Pizza. Oh that word conjures up images of hot, heavenly slices. Melting cheeses. Fresh ingredients. Fabulous crust. Does any other food have the mystic quality that can bring everyone to the table?
But before you hit the speed dial for delivery, take heart. You can make great tasting pizza at home. With a little planning ahead and prepping of ingredients, you can be serving crave-worthy pizza to your family.
The basis of any great pizza is the crust. While ready made crusts exit in the grocery stores, opt for making it fresh at home. And as a helpful hint, I tend to make a double recipe so I have plenty of dough that I can freeze for later.
One of my favorite pizza crust recipes is from the magazine Pizza on the Grill: 75 Fire-Roasted Recipes for Pizza and More from the publishers of Fine Cooking.
Homemade Pizza Dough
- 1 C. lukewarm water (plus little extra)
- 1/4 C. olive oil (plus a little extra)
- 1 tsp. sugar or honey
- 1 pkg. active dry yeast
- 3 C. unbleached flour (plus a little extra)
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Place the water, olive oil, and sugar in a container. ( NOTE: lukewarm is typically between 85F and 100F. Be sure that the temperature is not too high or you run the risk of killing the yeast when it is added.) Sprinkle the yeast across the top of the liquid mixture. It should ‘bloom’ and look foamy. This process will take about 5 minutes.
While the yeast is blooming, combine the flour and salt in a separate container. Next, add the water/yeast mixture to it 1/2 C. at a time. Stir until the wet ingredients are well incorporated into the dry ingredients.
If the resulting dough feels stiff, add a little bit of water (1/2 – 1 tsp.) If the dough is sticky, sprinkle a little extra flour across the top (starting with 1 tbsp.) Weather and the time of year can effect the dough. For example: during the summer, it tends to be a little sticky due to the humidity. Just make the adjustments and your final dough will be fine.
Continue to mix the dough until it begins to feel elastic. Sprinkle a little flour on work surface such as a large cutting board, pastry cloth, or kitchen counter. Place the dough on the flour and knead for at least 1 – 2 minutes. The dough should feel smooth and elastic.
Place a little olive oil in the bottom of a large bowl. Add the ball of dough and roll it around in the bowl to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and place in a warm location. (During the winter, I place the bowl on the hearth of our fireplace and that works quite well.) Allow the dough to rise until double in size. This may take 1 – 2 hours.
After the dough has risen. Place it on a floured surface and knead for 1 – 2 minutes. Divide the dough into 2, equal sized balls.
The rest of the pizza making process is based on my equipment and preferences and no longer refers to the magazine.
Roll out 1 ball of dough to approximately 12″. Sprinkle corn meal on a pizza pan or pizza stone. (The corn meal helps ensure that the pizza dough does not stick to the pan or stone.) Place the wheel of dough on the pan or stone. Dock the dough with a fork. Now drizzle 1 1/2 tsp. of olive oil across the dough. Place the pizza dough in an oven pre-heated to 425F. Bake the pizza crust for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven. (By pre-baking the crust, you are helping to ensure a crisp crust.)
Mushroom Pizza Topping
- 3 oz. button mushrooms, chopped
- 3 oz. cremini mushrooms, chopped
- 3 oz. shitake mushrooms, chopped
- 1/3 C. yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 2 tblsp. olive oil, plus 1 1/2 tsp.
- 1/2 C. mozzarella, shredded
- 1/3 C. Parmesan, shredded
- salt and pepper to taste
- corn meal
Place a pan over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion. Saute for 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent, then added the mushrooms, garlic, and dried thyme. Continue to cook for another 5 – 7 minutes. The mushrooms should be cooked long enough that they release their moisture and reduce in volume. Stir periodically to ensure that the vegetables do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Continue to saute until the liquid that has been released from the mushrooms has cooked off.
Remove the pan from heat. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Top the pizza crust with the mushroom mixture and spread evenly across the crust, leaving about a 1″ around the edge of the crust plain. Next, sprinkle the Parmesan across the mushrooms and finally top with the mozzarella.
Bake the pizza at 425F for 7 – 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden in color. NOTE: the crust should also have a golden color.
Now you are ready to slice and enjoy!
So pizza fans, with a little advance planning, you too can be enjoying homemade pizza at home. Make the dough in advance, let it rise, pre-bake the crust, use fresh ingredients (stay away from canned mushrooms), and perhaps your friends and family will be placing your number on speed dial for great tasting pizza.