Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Homemade Pizza

I love pizza. But then again, who doesn't love pizza? I know there will be some deranged person out there who probably doesn't love pizza. If you don't love pizza, you must have some serious taste bud issues. Maybe hypogeusia or dysgeusia? I say, see a doctor.

As far back as I can remember, pizza has always been a treat. As a kid my favorite was kind was Canadian Bacon and Pineapple. There is just something delicious about the combination of sweet, salty, spicy and cheesy. It blends the best of all worlds into one tasty pizza!

When my husband and I were first married, we regularly had pizza delivered. It was quick, easy and, well, delicious. In a pinch, a frozen pizza curbed the craving. As we plunged into the uncharted waters of "single income family with kids", we cut back on our expenses. Sadly, eating out (which included delivery in) was almost completely eliminated.

Why not just stick with frozen pizzas at this point, you say? At first glance, that seems like a simple solution. The problem is that in my first pregnancy I had some cravings (Mexican food with all the fixings) and only a few aversions. The primary culprit: frozen pizza. There was just something about the smell of frozen pizza cooking that completely turned my stomach. I don't know what "they" put in frozen pizza, but I still have some residual aversion to this day. (I hear you, maybe I am the one who should be seeing a doctor.)

Around this time I also began to explore the possibility of making pizza at home. I started out using Trader Joe's Pizza Dough. I stored it in my freezer and defrosted it when the pizza urge hit. Next I found pizza dough at the San Francisco Street Bakery. Sometimes, though, their dough was sold mostly frozen and took too long to defrost for dinner. Soon I realized that it probably wouldn't take much longer than the defrost time to actually make the dough myself.

After trying out several pizza dough recipes, I finally settled on the one in my Betty Crocker's Cookbook. One thing I really like about this recipe is that the dough only needs to rest/rise for 30 minutes! It is still kind of time consuming, but totally worth the effort.

Homemade Pizza

Mix 1 cup of flour (I used fresh ground hard white wheat), 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast (or 1 package) in a large bowl. I prefer that my large bowl be connected to my Kitchenaid mixer. Add 3 tablespoons oil and 1 cup very warm water. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Or do like I do and beat it on medium speed for what seems like a reasonable amount of time. This method has worked for me so far.

Stir in enough remaining flour until the dough is soft and leaves the sides of the bowl. I never really measure, but the recipe call for 1 1/2 to 2 cups more.

This looked like the dough was sufficiently leaving the sides of the bowl, so this is where I stopped.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead 5 to 8 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy.

I like to use my kitchen table to knead. The height just works better for me. (I know, I am just asking for short jokes right about now.) Seriously, it is much easier and a lot less work to knead on the lower surface.

Cover the beautiful dough ball loosely with plastic wrap. I like to put my dough in a bowl greased with olive oil.

I may have gotten a little carried away with the olive oil this time. It looked like my dough was practically floating in the olive oil. I just figure, olive oil is good for you, right? It adds great flavor, right? And you know what else? My dough didn't stick to my bowl.

Set your timer for 30 minutes. While the dough is resting and rising, start the pizza sauce. Chop up some onion. I think I used a whole medium sized onion. In my opinion, it is hard to use too much onion. (Want to chop without crying? Check out this post.) Start that sauteing in some olive oil. Add in a generous amount of fresh garlic. I just had to show you this single huge clove from my garden. Amazing, isn't it?

After the onion and garlic is sauteed to soft perfection, add in a can of tomato sauce. For those of you who want specifics, this can was 15 oz. Stir in the tomato sauce.

Dump in your spices. I say dump because that is what I really do. I never measure spices. Never.

In the bottom right of the picture is my dumping of basil. The other large pile is a dumping of oregano. Bottom left is a small pile of crushed red chili peppers, which add a slight spiciness and make it truly taste like pizza sauce. Near the top is some fresh ground black pepper. I know it would have been twice as delicious if I would have used fresh spices, but I don't always have them on hand.

Stir the sauce. Let this concoction of yumminess simmer. The longer it simmers the more delicious it will be.

When the timer (which you set for 30 minutes) beeps, preheat the oven to 425°.
Grab your bowl o' dough and smile, enjoying how much the dough has risen in just 30 minutes.

Dump the dough onto your 15" pizza stone. I use my rolling pin and roll my pizza out the size of the pizza stone. Honestly, I am too scared of dropping the pizza dough to attempt throwing it. This makes a semi-thick crust pizza. (The recipe actually says to use it for 2 - 12" pizzas.)

Pop the pizza dough into the preheated oven. Partially bake for 7-8 minutes or until crust just begins to brown.

While the crust is baking, assemble your toppings. We enjoy many different toppings, but this time I went super simple. I just used pepperoni.

Applegate Farms makes my current favorite pepperoni. I love that it doesn't have any bad stuff (nitrates, nitrites, hormones, MSG, etc.) And it tastes delicious!!!

These pepperonis are very large, so I cut them into quarters.

Grate a nice big pile of cheese. Or ask your husband to grate it for you, like I did. Didn't he do a great job?

My favorite combination of cheeses is Mozzarella, Cheddar and Parmesan. There is just something about adding the Parmesan that makes the pizza so yummy.

Grab your partially cooked pizza crust from the oven. I like to set mine on a silicone trivet. It protects the counter and keeps the pizza stone from sliding.

Pull your pot of finished pizza sauce from the stove. (If you want pre-made pizza sauce, Trader Joe's makes some great sauce.)

Slather your crust with this sauce. This is either enough sauce for a very generous saucing on this pizza or enough to use half now and freeze the other half for when the next homemade pizza craving hits.

Add a sprinkling of cheese, a thick layer of pepperoni (or your toppings of choice) and a final nice thick layer of cheese.

Bake your pizza for another 10 or so minutes, or until the cheese is melted and sufficiently bubbly.

Now for the best part: eat. I enjoy watching my kids devour their dinner, making plenty of satisfied gulping and lip smacking noises. Yes, that is the real reason why I love making homemade pizza.


  1. Making pizza from scratch is SO delicious! I use a very similar recipe (if not identical) for dough. It works out well to let it rise while preparing the other ingredients.

    Thanks for providing inspiration.

  2. You know how many times we've had pizza delivered? ONCE! And even that one time I felt guilty knowing we could have saved money going to pick it up ourselves. Yup, we are truly frugal. :) In fact, we only go and pick up a pizza a couple times a year, usually for a special occasion. We do have frozen a few times a month though. Do ALL brands of frozen pizzas turn you off? I think they all taste and smell so different! I have made my own pizza several times, but neither of the crust recipes I've tried taste near as good as Pizza Hut, Papa John's or Papa Murphy's (my three favorites). And NO homemade pizzas I've ever eaten have ever tasted as good either. BUT I'm willing to try one more recipe...when I can get off this dairy-free diet. Pizza without cheese is just a no-no in my opinion. :o)

  3. That looks SO good! We are awful about ordering pizza, it's almost a once a week event at our house (I sadly admit)! I tried to make it once and it was gross... you've inspired me to try again!

  4. You can do it! You can make pizza! It does take a little extra time, but when you consider how long it takes to have the pizza delivered, it really isn't that much longer. Let me know how it goes!

  5. I've been dreaming about this pizza... I still haven't made it but plan to this week!

  6. Ok, I know I'm the only one who is STILL commenting on this post.. LOL!
    I made the TJ pizza and now I've printed your recipe for dough. I'm going to make it for dinner tomorrow. It makes sense to bake the dough FIRST on the pizza stone! DOH!

  7. Yay! I can't wait to hear how it turns out!!!

  8. OK seriously Tanya, I made the dough and Tom calls me (I took a long nap) and said he bought a pizza for dinner! He feels bad and said he thought I was still sleeping and tired (from being preggers) and wanted to help out for dinner.... sigh... I wonder if I can freeze this dough? It's not cooked yet... still rising! I've frozen bread dough many times before but usually not after it has risen.

  9. I would just freeze it or refrigerate it. The other thing you could do is cook it and then freeze the cooked crust. Then it is ready for when you want to make a pizza fast. I have done that before and it worked great!

  10. What are the type of cheese you have used?