Raise your hand if you love pizza! Raise both hands if you love homemade pizza! Homemade pizza is one of my favorite meals to arrange here at the farm. We no longer do it every single week, but we do it plenty. I love the fact that on pizza night everyone can eat exactly what they want, it makes the house smell amazing, and the whole process slows us down a bit. Pizza day is always fun!
Toppings are simple and completely up to you. Here at the W, we always make two sauces: Heavy, salty Alfredo in one pot and slow-simmered, sweet and garlicky marinara in another. (Sometimes I mix mine into a pink sauce.) Then we offer chopped grilled chicken breast (amazing with Alfredo), some raw veggies and herbs (I vote for mushrooms, basil, and parsley whenever possible), maybe jarred olives and artichokes, and sometimes pepperoni, ground Italian sausage, etc. And of course mozzarella and parmesean cheeses.
The details totally depend on our group that night. Have you tried Edie’s son’s version with honey and garlic? Delish. Often guests are happy to bring fun toppings to share, too! This is one of the coolest pot luck strategies in my opinion: “I’ll make a ton of dough and sauce, and y’all bring toppings!” Instant party.
If toppings are the paint, then crust is the canvas. Excellent pizza really relies on excellent crust, doesn’t it? After trying several recipes and methods over time I have finally settled on a certain combination that all of us love. It’s tender, hand-tossable, easy, and reliable. My book club girls have been requesting this recipe, and I might as well put it here on my blog in case the crispy, wrinkled recipe pages where I’ve been taking notes over the years ever finally bite the dust.
Okay. My favorite pizza crust is basically from a slightly tweaked Betty Crocker recipe.
5 to 6 cups all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt (I admit to a psychotic addiction to sea salt)
4 1/2 teaspoons of yeast (or 2 envelopes)
6 generous Tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups very warm water (see notes below for a REALLY cool trick)
optional: garlic powder and dried Italian spices to taste
- First bring some water to boil in your tea kettle. When it is really whistling, measure into a heatproof measuring bowl one cup of boiling water, then add to that one cup of cold tap water. The half-and-half combination will give you precisely the right temperature you need to activate and grow your yeast, without needing a thermometer or endless water corrections. It’s magic. Kitchen magic, I tell you! (In case you want to check, the yeast needs water that is 120*-130* F)
- Now in a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups of the flour with all of your sugar, salt, and yeast. Using nothing more than a wooden spoon (I mean you could use an electric mixer, but let’s be Amish!), stir in the olive oil and magical warm water. Be sure to scrape down and incorporate all the dry stuff. At this stage, if you want fancy dough, add garlic powder and Italian spices too. It’s truly wonderful with or without.
- Now add enough of the remaining flour to your dough to make it nice and soft (I err on the side of less, since you’ll generously dust your working surface later). Betty Crocker says the dough should begin to leave the sides of your bowl.
- Dust your working surface with more flour and knead the whole fragrant, malleable heap of goodness with your bare hands. Knead it for several minutes, until it’s “smooth and springy” Ms. Crocker advises. The transformation is just beautiful. It feels sexy in your hands. But, in an Amish way. Totally wholesome.
- Now leave the giant ball of heavy, yeasty, silky dough in the same large bowl and cover lightly. You can use plastic wrap or maybe a clean, damp cotton tea towel. It’s only going to rise once, unlike lots of breads, and only for half an hour. And honestly I feel like thin crust is the way to live your life. So if it doesn’t rise to the sky that’s fine. But if you want it really thick and poofy, then make sure your dough is kept warm somehow. I always use an oven proof glass bowl just in case I feel the need to slip it into a barely warm oven (less than 200*).
The Fun Part! and extra notes:
- Okay, now the dough becomes a crust! I’ve given you the proportions for a double recipe, which is actually four good sized pizzas. So tear it apart once, then again, so you have four similar hunks of smooth, springy dough.
- Each one can be handed to its potential toppings artist for hand-tossing, rolling, or just pressing onto a pizza stone or greased cookie sheet. Instruct each other to speak with bad Italian accents as you work.
- By the way, for a really cool restaurant effect, use a drizzling of olive oil and a sprinkling of corn meal on your pan.
- If you’ve made more dough than you need, just pop it into a freezer bag and seal well for the next pizza party.
- For thin crusts, make sure to roll or toss it even thinner than you think you should, then pre-bake at about 400* for less than 10 minutes. It won’t come out crisp yet, but after you top it and bake it again? Perfect.
- For thick crusts, don’t handle it much more. Just shape it and let it rise once more on the stone or cookie sheet.
- Either way, once you’re ready, top it all to your heart’s content with everything that pleases your pizza-loving soul.
- For book club recently, I rolled some dough extra thin, topped it with marinara, cheese, and pepperoni, rolled it up, brushed the outside with egg wash and added Parmesan, then sliced it crosswise like you would cinnamon rolls. Cook slices on their sides for really yummy pizza roll ups!
- Okay, traditional pizzas just go in a hot oven until cheese is melted. Thin crusts only take about 10 minutes at maybe 425*, thick crusts take up to 20 minutes at 375*.
Friends, I’m telling you, there are two ginormous slices of leftover homemade pizza in my refrigerator right now. I’m not hungry. Not at all. But after talking to you about this I am giving serious consideration to eating that stuff cold.
Cold pizza, family, and friends who love books. Life is good.
“You better cut the pizza in four pieces
because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”