BA’s September Cover: Grandma’s Pizza!

it was worth the waiting!

it was worth the waiting!

Bon Appétit’s September cover recipe is homemade pizza with “grandma style pizza crust”.  I don’t know about your grandma, but my Slovak Nana never made pizza dough.  Pierogis, halupki, layered jello, and a mean pot roast, yes.  Pizza dough, no.  I think what constitutes this pizza dough as “grandma style” is the fact that you have to be patient, like a grandma, and wait a seemingly endless 24 hours for it to cold-ferment and rise in the fridge, then another 40-60 minutes for it to be stretchable and rise again in the pan, and finally 20 minutes of bake time in the oven.  Once it’s finished, however?  It’s damn good pizza.  A healthy layer of olive oil on the sheet pan lends a golden buttery brown crunch on the sides and bottom, and the crust with nooks and crannies is like a springy sponge.  We liked it.  A lot.

beautiful, right?

beautiful, right?

I have to be honest; I’ve never ever had success with homemade pizza dough.  I am dough phobic.  I mean, I can remember ruining ‘out of the box’ Jiffy pizza dough mix in college at age 20 with fellow instructor, Jason Keck, after teaching ski school all day.  It was a sticky gooey mess that got all over everything and never actually formed into the “smooth, elastic” desired pizza dough as printed on the box.  Keck and I eventually ended up in giggling fits all the way to Bilbo’s pizza, scraping dried dough from our hands as we drove.  I’ve tried and failed a few more times in my 30’s and eventually succumbed to buying my pizza dough from Whole Foods, which has yet to disappoint.

i can assure you, this is not Michigan

i can assure you, this is not Otsego, Michigan

Of course, the biggest p.i.a. of making any type of dough is kneading it.  Because I’m pregnant, old, and tired (and I hate kneading dough) I decided to let the dough hook of my stand-mixer do all the work, right?  I mean, what are these machines for if not doing the work your grandma had to do by hand?  (In case you hadn’t noticed, I was already going rogue with BA’s recipe.  It’s really no wonder dough never works for me.)  I knew I didn’t want a repeat of Jiffy mix pizza dough debacle, circa 1994, but I opted for the dough hook anyway.  I decided to let the yeast and warm water bubble up, then dump it into my mixing bowl with the olive oil, salt and flour and let the machine go to work.  I put the machine on medium and used the dough hook for 5 minutes until the dough looked super smooth and shiny, just like the instructions said it should look!  My attempt to pick up the dough, however, dashed any hopes of success and quickly gave me Jiffy mix flashbacks…  It was sticky, gooey and runny.  I apologize for the horrible out of focus below photo but I think I had dough in my eyes.

1994 called, and it doesn't want it's pizza dough back...

1994 called, and it doesn’t want it’s pizza dough back…

I realized what I should have realized back in the day – you must put your hands on the dough and work it.  I ended up adding maybe 6-8 big (4-fingered) pinches (one at a time) of flour to help it adhere together while I was kneading it, and eventually I ended up with a “soft, smooth, and elastic” dough BA says you should have in the end.  Now comes the waiting part… 24 hours in the fridge and you can begin again with said dough.

before 24 hours in fridge...

before 24 hours in fridge…

It didn’t rise much, like I thought it would have at least doubled but mine just kind of puffed up a bit, maybe half a size larger from when I first placed it in the fridge.

and after 24 hours in the fridge...

and after 24 hours in the fridge…

Next step is to pour 1/2 a cup of olive oil onto a 18×13″ baking sheet.  Does 1/2 a cup seem excessive to you?  Me too.  I was seriously having my doubts with the only slightly risen dough and overall recipe at this point.  The dough was literally swimming on top of Lake Olive Oil.  I was unable to stretch the dough to the corners because the oil had pooled in them.

either this is going be seriously awesome or seriously disastrous

either this is going be seriously awesome or seriously disastrous

I ended up scooping tablespoons of olive oil out of the pan so I could stretch the dough to the corners without an overflowing oil slick.  I scooped maybe 1/8 of a cup’s worth, so adjust accordingly.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm (not above 70 degrees) spot and let rise for 40 more minutes.

wrap it up, yo

wrap it up, yo

At this point in the recipe, use the 40 minutes of rising time to make sauce and chop toppings.

no bad could come of these ingredients!

nothing bad could come of these ingredients!

Purée together a can of San Marzano’s, 2 anchovy fillets, 2 cloves of garlic, a fistful of basil leaves and 6 tablespoons of olive oil.  I thought about using the oil I siphoned from the pizza pan but I had already dumped it in the sink.  Wiz up the ingredients and taste – adding salt and pepper if necessary – and your sauce is ready.  I have to admit, this was my first time ever using anchovies.  The sauce was a little sweet, a little salty, and there was something about it (anchovies) that you couldn’t quite put your finger on… kind of like worcestershire on your burgers.  The little filets gave it that extra oomph, you know?

adding the oomph!

anchovies low in mercury and high in iron, calcium and omega-3 acids; highly recommended for preggos!

Next step, load the toppings onto the pizza.

meats, then cheese, then...

meats, then cheese, then…

Meats, (pancetta and soppressata) shredded cheese, then BA says to put sauce on last (gasp!).  Saucing last went against every pizza fiber in my being, but I complied.  I dolloped spoonfuls of sauce all over the pizza, praying that at hour 26 in this process that I wasn’t ruining all my hard work.

praying to the pizza gods

praying to the pizza gods

Crank your oven to 525 and let the pizza go for 20-30 minutes.  Once finished, the pie was golden brown on the top, bottom and sides (thanks olive oil!), and The Hubs couldn’t wait to sink his teeth into it.  I had to finish the pizza with a few more items.  Fresh sliced tomatoes, dots of ricotta, and torn basil on The Hub’s side.  Ricotta dots with spicy arugula on my side.  I have to say, it turned out like a masterpiece!!!  Browned and crispy, warm toppings mixing with cold, DEEELISH!!!!  This pizza reminded me of Buddy’s square pizza back home in Detroit.  Only better.  Sorry for doubting you, BA!!

The Hub's side

The Hub’s side

my side

my side

Grandma’s Pizza

Prep time: 25 hours
Cook time: 20-30 minutes(ish)
Makes: 1 18×13″ pan pizza

Print This Recipe!

Dough Ingredients:

  • 1 envelope active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (105-110 degrees F)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (divided)

Dough Method:

  1. Combine the yeast and the warmed water and let sit for 10 minutes, until foamy.
  2. Mix the yeast water with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of salt and 2 cups of flour.  (Use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook on medium for easier mixing.)
  3. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour, one cup at a time and let mix until a craggy dough forms.
  4. Lift the dough out of the stand mixer and turn out onto a well-floured surface.  Add teaspoons of more flour as needed, bringing dough together into a less gooey state.
  5. Knead dough until it is “soft, smooth, and elastic”, maybe 10 minutes or so.
  6. Place dough into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill in fridge overnight.

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 anchovies
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup tender basil leaves
  • salt & pepper to taste

Sauce Method:  Wiz it up in a blender until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pizza Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups grated mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 cups pizza sauce
  • whatever the hell else you like on pizza
  • between 1/4 of a cup and 1/2 of a cup (use your judgement) of olive oil for oiling the sheet pan
  • coarse salt for finishing


  1. Pour oil onto an 18×13″ sheet pan. Remove 24 hour dough from fridge.  Using the steering wheel method, (right hand over left hand over right hand over left hand), stretch the dough into a rough rectangular shape onto the oiled pan.  Gently push the dough into the corners as well as possible.  If the dough springs back, let it rest for 10 minutes.  You might have to let it rest more than once to fit it to the corners of the pan.
  2. Once the dough is fitted to the pan, cover it with plastic wrap and store in a warm (not above 70 degrees) area and let it rest 40 minutes longer.
  3. Once the dough has had its final rest, it should be puffed up again and have air bubbles.  Add your toppings, meats, then cheese and whatever else you like, then sauce.
  4. Bake at 525 for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden on top, sides, and bottom.


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  1. I have never, EVER had luck with making pizza dough in my kitchen. I’ve completely given up … or have I? This sounds like a great challenge. I don’t know how many times I’ve said on my blog that I’m doughaphobic. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Hey Lea Ann, if I can have success ANYONE can! I watched a Barefood Contessa episode a while back where she makes pizza dough in like 3 minutes and makes it look super easy! I’d like to try her recipe next…

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