What’s not to love? A crunchy, chewy crust, loaded with cheese, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes and feta. Just writing those words sets my mouth to watering. On the other hand, maybe you prefer the Combo, loaded with spicy pepperoni, sausage, olives, and mushrooms, the Hawaiian, or the simplicity of fresh basil, garlic, tomatoes, and mozzarella—whatever your pleasure, pizza never fails to entice the soul to rapture.
We have always made pizza at home. This is not to say we don’t order in now and again, but for the most part, it is a homemade labor of love. Fresh ingredients and the freedom to be creative have given us a better pie than any a chain pizza store could produce, and that quality, taken together with our current economy, makes homemade pizza an awesome choice.
Homemade pizza is not hard. The crust is simply flour, water, oil, salt, and a little yeast—or if you’re feeling very creative, as I have been lately—sourdough. Often we will make pizza the night after having spaghetti and use the leftover sauce on our pizza. The toppings can be as simple or complex as your imagination allows. You don’t even need a red sauce if you don’t want—Italian herbs and garlic in olive oil is just as tasty. Here is a simple but wonderful recipe for pizza dough. It makes four small pies (~8 inch).
1 cup warm water
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil—can us any oil really
1-2 tsp honey or other sugar
3(+/-) cups flour
1 tsp kosher salt—less if you use table
1 package yeast (2 ½ tsp)
In a small bowl, mix the yeast and honey with ¼-cup warm water –let sit for 5 minutes. In a mixer with a dough hook, combine remaining water with the flour, salt and oil and your yeast mixture. Mix on low until the dough comes away cleanly from the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes. Place in oiled bowl and cover with a piece of plastic wrap or damp tea towel. Allow to rise for 30 minutes.
After rising, divide the dough into 4 pieces, shaping it into smooth ball like clumps. Allow to rise for another 20 minutes. Your dough is now ready to use. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven to heat.
We use ‘no-stick’ tin foil or parchment papers to prepare our pizza’s as it makes for easy cleanup. Gently stretch your dough into a circle. Add the toppings of your choice—be as creative as you like. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until crust is nicely brown and cheese is melted.
(This recipe can also be made in a bread maker. Put the ingredients in your bread maker in the order in which they appear. Use dough setting. Rise for 30 minutes, shape into balls and rise additional 20 minutes.)
One other note: Sometimes it is too hot outside to use the oven. We have used this recipe and baked the pizzas successfully on the grill. If you want to do this, my best advice is to limit the amount of toppings so they cook quickly and to use the no-stick tinfoil. You'll have a super crispy and delicious crust. Enjoy!
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