Pizza Night

Homemade pizza is part of our regular menu, appearing at least every couple of weeks. I know most people don’t think of making homemade pizza, but it is easier than you think. And you can make it exactly how you like it, and be positive that you know exactly what is going into it.

Pizza when I was growing up was usually homemade. Our recipe came from the pizza my dad’s family made when he was growing up, inviting friends over and making a big party of it. Sounds like the idyllic 50’s, but you can do it, too.

I don’t claim to have any Italian background, or have any sort of ties to “authentic” pizza. Dad’s family is Irish American, via Mississippi, Arkansas and southeastern Missouri. And I have changed the recipe to be almost 100% whole wheat (though you can make it with white flour) and about as easy as possible to make. My pizza doesn’t taste like my mom’s, which doesn’t taste like what my dad’s family made when he was growing up. And yours won’t taste like mine. It will be yours. And that’s the way it should be.

I have been tinkering with this recipe for at least 15 years. I have now come up with a no-knead crust that you can make anywhere from an hour to 18-24 hours before you make dinner. You can mix up the dough the night before, or in the morning before work, store it in the fridge and be ready to make pizza in about the same time you can bake a frozen pizza or place an order for delivery. Or, if you are going to be home, you can stir it up after lunch, and let it rise on the counter until it’s time to make dinner. You will probably need to stir it down at least once, unless you have a huge bowl, if you are leaving it on the counter. The longer you let it rise, the more time it has to develop a more complex flavor, but a couple of hours is certainly sufficient.

Don’t be turned off by the length of the recipe. I tried to include lots of directions and pictures so you will feel comfortable trying this, even if you have never made yeast dough before. Be sure to post in the comments and let me know how it worked for you.

Homemade Pizza

If you don’t have round pizza pans, you can certainly use rectangular baking sheets. Growing up, my mom didn’t get round pizza pans until I was in my teens. To me, homemade pizza always came in square slices. She also used Kraft parmesan cheese, in the green can. Now I usually use freshly grated Parmesan, but every so often a sprinkle of the canned powdered cheese brings back a taste of childhood. I like to make my own sauce so I can control the salt and spices, but jarred sauce works just fine.

Dough:
Makes enough dough for 2 14-inch pizzas with medium thick crusts

3 cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
½ cup all-purpose flour (unbleached preferred)
1 package yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1-1 ½ cups water, approximately

Beginning to mix dough

Put all ingredients except water in your largest bowl. Add 1 cup water and stir to combine. If there is still dry flour, add water, a couple of tablespoons at a time, until a very wet dough forms. You aren’t looking for batter here, but a dough. It will be too soft to knead and look quite wet. Once everything is well combined, beat and mix the dough with your spoon or spatula for a minute or so. Cover dough with

Mixed and ready to rest – see how it still looks pretty wet.

plastic wrap and put in the fridge or leave on the counter. If it is rising on the counter, you might need to stir the dough down every couple of hours if it is filling the bowl. Stir it a few times and re-cover. If it is in the fridge, just leave it to do its thing.

After 2 hours rising at room temperature

If your dough is in the refrigerator, remove it from the fridge and let it sit on the counter 30-60 minutes before you want to use it.

Pizza:
Sauce:
1-2 cups crushed tomatoes, low-sodium or no salt added, if possible
1-4 cloves garlic, diced
1-2 teaspoons brown sugar, packed
1-2 teaspoons dried basil
½-1 teaspoon dried oregano
paprika, few dashes
cayenne, few dashes
salt
pepper

Toppings:
½-3/4 pound part skim mozzarella, grated
Pepperoni, green or red bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, black olives, etc.
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated or in a can

You can see how I worked the flour down along the sides of the bowl to make the dough easier to work with.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease your pans fairly heavily. Sprinkle the surface of your dough heavily with flour, work a rubber spatula around the edges of the dough and try to work some flour down the sides of the bowl. Divide the dough in half with a spatula and scrape half on to each pan. Sprinkle each dough portion with flour and begin to press it out with your fingertips to cover the pan. Add more flour if it sticks to

I didn't get all the way to the edge – it will be fine.

your hands. If one piece bounces back, move to the other pan and come back the first after the dough has a minute to relax. Try to get the dough to the outside edges of the pan, but you don’t have to be perfect.

Mix together the sauce ingredients or use already prepared, jarred sauce. Spoon sauce on pressed out dough, using ½-1 cup per pizza. I don’t usually measure it, but just dollop it on and then spread it gently with the back of the spoon.

Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese all over the pizzas. Add your toppings of choice. Sprinkle pizzas with the Parmesan cheese.

Pepperoni pizza ready for the oven

Place pans in oven, staggering them so they aren’t right on top of each other, if they won’t fit on one shelf. Bake for 12-15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue cooking another 10-12 minutes, until cheese is browned and bottom of crusts are lightly browned (carefully lift up the edge of one with a spatula to see). If you are baking on two shelves, switch pizzas from top to bottom when you turn the temperature down.

Remove pizzas from oven and let rest for about 5 minutes so they can firm up. Cut and serve while hot.

Download the recipe here.

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3 thoughts on “Pizza Night

  1. Sarah, looks delicious! We will definitely be trying this one. I should probably be embarrassed to admit it, but we have always used the old faithful Chef Boyardee mix! Your recipe sounds quick easy!

  2. I made pizza ONCE. It was awful. It was more like a 2 inch thick slab of bread! Even the toppings could not help in this case. So now I will try one more time with your recipe.Grandkids will be eating here Thursday. Maybe this time…….??

  3. Ria, you can do it! If you don’t have round, 14-inch pizza pans, you can use half sheet pans. The dough won’t reach all the way to the edges, but that is fine. Press it out to whatever thickness you like, remembering that it will rise a bit in the oven. If you get holes while pressing it out, just press the dough back together so the sauce won’t leak out and it will be fine. Post back and let me know how it goes, or if you have any questions. Good luck!

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