewy texture, versus a hard, brittle one. I highly recommend reading his flour guide for a more detailed explanation, but essentially, using bread flour (which has a higher protein content than all-purpose) makes for a stretchier pizza dough with a more irregular, airy crumb structure.
This could be your kitchen table, in one hour from now. Photo by Julia Gartland.
My Lazy Weeknight Pizza Dough calls for "Tipo 00" bread flour, the most finely milled type of this high-protein flour, yielding a silkier texture in the final pizza. (I use Caputo brand, which López-Alt calls "the gold standard of pizza flours.") Even with the stunted proof (we never even let the dough fully double—look away, technical experts, look away!), the baked pizza is tender and chewy with a fair amount of air bubbles, thanks in part to the flour. (Other important factors include the lack of over-kneading, and a relatively high hydration level.)
While I prefer to make my dough with Tipo 00 for the best-possible texture, you can swap in regular old bread flour if it's what you've got.
Focusing on flavor
We're not making a slow-fermented dough here—or even a fully proofed one. Does more fermentation mean more flavor? Generally, yes. But it also means more time, which is not the goal of this pizza recipe. The goal is speed, which means we're going to have to get that deep flavor from somewhere else. For that, I turn to wine.
It's a trick I first came across on Smitten Kitchen, who wrote about it in 2007. When I started adding wine to my own dough, I noticed it did wonders in terms of adding dimensionality and just a touch of (very welcome) funk. I've tinkered and tinkered with the proportions to get as much flavor as possible, without hurting the yeast in the dough. I recommend using a medium-bodied, dry-ish white wine that you love to drink (go ahead, I'll wait while you pour yourself a "chef's glass")—but you don't have to worry too much about dryness, because there's a fair amount of salt in the dough to balance, anyway.
Wherever you stand on the red pizza versus white pizza debate, you're going to want this dough recipe. Photo by Julia Gartland.
Let's get this (pizza) party started
Lazy Weeknight–style pizza only asks one thing of you: that you really enjoy it. So once you've made a batch of the dough, feel free to put it toward your favorite pizza recipe. Got a wood-burning oven? Great, use that. Prefer to divide it into two and make round, skillet pies? Sky's the limit. Here's what I like to do:
While the dough is proofing, preheat your oven to between 500°F and 525°F. Coat the bottom and sides of an 18x13-inch sheet pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil, and gently stretch the dough to fill the pan (the gentler, the better since we’re not really doing a second proof). Stretch it a little bit extra, because it’ll slink back into itself as it sits. Let the stretched dough sit in the pan for about 10 minutes to give it a chance to puff back up a bit. Then, drizzle it with a little more olive oil (you can use what was left over in your proofing bowl), sprinkle with salt, and proceed with the toppings.
Toppings-wise, figure 1 cup of your favorite red sauce, or canned pureed tomatoes with a big pinch each of salt and red pepper flakes, and about 12 ounces of sliced, shredded, or grated low-moisture mozzarella. Go crazy with other adornments—some of my favorites are jalapeños sliced into rings with pepperoni or bacon, and slices of yellow onion with mushrooms. I also love to swap some of the mozzarella out for Taleggio. If you’re adding anything more delicate (e.g., spinach, or super thinly sliced garlic, or little dollops of fresh herb pesto), do so midway through the bake time to avoid burning.
In terms of cook time, depending on oven temperature, you’ll need somewhere between 12 and 16 minutes. Check in on your pie occasionally and adjust oven temperature as needed—you want crust that’s crisp and golden all around the edges, and cheese that has bubbled up and become dotted with brown spots.
Now, go forth and pizza-party on:
Lazy Weeknight Pizza Dough
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil for greasing mixing bowl and hands
3 1/4 cups (413 grams) “Tipo 00” bread flour, plus more for kneading (I like Caputo; note that you can swap regular bread flour if needed)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 (1/4 ounce) packet rapid rise instant yeast
1 1/3 cups water, warmed to about 110°F
1/4 cup medium-bodied white wine, at room temperature (one you like to drink)
See last item under Directions for notes about constructing your pizza
Click here for the full recipe.