Ah, those three little words we all love to hear: no-knead bread. And since summer has finally arrived – and with it an abundance of farmers’ markets, roadside vegetable stands, and an ever-increasing bounty from our own gardens – let’s amend those three words to four: no-knead pizza crust, made from no-knead bread dough.
“Summertime, and the living is easy…” Or not. Days are longer for sure; but sometimes that simply translates to more daylight for getting extra stuff done. Mowing the lawn. Pulling weeds. Walking the dog after supper. Somehow, rather than slowing down to enjoy the season, we simply work longer.
And if that’s the case, it pays to work efficiently. Who knows, if you plan everything right you might just have time to enjoy homemade pizza and drinks on the deck – watching the sun go down on all your unfinished outdoor projects.
Speaking of homemade pizza, it’s not a stretch to turn no-knead bread dough into pizza crust. Though actually, that’s exactly what it is: take a handful of your favorite no-knead bread dough, s-t-r-e-t-c-h it into a circle, and there you have it: no-knead pizza crust.
Let’s do it. I have some no-knead bread dough in the fridge, and pizza is calling my name.
Here’s my no-knead bread dough. It’s been sitting in the fridge overnight.
Look at that gluten! Time steps in for physical kneading in no-knead bread dough. As your minimally mixed dough rests in the refrigerator, the gluten gradually develops itself into the long, C02-trapping strands you see here.
I’m making a 10″ pizza, which translates to about 14 ounces of dough – just about one-quarter of the entire No-Knead Crusty White Bread recipe. So one recipe of our no-knead bread dough will make four nice-sized pizzas.
First, I cut a 12″ square of parchment.
Since I’m going to bake the pizza on a stone, parchment is a must-have. I don’t like fussing with the potentially sticky, floppy transition from a cornmeal- or semolina-sprinkled peel to pizza stone. Parchment makes the job much simpler.
I do a preliminary stretch, using my fingertips to press a ridge all around the outside edge; this will translate to a thick, chewy edge. If you like a thinner edge, simply stretch your pizza into a flat round.
After waiting 15 minutes for the gluten to relax, I pick up the crust and gently stretch it into a 10″ round. Want to see how? Our video walks you through two easy shaping methods.
Now, you can bake your pizza crust right away; or let it rest for awhile, for a somewhat thicker crust. I let my crust rest for 40 minutes, while I preheat the oven to 450°F, with the pizza stone in the lower third of the oven.
Ten minutes in the oven creates a beautifully puffy crust.
Hey, what happened to the toppings? I like to bake my crust partway before adding the vegetables, cheese, etc. I find this benefits both crust (thoroughly baked) and toppings (not over-baked).
My first pizza for this project was wonderfully summery: oven-roasted tomatoes, fresh basil pesto, and mozzarella. However, it honestly wasn’t very photogenic.
So I tried another version: turkey pepperoni, sautéed mushrooms, and shredded Italian-blend cheese.
Five minutes on the stone, and an additional 5 minutes on an upper rack was just the right amount of time for the topping to warm and the cheese to melt.
I like to add extra cheese on top, once the pizza’s out of the oven.
The pizza’s heat melts it just enough. And if it doesn’t, I simply throw the pizza back into the oven for a minute or so to help the process along.
And look at that crumb! Now THAT’S the kind of edge I like.
This was a slice of my initial tomato/pesto pizza. Not a winner in the looks department, but honestly, beauty is only crust deep. The pizza tasted great.
As did this pepperoni-mushroom version. Served – YES – as the sun went down, with drinks on the deck, overlooking the unmowed lawn (and unwalked dog relaxing on said lawn).
Hey, the work will always be there. A golden July evening? Fleeting. Seize the summer day!
Want to make a totally easy, totally fast pizza? Start with the dough from our No-Knead Crusty White Bread. And if you’re looking for other tasty transitions, check out our No-Knead Bread Three Ways: Savory (and Sweet) Add-Ins.