I have a love/hate relationship with pizza. I love that it is a blank canvas for an array of toppings, but hate that most pizza parlours are so skimpy on the toppings. AND speaking of toppings, I also hate that any decent place seems to charge an arm and a leg if you want multiple “premium” toppings. What’s with that?!?! Not impressed, if you can’t tell already. I should be able to have feta AND spinach AND roasted red peppers AND chicken on my pizza without paying more than the standard pepperoni & cheese customers, thank you very much. And, speaking of delivery, is it just me or does anyone else find that these days it can take up to an hour for your order to arrive? Not into that. Don’t even get me started on the so-called cardboard discs pizzas that line the frozen foods aisle of the grocery store…
I’ll stop my rant now, I promise.
As a child I was spoiled with homemade pizza to the point where I thought it was more normal to make your own instead of ordering it in or popping a frozen one in the oven. This probably is to blame for my blatant dislike of many restaurants and preference to cook myself, now that I think about it. More often than not, homemade is better and pizza is no exception. My Mom would often make the pizza dough early in the afternoon in her trusty Kitchen Aid and by dinner time it was ready to be personalized. It was always fun to do, especially when our friends our cousins came over to join us in the mayhem. Making my own pizza is a tradition that I’ve carried on, and one you should start if you haven’t already. The dough takes under 10 minutes from start to finish (including kneading time) and it’s really easy to work with.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Yeast, water, olive oil, flour (some combination of bread flour, all-purpose, and/or whole wheat), and salt.
Sprinkle 2 1/4 tsp of instant or rapid-rise yeast over warm water. Be careful that the water isn’t too hot or you’ll kill the yeast – I did that when I was making rolls for Christmas dinner, and the results weren’t pretty. That was pre-blog, but you’ll have to trust me.
If, after 5 minutes or so, the mixture doesn’t look like this…
…then you have a problem. With your yeast, that is. I’ll refrain from commenting any more than that.
No, but seriously, if your yeast doesn’t “bloom” then it’s probably old and you need to either (a) get more yeast, (b) call for delivery (please don’t), or (c) change your dinner plans.
While the yeast is doing its thing, measure out 4 c (or 22 oz, for you purists out there) of flour and 1 1/2 tsp salt into the bowl of your standing mixer:
Let’s talk about flour for a minute. I like to use a combination of white and whole-wheat for my dough, but typically won’t use more than 1/2 whole wheat. If I have bread flour I also like to use it more than just my standard all-purpose, as it tends to make the crust crispier.
Back to the yeast. Add 1 1/4 c room temperature water and 2 TBSP of olive oil to the yeast.
Give it a stir, and add it to the flour and salt.
Put your dough hook on the mixer, and mix on a low setting until everything gets incorporated. Unless, of course, you enjoy cleaning up flour storms in your kitchen. To each their own, I suppose.
Once it’s starting to resemble a cohesive mass of dough, increase the speed to medium and let the mixer do the kneading for you.
Five minutes later, you’ll have dough!
I know what some of you are thinking – if you don’t have a standing mixer you can also use your food processor or your biceps (gasp!). I’ve done both with equally good results, so no excuses! If I can do it, so can you.
Put the dough in an oiled bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap.
We’re going to need to let the dough rise until it’s doubled in size…this should take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. Sometimes I speed up the process by sticking the dough in my oven at the proofing setting.
While the dough is rising, let’s get some toppings ready. As I was saying before, pizza dough is merely a blank canvas. You can put whatever you like on it – from the ordinary to the obscure. Don’t be shy! Try some new combinations…instead of pizza sauce, why not try fig preserves, or pesto, or bruschetta? Instead of mozzarella, why not asiago, or feta, or brie, or chevre? Instead of pepperoni, why not proscuitto , or chicken, or tofu (just kidding)? The list is truly endless, my friends. You are only limited by your imagination!
Yes, I have a big imagination, and I know you’re jealous.
How’s that dough looking, you ask?
Now THAT’s what I’m talking about!
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and divide it into at least 3 pieces.
Cover the dough with a teatowel and let it rest for up to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Are you hungry yet? I know I am so let’s finish what we started!
Either roll out or stretch the dough by hand until its a thickness that you can live with. I would like to tell you that I threw the dough above my head while singing Italian opera, but pictures don’t lie.
I like to do what my Italian grandmother taught me, and sprinkle a little cornmeal down before I roll out the dough.
Ok – so much for not lying – I don’t have an Italian grandmother. If you’re an Italian grandmother and you’re reading this, would you like to adopt me and teach me your ways in the kitchen?
Back to the pizza. Go wild! With toppings, that is. I take no responsibility for anything else.
And after 8-9 minutes in the oven, here’s what you can expect to greet you:
Up close and personal:
Ooh baby – now THAT’S what I’m talking about! This sure isn’t 2-for-1, and I can’t say I’m sorry about that. Next time you feel like pizza, please try making your own instead of ordering out. You’ll be converted in no time!
P.S. If you’d like to purchase a pizza stone and donate it to my cause, I’d be most grateful…