Because of long, slow fermentation, our U-bake pizza dough makes a crust with sizeable holes, a crisp bottom and a great, chewy texture. Improvise toppings based on what’s on hand and in season (see suggestions below), but do go easy on them– you want to use a light hand so the crust blisters and puffs as it bakes. When stretching out the dough, think small and rustic and don’t worry if your pizza doesn’t look perfect. It will be delicious!
Makes one 10- to 12-inch round pizza
1 package Grand Central U-bake pizza dough, thawed
Toppings of your choice:
- Sauce – extra-virgin olive oil, Piper’s pizza sauce, béchamel
- Cheese – Parmesan, shredded fontina, sliced fresh mozzarella
- Meat – browned Italian sausage, pepperoni, prosciutto
- Veggies – Caramelized onions, spinach, roasted peppers, calamata olives
Olive oil, for brushing crust
Preheat oven and prepare crust
Place a pizza stone in the oven, near the bottom or on the floor, and preheat to oven to 450 degrees for at least 30 minutes. You’ll want to switch the hood vent on and do what you can to create good ventilation in your kitchen.
Let the dough ball come to room temperature covered with the bag it came in or a sheet of plastic wrap.
Transfer dough to a pizza peel or upside-down sheet pan covered with a piece of baking parchment. Tug, press and stretch the dough with your fingers from the middle outward to form a rough circle about 12 inches across. If the dough wants to spring back to its original shape, let it rest of 5 to 10 minutes and try again. Be patient; this skill is developed over time, with practice. If you make a hole in the dough, patch it with a small piece of dough from a thicker area. Resist the urge to ball up the dough and start over.
Top and bake the pizza
Using a light hand, spoon on a thin layer of sauce or a drizzle of olive oil. Follow this with a modest scattering of cheese. Finish with meat and/or vegetables. You should be able to see all of the toppings when you’ve finished (i.e., the sauce shouldn’t be covered entirely by the cheese and the cheese shouldn’t be covered entirely by the next layer of toppings).
Slide the pizza and parchment onto the hot stone and quickly close the door to keep the heat in. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until crust is deep brown and crispy and the cheese is bubbling. (The parchment paper will get dark in the oven but it won’t catch fire.)
Cool and serve
Cool for at least 5 minutes on the counter before cutting (otherwise you will make a mess of the toppings); brush the exposed crust lightly with olive oil to soften it then cut with a sharp knife or scissors.
Favorite pizza combinations: Tomato, fresh mozzarella and torn basil leaves on an olive oil base; Pork sausage and caramelized onions and parmesan on an olive oil base; béchamel sauce with Parmesan, prosciutto, fresh spinach and an egg cracked over the middle halfway through baking time. Grand Central Bakery Whole-Wheat U-bake dough makes delicious flatbread – prepare the crust as instructed above, bake as directed, brush with good-quality olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
Adapted from The Grand Central Baking Book