I am not a morning person. When I see my roommate after I wake up, I greet him with a hearty "Guhhhhhhhh." For all intents and purposes, I'm a walking zombie who has just enough mental capacity to do simple things like move around (albeit slowly) and maybe eat some food. I don't really get moving until about 30-45 minutes after I wake up.
Thankfully, sometimes I have just enough functional thought processes to do slightly more complex things like measure quantities of ingredients. Which is how I found myself recently making pizza dough in my pajamas.
I got this recipe from Joe Yonan's "Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking For One." It's a no-knead pizza dough that's about as straightforward as they come: dump a bunch of ingredients in a bowl, mix until combined, cover and forget about it for 8-12 hours. The timing is great for me because I can put the dough together in the morning before I leave for work and when I get home at the end of the day, I have pizza dough all ready for me to work with.
I also like that I don't need to think that much when putting this together. As long as I can read a measuring cup I'm pretty good, and I usually reach that level of functionality about 15 minutes after I wake up. Since it's a no-knead recipe, I don't have to make an effort at physical activity well before my body has the strength to do much of anything. And the upside of doing this in my pajamas is that if I get a little bit of flour or pizza dough on me, it's not that annoying, while if it got on my work clothes, I'd be a lot more upset.
A word about the dough itself: this dough is pretty sticky and wet. You're not looking for a smooth and not tacky dough as you would normally expect. Since the recipe is not given in weight, but rather in volume, there's a good chance you'll have to adjust your water based on how much flour you ended up with in the bowl. The most important thing is that all the flour is mixed into the dough. If it seems a bit wet before the rise, don't worry: you can always add more flour down the line. Better to err on the wetter side. And remember, this is a no-knead dough. You don't need to work this thing to death, just enough to ensure everything is combined.
Joe Yonan's book is full of recipes that use this dough, almost all of which involve a broiler or a pizza stone at 500 degrees. I don't have a functional broiler or pizza stone, so I've been sticking it in the oven on a baking sheet at 425. But you should play around with it until you find something you like. I'm pretty sure this will work well in most existing pizza recipes.
Finally, you are obviously not required to make this in your pajamas. But it's a lot of fun to do. Especially when your roommate comes out of his room, sees you in the kitchen mixing dough, asks what you're doing, and gets a "bluuuuugggh" in return while you shake your flour covered hands in his general direction.
I'm pretty sure that happened. Maybe. I wasn't quite awake enough to remember everything.
"No-Knead Pizza Dough" Adapted from Joe Yonan's Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One. (Another version of this appeared in the Washington Post here: No-Knead Pizza Dough)
- 4 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon instant dry yeast (also known as rapid rise or bread machine yeast)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Combine flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Add water and stir until blended.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.
- The dough should be ready to work with after at least 8 hours, when it has risen and is bubbly on the surface. I've had it rise for 12 hours without any problems; I suspect it could go longer but I've never tried. When you think it's close to ready, put the bowl in the refrigerator for an hour to make the next steps easier.
- Rub your hands and the work surface with olive oil and turn the dough out. Dust it with flour and fold it over on itself a few times. Continue with this until the dough comes together and holds its shape.
- Cut the dough into 5 equal pieces (about 6 ounces each), one for each personal pizza.
- Sprinkle each dough ball with flour, cover, and let rise for an hour before baking.
Any dough balls you aren't using immediately should either be refrigerated (up to 3 days) or frozen (up to 3 months). Keep each ball separate in its own Ziploc bag. You can coat the dough ball in olive oil inside the bag, but I haven't found that to be so necessary. If the dough ball is refrigerated (or defrosted in the fridge), leave it in a room temperature environment for an hour before you start to use it.