I have been making homemade pizza for the past 3-4 years. Just like any town, big or small, we have local pizza joints, but sometime along the way, I decided that generic looking pizzas were no longer what I wanted to settle for. We still have take-out pizza from time to time, but for 1/4 of the price charged for one medium pizza there, I can make two AMAZING medium-large homemade pizzas! Once i figured this out, I began to make homemade pizza for dinner about every other week to keep us from getting an expensive, mediocre pizza as a result of our love of and craving for pizza. I began to try out maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaany recipes for pizza crust, trying to find the perfect one. I finally came across this one and we have stuck with it since then. One mistake I was making, was that I assumed pizza crust like most other breads and such, was best baked at the common 350 degrees F. I was SO wrong! The reason pizza crust from a brick oven or pizza oven is so dang good, is because of the very high temp. Now, you’d never get me to bake my pizzas under 450 degrees F. Here is the delicious recipe that I have adapted as my own. I use both a pizza stone and a traditional metal pizza pan. Two quite different crust outcomes, but both are delicious and the important characteristics shine through. Make this in the morning and let it rise all day, punching it down in the bowl if it gets too high in your proofing bowl for a more strong and “yeasty” flavor. Regardless, you will need about 3 1/2 hours minimum before making your pizzas. This makes enough dough for two 12″ (thicker crust)-15″ (thinner crust) pizzas. Split the dough and a 16-oz brick of mozzarella in half, bake half each into your pizza and wrap the other half of the dough and cheese (separately) in seran wrap and put it, with about a 1/2 cup of your favorite sauce (in a snack ziplock bag) all in a gallon ziplock bag for pizza kit for a SECOND night! try to use it up within the month.
1 1/2 C. very warm (but not hot) water
1 1/2 TBSP. sugar
2 tsp. yeast
1) Pour the water into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve all the sugar into the water. Sprinkle yeast over water. Let proof (bubble and foam ect) for 15-20 minutes.
3 1/2 C. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1) Add flour and salt to yeast mix. With a good stiff rubber scraper or wooden spoon, mix everything well until a ball of dough starts to form. In order to contain a mess, I hold the bowl in my left elbow/arm, and use my right hand to knead the dough in the bowl until a nice smooth ball of dough is formed, about 5-7 minutes.
2) Grease another large bowl all over the inside GENEROUSLY with olive oil and place dough ball inside. Turn the dough in the bowl to get it coated with the olive oil. Cover with seran wrap or a clean towel, and place in a warm undisturbed place to proof/rise for 2-3 hours AT LEAST. I try to get my dough proofing by noon so it has about 5 hours to proof before I need to make dinner. We like a good yeasty flavor that needs those extra couple hours to develop.
3) When it’s time to make the pizza, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F, remove the dough from the proofing bowl, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and cut it in half. Wrap half WELL in seran wrap, then place it in a ziplock bag and put it in the freezer. Or you can make a second pizza! (*Two pizzas is too much for my family of two adults and one toddler because we like to have a garden salad with it.)
4) With the other half, sprinkle dough with flour and roll/press out to desired size. (I use a rolling-pin nowadays because it goes faster.) When “sticky spots” pop up, toss some flour over them and continue spreading the dough to the size you need. Remember to check underneath and make sure the underside of the dough isn’t sticking. If it is, just toss some flour in that spot and move on.
5) Carefull move pizza dough to well olive oiled metal pizza pan, or to a baking stone. Patch up any holes and try to make sure your dough is even throughout. Top with desired toppings and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. To know when it’s done, use a flipper to carefully check underneath the crust. When it is a nice toasty brown all the way to the center, it should be done. Remove from the oven and let it set for 7-10 minutes. Cut and Serve!
It may take making this a couple of times to really get the hang of it, but come on now, it’s pizza! Once you get the hang of it and realize how easy it is, how much CHEAPER it is, how much BETTER it tastes, and how much HEALTHIER it is, you may never go back, or only go back when you get that unmistakable craving for your favorite “pizza joint” pizza. It will happen.
Here are just a few ideas of some GREAT pizzas we have made in our home. I LOVE such versatility!
- Red pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and toppings like: Pepperoni, cooked chopped chicken, cooked crumbled sausage, cooked crumbled ground beef, cooked chopped steak, fresh sliced or chopped green peppers, fresh sliced mushrooms, fresh sliced or chopped onions, sliced black olives, small florets of steamed broccoli, sliced or chopped Roma tomatoes (make sure to only use the flesh of the tomato. Remove the seeds and pulp or you will get a soggy mess!)
- BBQ Chicken or Pork- spread your favorite BBQ sauce over the crust, top with either mozzarella or a mix of cheddar and Monterey Jack, then scatter pieces of cooked pulled or cubed chicken, cooked pulled or cubed pork (I have used leftover pulled BBQ pork for this with GREAT results!) thinly sliced or chopped red (or white) onions, and sliced or chopped green peppers. Serve with Some delicious cole slaw on the side!
- Cheesburger Pizza- Spread ketchup over crust as sauce, sprinkle with either shredded mozzarella, shredded Monterey Jack or shredded American cheese. Scatter cooked ground beef, diced Roma tomatoes, chopped or thinly sliced fresh onions. Strain dill relish in a mesh strainer and sprinkle over cooked pizza. Drizzle ketchup and/or mustard over cooked pizza for a freshend-up taste!
- Margarita Pizza- Drizzle crust with olive oil, mince fresh garlic and spread over olive oil. Spread shredded mozzarella over and top with diced or sliced de-seeded and de-pulped tomatoes. Bake then sprinkle with fresh chopped basil.
- Garlic Pizza- make Margarita Pizza but don’t add tomatoes or chopped basil.
- Pesto Pizza- Spread pesto liberally over crust, then top with shredded mozzarella.
I hope you are able to try this at least once, and I hope you are hooked after that. Enjoy and let me know about your pizza-from-scratch making adventure!
Peace and Tasty Homemade Pizzas in Your Home,