Homemade Pizza

{UPDATE: Here is a whole new series dedicated to perfecting homemade pizza with updated recipes and a lot of step-by-step tutorials on baking, so you may want to check that out first!}

I’ve posted about pizza before, but since it makes a frequent appearance in our home (i.e. most every Saturday night except when I am lazy and grilled cheese pops up on the menu), a few things have changed and I want to share them with you.

Namely, I have a new favorite pizza dough recipe I’ve slightly adapted from here and oh, it is incredible. Chewy and flavorful, it is definitely my new go-to pizza dough recipe that I’ve been using for a few months now.

It takes a minor amount of forethought and planning, since the dough benefits from being made the night before or in the early morning but it is well worth it. I still use the Fast and Easy recipe if I haven’t planned ahead, but this other recipe is really superb.

Thanks to the whole wheat flour in the dough, it gives the crust a great depth and texture that is unparalleled after being baked to perfection. Here is my favorite pizza sauce recipe.

Also, over the last year, I’ve gathered a few other tips and tricks that I thought I’d share with you (including revamping the pizza sauce a bit). I’ve included them below with the recipe.

A few I’ll mention here:
1)I always use freshly grated mozzarella cheese for topping our pizzas. I’ve harped on this before but since I’m, like, half-scientist, I can assure you that freshly grated mozzarella melts a lot better than preshredded. My husband happens to work for a cheese company and agrees with me (let’s forget the fact that he has a boring desk job and isn’t actually making the cheese – details, details). But you really can trust me on this – do a side-by-side comparison and I promise you’ll be converted to the idea. And then you can officially be classified as half-scientist, too.

2) Also, although we keep our pizza toppings simple (usually just cheese and turkey pepperoni), I’ve found a quick way to elevate the pizza to a delicious new level – sprinkling freshly grated parmesan cheese over all of the toppings right before baking. The slightly salty, flavorful hit of the parmesan cheese is fantastic.

Homemade pizza is one of the most satisfying things I make for my family. It tastes a hundred times better than restaurant-bought and my kids can get their grubby little hands right in there and help. And grubby or not, I love their help.

Cut up carrots and cucumbers with Homemade Ranch
Fresh Fruit
Cinnamon and Sugar Breadstick Twists

One Year Ago: Pesto Pizza with Pine Nuts and Feta
Two Years Ago: Red Berry Risotto Oatmeal

Homemade Pizza – New and Improved

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Directions:

  1. Make the dough the night before or early the morning on the day you want to make the pizza. In a large mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), mix the water, yeast, sugar, honey and oil. (If using active dry yeast, increase the amount of yeast to 2 3/4 teaspoons and proof the yeast in the water until foamy before mixing in the sugar, honey and oil.) Then mix in 1 cup flour and the salt. Continue mixing in all the remaining flour until you get a nice, soft dough. Knead until dough is soft and smooth, about 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes with a stand mixer.
  2. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl and cover tightly (with a lid or plastic wrap). Place the dough in the refrigerator to slowly rise until three hours before baking. Three hours before baking, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, keeping it lightly covered.
  3. 45-60 minutes before baking, move the rack to the lowest position in the oven (if the lowest rack in your oven is nearly touching the oven floor, move it up one notch – you don’t want it that close or the bottom of the pizza will burn), place the pizza stone on it and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Don’t be nervous about a hot oven! I used to be scared to death to cook anything above 400 degrees but I promise 500 degrees is the only way to go when cooking pizza. If your oven is a bit sketchy at that temperature, bake at 475 degrees.

Notes:

I think a pizza stone makes all the difference in good versus great pizza. I have this pizza stone and I love the rectangular shape. I have baked many a pizza on this stone and it is awesome.

Here’s a few different methods for making great pizza:

Pizza Paddle/Peel: I have a wooden pizza paddle, like this, which I sprinkle with cornmeal and place the pizza dough on. I layer my toppings on the dough and slide the dough quickly onto the hot pizza stone. After about 8 or 9 minutes, the pizza is baked to perfection and I slide it onto a cutting board to slice and eat.

Alternative Pizza Paddle/Peel: If you don’t have a pizza paddle, you can use the underside of a baking sheet (I use an 11X17 size) or a large cutting board as a makeshift pizza paddle. Cover it lightly with cornmeal, flour or parchment paper, make your pizza on the floured baking sheet or cutting board and gently slide the pizza off of the makeshift paddle onto the baking stone when ready to bake (if using parchment paper, you can let the parchment paper slide onto the baking stone with the pizza). Bake for 8-9 minutes until the crust is nicely browned. Retrieve the pizza with a pair of tongs or a spatula and slide the baked pizza quickly onto a waiting cooling rack.

Rimmed Baking Sheet: If you currently bake pizzas using cornmeal on a pizza paddle, you’ll know how messy it can be – cornmeal everywhere. In fact, right now, my oven is in serious need of a good vacuuming. So, ofttimes, I’ll still preheat my baking stone like normal and instead of using my wooden pizza paddle, I stretch the dough into an irregular shape on a lightly greased rimmed baking sheet (I don’t worry about pressing it into the corners to give it a rustic look), add the toppings, and slide the entire baking sheet on the pizza stone to bake. Bake the pizza for 9-10 minutes until the crust is nicely browned. This method still browns the crust nicely – and while you don’t get the extremely authentic pizza crust, it is still mighty delicious and I can make more pizza at once rather than sliding them one at a time onto the baking stone.

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Pizza Dough Recipe Source:  adapted slightly from Emily at Savory Seasonings