After a long week at work, we sometimes feel torn between falling into bed at 8:00pm or going out all night with friends. Getting together to cook dinner with friends is a happy compromise–who doesn’t love great food and great company? Not to mention, cooking at home is a bargain compared to going out, and it provides lots of leftovers to munch on throughout the weekend.
Homemade pizza is a quick and easy meal that’s perfect for sharing with friends and family. You can divide the dough into multiple mini pizzas, or you can divide a pizza and customize each section. We made two pizzas last weekend, both topped with homemade sauce, lots of fresh vegetables, and mozzarella. The best part of the second pizza was the parmesan-coated crust. It was so good that we might use this recipe every weekend!
You can make homemade dough quickly by using a stand mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can still use this recipe! Instructions for mixing by hand or using a food processor can be found with the original recipe, linked below.
If you’re going to the trouble of making real homemade pizza, you might as well make your own tomato sauce. This hearty sauce is one of Kerry’s family recipes (remember the amazing Oreo Dessert?) so you know it’s good. It’s easy to whip up some dough and leave it to rise while you make sauce, prepare toppings, and enjoy a glass (or three) of wine.
Pizza Dough – Makes two large pizzas
½ cup warm water (about 110°)
1 envelope (2 ¼ tsp.) instant yeast
1 ¼ cups water, at room temperature
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 ½ tsp. salt
olive oil for greasing the bowl
Measure the warm water and pour into a small bowl or 2-cup measuring cup, Add yeast and let stand for five minutes or until the yeast has dissolved. Add the room temperature water and the olive oil and stir.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, briefly combine flour and salt using the paddle attachment. Mixing continuously on low speed, slowly add the liquids and mix until an even dough has formed. Stop mixer and switch to the dough hook, then knead for about five minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Bread flour has a slightly higher gluten content than regular flour, and the kneading stage helps develop the gluten protein so you have a doughy, crusty pizza.
Use a few drops of olive oil and a paper towel or brush to oil the inside of a large mixing bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the oiled bowl, then cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size. This will take about 1 ½ to 2 hours. A good way to test whether the dough has risen adequately is to push down hard into the dough with one finger. The dough will spring back rapidly if the dough needs more time to rise, but it will barely spring back at all if the dough has finished rising. When the dough has finished rising, punch it down to deflate it.
If you will be baking your pizza immediately, place your pizza stone, pan, or upside down cookie sheet (the choice of the understocked post-grad cook) in the oven and preheat to 500° for at least 30 minutes. Heating the stone or pan allows the bottom of the crust to start cooking immediately when you put the pizza in the oven.
Meanwhile, place your dough on a lightly floured work surface and divide into two equal pieces. Shape each into a smooth ball. If you will not be using your dough immediately, you can bag and freeze it at this time. If not, cover the dough with a damp tea towel and allow it to relax for 10-30 minutes. This relaxes the gluten, making the dough easier to shape.
Work with one piece of dough at a time while leaving the other piece covered. Shape the dough and place on a pizza peel or piece of parchment paper dusted with cornmeal. Top with sauce (recipe below), cheese, and anything else you desire. We used mozzarella, spinach, thin slices of raw red onion and peppers, sundried tomatoes, and cooked sausage. Brush the crust with olive oil and dust with parmesan cheese if desired. Carefully slide your pizza onto the pizza stone or pan. If you are using parchment, that will go into the oven under the pizza; however, you may want to trim any large overhanging edges.
Bake the pizza for 10-12 minutes or until the crust has begun to brown. Repeat this process with the remaining ball of dough, then enjoy your two delicious pizzas!