May 1, 2012

Homemade Pizza {Worth the Effort}

I love pizza.  Cheese pizza.  I wish I could eat it several days a week.  Instead I settle for two or three times a month.  For several years I was on a quest to make better homemade pizza.  I figured out a few things along the way.  Then, about a year ago, I finally found a good pizza dough recipe.

You can see the original, really detailed recipe here.  For my own purposes, and maybe yours, too, I am summarizing it here, and including photos.   If you are motivated to make this, know that you need to make the dough at least 24 hours in advance.  The initial work is actually fairly quick; most of the labor-intensive work happens the half hour or so before you eat.

If you are going to take the time to make your own dough, I would strongly suggest you use homemade pizza sauce and take the time to shred your own mozzarella cheese.  We do not prefer the low-moisture mozzarella for pizza.  (Typically, a one pound block of mozzarella is enough cheese for one complete recipe of the homemade pizza below, though we eat the pizzas on two different occasions.  The shredded cheese freezes fine.)
Homemade Pizza Dough
4 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour, CHILLED
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil (optional)
1 3/4 cups water, ice cold
Cornmeal for dusting

1. Stir together flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl.  Using a metal spoon or paddle attachment of stand mixer, stir in the oil and water until mixed.  Mix for 5-7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth, even if mixing by hand. (Use a dough hook if using mixer on medium speed.)   The dough will be very sticky, but should clear the sides of the dough, though it will stick to the bottom of the bowl.  The finished dough is not just tacky, but very sticky.

2.  Sprinkle lots of flour on the counter and transfer the dough.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Mist the parchment with cooking spray.  Cut the dough into 4 (to 6) equal pieces.  Sprinkle flour onto each piece and your hands.  Then shape into a ball.  Transfer the dough balls to the parchment paper.  Mist the dough with cooking spray and place the dough in a large, food-grade plastic bag.
Edited: I have started cutting the dough into three pieces to make larger pizzas and the crust isn't quite so thin.  The four of us eat two of the pizzas still.

3. Place in the refrigerator overnight, for up to three days.  If saving for future use, roll dough balls in a bit of oil first, and then place dough balls each in a freezer bag.  Transfer frozen dough balls to the refrigerator the day before you intend to make the pizza.

4. Remove dough balls from the refrigerator 2 hours prior to making pizza.  Upon removal from fridge, heavily dust the counter with flour and mist with cooking spray.  Press dough into a flat disk of 5-6 inches and a half-inch thick.  Sprinkle dough with flour and mist with cooking spray.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Let it rest for two hours.  See all that flour pictured below?  That much flour keeps it from sticking to the counter!
5.  If you are using a pizza stone, preheat your oven AND pizza stone to 450° forty-five minutes prior to baking.  (See step #5 at the original recipe for other options if you do not have a pizza stone.  Also, they recommend the highest temperature possible, but I tired of burned cheese with raw dough, so I like 450°.)  The stone should be in the lower third of the oven.

6. Dust your pizza peel (or back of a sheet pan) generously with cornmeal.   Dip your hands in flour.  Be generous.  You can follow the directions for using your fists at the original recipe, or stretch the dough with your fists and on the very floured counter.  Despite my pizza shop experience from my younger days, I find these pizzas are too small for me to effectively "fist" and toss.  I may just be out of practice.

 7. When the dough is stretched as thin as you can make it without putting holes in it, (10-12 inches) put it on the pizza peel.  Place an itty-bitty amount of sauce on it.  Really!  You only need a couple tablespoons of sauce.  You want to be able to see a lot of white through the sauce.  In the picture below, I was actually heavy-handed on the sauce.  Top with desired toppings.  We prefer cheese.  Nothing else.  But we are weird, and we know it.  Keep in mind as you test recipes that the basic cheese pizza is a good test though.
In addition to using homemade pizza sauce, be sure to take the time to shred your own mozzarella cheese.  We prefer to buy whole milk mozzarella cheese and NOT the low-moisture stuff.  (Even if it does shred better, it does not taste better.)
8. Do your best to slide the pizza onto the stone or sheet.  Stay close to the oven.  Consider using your oven light to watch the pizza because it bakes quickly.  Rotate after 2-3 minutes if the pizza is baking unevenly.  Remove pizza after 5-8 minutes.  Wait a couple minutes before slicing.  Enjoy!! 
Please Note:
~ Cornmeal can be used directly from the freezer.  I store my cornmeal in the freezer since I only use it for pizza and the occasional cornbread.
~ Ovens often do not show the correct temperature.  Consider using an oven thermometer to check your temperature.  (My oven was only a year old when I learned it was inaccurate.)

I hope you enjoy!


~ Annette {This Simple Mom}

2 comments:

  1. I love pizza too! I enjoy experimenting with different pizza types that I have tried while dining out. My favorite homemade versions have been cheeseburger pizza, chicken bacon ranch, and honey chicken pizza. Yum!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Once I started making pizza - we cannot bring ourselves to go back to restaurants or take-n-bake. Homemade pizza is THE BEST! OH so yummy! I could eat it every day too. Which would be bad. Very, very bad!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!