Recipe reprinted with permission from Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One by Joe Yonan (2011 Ten Speed Press)
Yield: five 8-inch pizza crusts
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 olive oil
Combine flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add water and stir until blended. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 8 to 12 hours at room temperature (about 70 degrees).
After 8 hours, it will have risen and will be bubbly on the surface. The timing is very forgiving here; you can let it continue bubbling and (very slowly) expanding for several more hours if you like. Transfer dough to the refrigerator for about 1 hour before dividing so it’s easier to work with.
Lightly rub your hands and work counter with olive oil. Turn out dough onto the counter in 1 piece. Lightly dust with flour and fold dough on itself a few times, adding more flour if needed, until it comes together and holds its shape when you gather it into a ball. Cut into 5 equal pieces, about 6 ounces apiece.
Refrigerate or freeze what you’re not going to use right away. Transfer balls to individual freezer-safe plastic food storage bags, drizzle with olive oil, and turn dough to coat in oil. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Sprinkle piece(s) you are going to use immediately with flour and transfer to a lightly floured baking sheet. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 hour.
Proceed with pizza recipe of choice. If dough has been refrigerated, transfer it to the countertop to let it rise for about 1 hour before making pizza. If you have frozen it, defrost in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours; transfer it to the counter to rise for 1 hour. The dough should be pliable and able to be easily stretched into shape.
Preheat broiler with the rack set 5 inches from the element or flame. If you are using a cast-iron skillet or griddle pan for the pizza, set it over medium-high heat until it gets smoking hot, about 15 minutes. Transfer skillet (turned upside down) or griddle pan to the broiler. If you are using a baking stone, heat it in a 500-degree oven for 1 hour, then carefully transfer it to the broiler.
To shape dough, dust a work surface liberally with flour and put the ball of dough on it. Sprinkle with flour and knead a few times until the dough comes together and holds its shape when you form it into a ball. Add more flour if necessary. Form it into an 8-inch round by pressing from the center out toward the edges, leaving a 1-inch border thicker than the rest.
Make sure you have all the topping ingredients measured out and ready before you assemble the pizza, because once you place the dough on the cooking surface you can’t easily move it. Open the oven or broiler door, and quickly slide out the rack with the cooking surface (skillet, griddle pan or baking stone) on it. Pick up the dough and quickly transfer it to the cooking surface, pressing it back into shape if need be, while being careful not to touch the cooking surface with your fingers.
Top according to recipe of choice, leaving a 1-inch margin. Broil pizza for 3 to 5 minutes, until crust has puffed up around the edges and blackened in spots. Remove pizza with a wooden or metal peel or a square of cardboard, transfer it to a cutting board, and let it rest for a few minutes before cutting or eating.