from: Tori Cimack, Sonesta ES Suites Chicago-Schaumburg


Common Tools:

• Strainer • Cutting board • Knife • Oven • Bowls • Common Sense

“Uncommon” Tools:

• 10 in cast iron pan (highly recommend you use a cast iron pan). If you do not have a cast iron, make sure the pan you are using is oven safe (the material of the handle is what typically makes a pan oven safe/unsafe). • Cooling rack • Thermometer Helps • Cheese Grater Helps • Goggles (LOL)


Dough Ingredients:

• ¼ teaspoon instant dry yeast • 1 teaspoon white sugar • ½ cup water (warm, shoot for about 95 degrees F) • About 1 to 1½ cup all purpose, unbleached flour • ½ teaspoon salt • Little bit of olive oil • 3 cups patience

On Pan:

• Cornmeal • Olive oil • Salt • Pepper • Oregano

For sauce:

• Italian Seasoning • Oregano (yes, I know Italian seasoning has oregano, I just love oregano) • Olive oil • Additional salt and pepper • 1/3 cup canned crushed tomatoes (buy a 14 oz can) • Additional sugar

On Top:

• Grated parmesan • 4 ounces whole milk, low moisture mozzarella, grated and kept old • Whatever toppings you want! I love a single small yellow onion on my pizzas. Might be good to limit yourself to smaller amounts of toppings. More toppings mean more moisture means cooking on top happens slower means stuff on bottom gets more cooking means burning on bottom or underdone top!



  1. Mix by hand a little more than 1 cup flour and the water together until just incorporated. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle on top the sugar, yeast, and salt and mix by hand. The dough will be VERY sticky here. If no coherent dough ball forms after about 3 minutes of mixing, add more flour. You should not surpass the 1 ½ cups flour limit. If you do, you have added too much flour. It is okay to have less than the full amount of flour—in fact, the closer you are to 1 cup flour, the better (in my opinion).
  3. Continue mixing until you can hold the dough in a ball. Transfer the dough to a countertop (add a little flour to the countertop if you anticipate it sticking) and knead the dough. There are many techniques to kneading, google one and get good at it! There’s no “best” way to knead in my opinion—just play around with it and have fun!
  4. After about 4 minutes of kneading, attempt to “window” the dough. Stretch it thin and hold it up between your face and a light. If you are able to stretch it so that the light can make it through the dough without the dough tearing, you have successfully kneaded the dough! If the dough tears, get back to kneading! Try as many times as you need to before moving on.
  5. Shape the dough into a rough ball. Add a tiny bit of olive oil to a bowl. I suggest finding a glass bowl with a lid. If you don’t have one, any bowl with some saran wrap will work! J Put the dough in the bowl and swish it around. The purpose of this olive oil is to keep the dough from sticking—only a tiny bit is needed, don’t waste your olive oil here!
  6. Cover the bowl and let the dough sit (COVERED!) for about 2 to 3 hours, or until it has more than doubled in size. I put my dough in my utility closet which gets pretty warm (75-80 degrees F). Try and keep the bowl up high, as it is typically warmer there (warm air is less dense than cold air, so it rises up against the ceiling!). This is called “rising” or, in general, this entire phase is the “bulk fermentation” process in baking with yeast.
  7. Once the dough has double/tripled in size, you are ready for the next steps!

Pan Prep and Proofing:

  1. To a 10 in pan (preferably a cast iron pan—BELIEVE ME), add a glug of olive oil, a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, a pinch of oregano, and a pinch of cornmeal. a. Why cornmeal? When the pizza is done, the cornmeal will act as “ball bearings” allowing the pizza to slide off with the assistance of the olive oil!
  2. With your fingers, spread what you’ve added to the pan around the base and up the sides. DON’T WASH YOUR HANDS YET!
  3. Grab your dough and, while holding it, spread it apart with your hands. The dough should be SUPER fluffy and soft. After you have spread it out a little, add it to the pan. Continue spreading out the dough until it stays touching the edge and doesn’t scrunch up to the middle. Now you can wash your hands.
  4. Let the dough sit for 45 minutes longer. This is called “proofing.” It acts as one final step of bulk fermentation for the dough.
  5. After about 35 minutes have passed, turn on your oven and set it to 480 degrees F and let it preheat during the next steps.

Pizza time:

  1. Time to sauce: a. Pour the can of crushed tomatoes into a strainer and let it partially strain. Add the contents into a bowl for mixing. You will NOT be heating up these tomatoes, so don’t get a saucepan out for them. This is a bit uncommon—most recipes call to heat or simmer your sauce. You are welcome to put a different sauce recipe on the pizza; this is just what I like! b. Add a glug of olive oil, and a pinch of the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix. I have always eyeballed this mixture, just don’t accidentally dump a cup of sugar into the tomatoes. It won’t be good, trust me. c. Spread the sauce onto the dough in the pan. I think crust is overrated, so I spread my sauce all the way to the edge of the pan.
  2. Prepare your toppings, grate your mozzarella (I sliced my mozzarella for a long time. You don’t need a cheese grater, it just makes this process a bit easier), and set aside the parmesan. Keep the cheeses cold!
  3. Turn on the stovetop to medium-high (you should only have dough and sauce in your pan at the moment). Make sure your oven will finish pre-heating in a couple minutes.
  4. Let the bottom of your pan heat up. a. IF YOU ARE USING A CAST IRON PAN: cook from anywhere between 5-10 minutes. I have messed around with this time quite a bit. This determines how crispy the bottom of your pizza will be. The cast iron allows for a bit more error here, so play around with how long you keep it on the stovetop! Move onto step 5. b. IF YOU ARE NOT USING A CAST IRON PAN: you might have issues with burning on the bottom of your pizza. I did not use a cast iron for a while, and I found the window for error to be tiny. Keep it on the heat for about 5ish minutes. If you smell burning take it off the heat immediately. Move onto step 5.
  5. Add the parmesan cheese, then the mozzarella, then your toppings. Again, I like to spread my toppings to the edge of the pan.
  6. IMMEDIATELY, move your pan to the oven on the topmost rack. I have played around placing the pan under my oven’s broiler to some success.
  7. Wait until you begin seeing orange spots on the cheese, or nice crispy marks on your toppings. I typically have mine in the oven from anywhere between 6 to 12 minutes (?). I seldom look at the clock when I am at this step. I find it better to look for the visual signals that the pizza gives telling you it’s done, rather than sticking to a time. Again, play around with leaving it in a bit longer or shorter than makes your comfortable! Figure out what it does to the pizza and keep mental (or physical!) notes for next time.
  8. Take the pan out of the oven and place it onto your stovetop. Prepare a cooling rack.
  9. After about a minute on the stove, use tongs to separate the pizza’s edges from the sides of the pan. Wiggle it out and onto the cooling rack. If you lose a bit of cheese along the way, congratulations, you have been given a little snack for while you wait!
  10. Wait for about as long as the pizza was in the oven. Go ahead and slice into whatever portions you want. I enjoy cutting my pizza into sevenths because I like living on the edge.
  11. Enjoy! :)