I have always loved making homemade pizzas. In high school I worked at a take-and-bake pizza place, and on our breaks we got to make whatever kind of pizza we wanted. One of my favorites was an all meat pizza (chicken, bacon, and beef) with alfredo sauce and lots of cheese. Yummm! When I was an undergrad I used to buy dough mixes so that I could roll out my own crust and cook it to my favored crispiness. I started adding more vegetables like red and green peppers.Now my absolute favorite thing to do is to make my dough from scratch.
Since I have come to grad school, I have been learning the art of baking with yeast (and saving money), and have found the best recipe for making pizza dough that is super simple and uses things I already have stocked in my cabinets. Over the last two years I have made this recipe dozens of times: for me relaxing alone on a Friday night, for Andrew and I staying in for a pizza and movie night, and even for a pizza and game night that I hosted where my guests actually helped me roll out the dough and top it with a variety of their favorite topping combinations. I don’t order out for pizza anymore, because this is just so much better (not to mention cheaper in price, and can be healthier depending on your toppings). With our garden starting to erupt with vegetables (and basil!), we are starting to grow many of our favorite toppings, so I thought I would follow up this post on how to prepare some of my favorite pizzas. For now, here is the pizza crust recipe adapted from Jay’s Signature Pizza Crust recipe that can be found here.
This recipe makes 2 large pizza crusts, which I really like since you can enjoy one fresh and save one in the freezer for a quick pizza the next time around. Here I made 1 large crust that we ate right away (above) and made 2 small ones (below) in pie pans which I froze and plan to eat this weekend.
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (110°F/45°C)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1.) In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the warm water, and let sit for 10 minutes.
2.) Stir in the salt and oil and then mix in 3 cups of the flour. Keep adding flour until the dough can be formed into a ball (still sticky but workable).
3.) Turn dough onto a clean, well floured surface. Knead in more dough until flour is no longer sticky. I like to put a little oil on my hands to keep the dough from sticking to them.
4.) Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until double, which will take about 1 hour.
5.) Punch down the dough, and form two tight balls. From this point on it will keep in the fridge in a sealed bowl for up to a day.
6.) Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
7.) If baking pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, otherwise if you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, sprinkle a little of cornmeal on the stone. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out. I like to poke the rolled out dough with a fork to release any air pockets.
8.) I like to prebake my crusts to make them nice and crispy. This is optional, but I found that especially when you are adding a lot of toppings, the prebaking ensures that you won’t end up with a mushy, doughy crust. Once the oven is preheated prebake each crust in oven for 10-12 minutes or until just slightly golden.
If you are interested in freezing a crust, bake for 12-15 minutes until crust is golden, wait until it is cool, wrap it in cellophane (or if it is small enough in a freezer bag), and place it in the freezer. The frozen crust is best if used up in a week, although it might last longer (I am not sure if I have been able to keep one in the freezer longer than that – it is too good and too easy!).
9.) Use your favorite pizza recipe to top the pizza and bake in the oven until cheese and crust are golden brown, about 14-17 minutes.
Some of my successful pizzas:
Zucchini Eggplant pizza with roasted tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella (recipe to come soon):
A simple roasted tomato, green olive pizza with fresh basil and mozzarella:
The pizzas our guests made at our Munchkin n’ Munchies party: