Some days the pizza craving comes on strong and fast. Too fast to think ahead and have dough prepped. Too strong to put off another day. You need the pizza and you need it tonight. If you find yourself suffering from pizza fever, for the love of god, don’t settle for mediocre (or worse) takeout pizza. Making pizza at home isn’t a big undertaking and the results (maybe with a little practice, but not much) are far, far superior to your average suburban pizza shop.
For those times when I haven’t made any dough ahead of time, this is my go-to pizza recipe for a same day no-knead, no-roll, almost no-fail Sicilian sheet pan pizza. It can feed a crowd and be paired with a simple salad and some wine for a filling, no-fuss dinner, weeknight or weekend.
Here is my routine:
The dough recipe is from Serious Eats and the secret ingredient is adding some cooked Russet potato to the dough, which adds some starch and richness without adding more oil or fat.
From simple ingredients, you can make one tasty pie.
I do not have a ricer, but I’ve found grating the cooled, cooked potato works just fine and leaves some nice flecks of skin in the dough for people to puzzle over.
This is a pretty wet dough and you’ll need a stand mixer’s power to really mix/beat it well enough to get the gluten to form. A food processor or just brute arm strength won’t work.
Once the dough has been mixed (it will still be wet and pretty stick), scoop it out onto an oiled half sheet pan. You’re going to want something with an edge.
Seeing the state of that pan in the picture, it’s apparent that I make way too much pizza and probably need to order some new ones.
If you’re the type of person that frets over the amount of cheese and oil in a recipe, first, what are you doing making pizza, and, second, this is probably not the recipe for you. Once the dough is on the pan, cover with more oil!
Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise. Time is your friend. Remember, this is no-knead, no-roll, no-mess.
My kitchen tends to be on the cold side, so I like to add a little tea towel blanket and put the dough on top of a slightly warm toaster oven to rise.
You can also turn your oven on and let it preheat to a low temp, maybe 250, and then turn it off. You can then put the dough in the oven and crack the door to give it a warm place to rise.
While the dough is rising, you could make a sauce. I’ve found all the corn syrup in most store-bough sauces make them too sweet and, just like the pizza itself, it’s so easy to make a simple tomato sauce at home, why not do it?
First, warm a big glug of olive oil (more oil!) with some crushed or minced garlic. Add a can of tomatoes. I like to use either whole or crushed tomatoes. Stir. Add half an onion and some springs of basil. Go read a book while things simmer and rise for a few hours.
Preheat your oven to 550. Don’t cheat on this. You want it good and hot. Give it at least a half hour.
I know the recipe says let it rise about 2 hours, but I typically find letting it go 3 or 4 is better. Maybe I don’t beat it enough to start with (I always err on the short side of mixing) or maybe it’s my cold kitchen. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s spread out almost completely into the corners.
Gently spread the dough toward the corners, starting from the middle. Try not to push all the air out of the dough. Once it’s close, pull the corners out and beyond the pan and let it settle back into the corner. Sorry, should have taken a picture of that.
If the dough is snapping or pulling back, let it rest some more.
You are going to pre-bake, or parbake, the crust to allow it to set a bit before adding the cheese and toppings. I like to add a layer of sauce to the dough and let it roast a bit with the dough in the oven to give it a little more flavor.
Here’s another place I deviate from the recipe a bit. I like to parbake the crust longer, 10-12 minutes to really get it to cook all the way through. Too many times, I would follow the recipe, add the toppings, continue baking and find an under-cooked middle.
This is after parbaking with some toppings on top, but before throwing on the cheese. You can see the edges are almost fully cooked. You can also see that I didn’t go crazy on the toppings. You want to slice everything thin, maybe saute it a bit (personal preference – it will be in the oven long enough to cook most toppings other than raw meat), and go lightly.
Add your cheese of choice (preference and pairings may depend on the toppings). I also like to add some extra dollops of sauce throughout.
Bake for 5-7 more minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Loosen underneath with a metal spatula and slide off onto a large cutting board.
This year’s Christmas present of a mezzaluna now comes in handy on Sicilian night. Slice into squares, try not to burn your mouth, and enjoy! If you’re feeling any guilt, pair with a salad. Guilt or not, definitely enjoy with some good red wine.
I know I said it would feed a crowd, but on this night Michelle and I ate the entire sheet pan between ourselves. It was that good. I hope you give it a try. Happy to answer any questions, too.