Pizza is a classic example of a food which takes a lot of elapsed time to do well, but almost no actual work time. It is also very scalable, and can be made nearly as easily for one, for four, or for a bigger crowd.
Here is my standard white dough recipe which I have used for pizza, focaccia, baguettes, and rolls. I have shown below the usual amounts for 4 persons, and a scaled down version for one person which I recently made when I knew I was going to have dinner by myself and decided to give myself a pizza. You can use either volume or weight measurements for the flour, but it is easier and more consistent to use weight, since a particular volume of flour can have a wide range of weights depending on how much the four has settled over time. This is a classic recipe using only the 4 ingredients used in Vera Pizza Napoletana.
- Bread Flour 13 oz. (3 cups)
- Salt 1-1/2 tsp.
- Yeast ¼ tsp. (More yeast can be used if you are in a hurry, but a long slow rise is best.)
- Water 1-1/4 cup
- Bread Flour 3.25 oz. (3/4 cup)
- Salt 3/8 tsp.
- Yeast Large pinch (~1/16 tsp.) (More yeast can be used if you are in a hurry, but a long slow rise is best.)
- Water 5 Tbs
In the morning mix together the dry ingredients in an appropriate sized bowl. Stir in the water until all of the flour has been moistened. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest and hydrate for about 15 minutes. This step is called autolyze and is an effortless way of developing gluten. After the 15 minutes, briefly knead the dough using as little flour as possible until the dough is evenly hydrated and smooth. This will be a very sticky dough and a bit hard to handle. A bench scraper is a useful tool for handling this dough. Put the dough back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a lid. Allow to proof at room temperature until doubled, which will take around 8 hours with the large pinch of yeast. (The yeast can be increased up to 4 times the recommended amount if you have less time, and the doubling will be faster.) If the dough is rising too quickly, store it in the refrigerator to retard the dough until you are ready to bake.
Preheat your oven to 475 degrees. If using a pizza steel or pizza stone (highly recommended to increase heat transfer to the dough and give it a better crust), allow time for the steel or stone to become fully heated before baking the pizza.
Divide the dough into one ball per person, so that each person can get their own pizza which they can top in whatever way they like. Use baking parchment and lightly flour it and the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll each ball of dough on the baking parchment into a circle roughly 9 inches in diameter. Top each pizza round. Do not use too much topping, since a pizza is best if there is balance between the bread and the topping. Too little is better than too much. The photo above was made with ¼ cup of pizza sauce, covered with 3 oz. grated mozzarella, 1 oz. Mexican cheese blend, 2 oz. cooked Mexican chorizo, and sliced pickled jalapenos. Bake until the dough is cooked and the cheese is melted and bubbling. This will be about 12 minutes on a baking steel (which makes the best crust), a bit longer on a baking stone, and longer again without either. Remove from the oven, allow to rest for a minute or two, and then slice and serve. If cooking four pizzas, it is easiest to put two each on cookie sheets, and then rotate the sheets halfway through the baking to ensure even baking.