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Homemade Pizza {Recipe}

tossing pizza doughHomemade pizza sometimes begins with the suggestion from Alex that we order in. I remind him that we always regret the greasy crusts. Other times, we have an abundance of vegetable odds and ends in the fridge and pizza sounds like a good way to use them up.

Or we want a fun meal to make with friends or family. One of our recent pizza parties including dough tossing by Alex's brother Ben, a pizza maker at Whole Foods.

Whatever the reason, when pizza making time comes, we have our routine down to a science.

A pizza stone is a must. Careful direction to kids and newbies during the 'decorating' phase is necessary, as too much sauce is a surefire beginning of an unpleasant soggy crust. We use a wooden paddle to shimmy the dough into the oven but a large thin cutting board dusted with cornmeal works fairly well.

Finally, and this is the hardest, the oven door must stay shut during cooking.  The perfect pizza is cooked at consistently high temperature and every opening loses massive amounts of heat.

We can cook only one or two pizzas at a time in our single oven. We start with Lil's pizza (cheese, basil, and capers) and then make one to please the adults in the crowd. After each comes out and rests, we serve slices family-dinner style on a big cutting board in the middle of the table. The oven stays on as other guests make their individual pizzas, sharing pieces as they are ready.

Delivery just can't compete!

home pizza cooking with paddle and stone

Pizza Crust Recipe for 4 10-inch pizzas

1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast 1 cup warm water 3 cups all purpose flour, or a mix of bread flour and whole wheat flour 4 tablespoons olive oil 2 1/2 teaspoons salt

  1. Dissolve yeast in water in a medium bowl.
  2. Stir in flour, olive oil, and salt.
  3. Mix until well combined, at least 20 strokes. Add more flour if necessary until dough does not stick.
  4. Cover with saran wrap or a towel and let rise for 30-60 minutes, until double in bulk.
  5. If making pizzas immediately, follow assembly steps below. Dough can be portioned and frozen in individually wrapped pieces at this point. To use after freezing, allow to thaw completely and rise a little more before shaping and topping. Allow 3-4 hours at room temperature or allow to thaw in the fridge overnight.

Quick Pantry Pizza Sauce makes approximately 3 cups, enough for 6-8 pizzas

1 tablespoon olive oil ½ medium onion, diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes 2 6 ounce cans tomato paste 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried) 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried) ½ teaspoon salt, to taste ½ teaspoon black pepper, to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add onions and garlic and cook on medium low heat until onions are translucent, about five minutes. 2. Add remaining ingredients. Cook until sauce is thick and herbs are wilted, about 15 minutes. 3. Use on pizza. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for one week or in the freezer in an air tight container for up to 6 months.

Assemblyhomemade cheese pizza

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Heat baking stone in oven if you have it. 2. Punch down dough and divide into four equal pieces. 3. Form a ball with one piece. Press it into a small round. Gently thin the center by holding it perpendicular to the ground and pressing with your thumbs together while turning the dough like a steering wheel. Continue to stretch into a bigger round by moving your thumbs out from the center. 4. Place the dough on a paddle, thin cutting board, or the back of a cookie sheet dusted in cornmeal. Do not press the dough onto the surface. 5. Spoon no more than ¼ cup tomato or pesto sauce onto the dough. Spread the sauce with the back of a spoon evenly across the dough. 6. Top with toppings. If toppings are too thick, the bottom of the dough will burn before the top is thoroughly cooked. Try to keep them evenly spread and not too thick. 6. Slide pizza from the cornmeal covered surface by wiggling it gently onto the baking stone in the oven. 7. Close the door and leave it shut for 7 minutes. Check to see if cheese is melted as desired. Try to minimize door openings to keep oven hot. 8. When pizza is done, remove from oven and allow to cool 3-5 minutes before cutting. Keep stone in oven to keep cooking more pizzas!

One final suggestion: If you have leftover dough but not enough to freeze, try topping a final pie with thinly sliced apple, a dusting of cinnamon and bit of shredded cheddar cheese. If you can resist it as dessert, it is the perfect breakfast pizza, warm or straight from the fridge.

How do you 'za?

 

Added to Hearth and Soul