First of all, you may be asking 'why?', when there are perfectly good frozen pizzas that you just pop in the oven or awesome papas who will bring a steaming, cheesy pie to your front door, would you want to make your own. Over the past several months, I've decided (due to health reasons and because all my friends are doing it) to clean up what we eat, consuming as few processed foods as possible. I started with a just few of our meals and PIZZA NIGHT pizza was one of them.
Here are the main ingredients that you need for the dough and sauce:
Dissolve a tablespoon (or one packet) of yeast in 1-1/3 cups water. The water should be at about 120 degrees F. I let my faucet run for a few seconds (I know, wasting water) and it's right at 120. I know this because I actually used a thermometer on it! If the water is too hot, you'll kill the yeast. I don't know if I've ever killed yeast or not, but, hey, it's just pizza dough...
The yeast needs to dissolve in the water, usually takes 5-10 minutes.
While the yeast is doing its thing, combine three cups of flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese in a bowl or your handy-dandy Kitchen Aid mixer. Mix this, then add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Check your yeast to make sure it's completely dissolved. I usually stir it a little about now. I don't know if that's proper yeast procedure, but I'm impatient.
Turn your mixer on or start stirring and slowly add the dissolved yeast. Mix this until everything sticks together and no flour is left in the bowl. When that's done, I use a silicone scraper to remove all the dough from the paddle and change to the dough hook. I've discovered that silicone scrapers do NOT stick to the dough and make dealing with it a lot easier.
Before you begin kneading, turn the oven on to warm and PAY ATTENTION TO IT! It only needs to warm up for four-five minutes, then turn it off.
If you don't have a mixer, you get the pleasure of hand-kneading! Do this on a floured surface, like a large cutting board or your dining table if you have negligible amounts of counter space like me. This is a very carthartic process so don't fret. Basically, you're going to smush the dough up into a ball, turn it, then smush it flat, repeat. Knead for about 5-8 minutes. Roll the dough into a ball. Prepare an oven safe bowl or vessel of your choice by coating it with olive oil. Roll the dough around in the oil before you let it settle in it's little oily bed.
In order to keep some moisture near the dough, I wet a cloth dish towel (remember, the oven is OFF!) and lay it over the top rack and put the bowl of dough on the bottom rack. Shut the door, set the timer for an hour, 30 minutes if you're short on time, and get ready to make some sauce.
For the sauce, I use a 15-ounce can of tomato sauce and a 6-ounce can of tomato paste. Mix these together by putting the paste in a bowl and slowly adding the sauce as you whisk. Then add one teaspoon of basil and one teaspoon of oregano. Sometimes, I add a bit of garlic, but most of the time I forget.
At this time, I double check all of my toppings so that I still have time to run to the store if my 11 year old has eaten all of the pepperoni left from last time.
Some of our favorite toppings are pepperoni (always have this...boys, you know), veggies (whatever I have), fresh basil with black olives and feta or ricotta, and BBQ chicken. Pretty much anything is good on a pizza and it's fun to be creative!
I also use this time to prep my pizza stones. I use the Pampered Chef stones, which are one of the greatest kitchen tools ever and just smear olive oil all over 'em.
If the dough rising fairies have been kind to you, your dough has doubled in size. Smush this down with the super-duper non-sticking silicon spatula and divide it into two halves.
Form them into thick circles and plop them onto the oily stones. Roll the dough all the way out to the edges of the stones and use a fork to poke holes all over the dough.
If you want a thicker crust you can either use the dough to make only one pizza or, once the dough is rolled out onto the stones, warm the oven again and put them back in for another 30 minutes or so.
Once you're ready to assemble your pizza, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and spread the sauce to within one inch of the edge, creating your crust. If you want a crust that sticks up above the toppings like the restaurant pizzas, smush the dough up. That's all I've got...
All that's left is to add your toppings and cheese. Bake the pizzas for 10 minutes or so and that's it!
In my previous experience with homemade pizza, it always seemed to be as expensive as ordering pizza. Thanks to Costco and Trader Joe's, these pizzas aren't that expensive unless you want fancy toppings...
The cost of one pepperoni pizza, not including salt, sugar, basil and oregano is only $ 4.50. I count the labor as a gift to my family.