Homemade Pizza

I decided to venture into some long forgotten territory and throw together a few homemade pizza’s for my little brother’s birthday bash! The last time I made pizzas from scratch was for a house of 36. The pizzas were so large that each took up an industrial size baking sheet! This time, I definitely had to scale down my operation and made only seven, 12-inch pizzas.

The dough recipe I used is a combination from those I found at SimplyRecipes and YumSugar, and advice from past pizza making excursions of Ammi and Abba (Mom and Dad). The sauce is a recipe I’ve been perfecting for nearly three years now, first taught to me by a very close Italian friend, and I use it for many of my pasta dishes. Finally, the suggested toppings are some pairings I’ve experimented with or tasted in the past. Try it out on your next pizza night and let me know what you think! 🙂
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Ingredients

Dough (makes two 12-inch pizzas)

  • 1 1/2 c warm water (105°F-115°F)
  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 c bread flour (you can use all-purpose flour, but bread flour will give you a crisper crust)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar

Sauce

  • 1 (28 oz) can whole, peeled tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 
1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • salt to taste

Toppings (some suggestions)

  • shredded mozzarella
  • pineapple and black olives
  • fresh tomato chunks and fresh basil leaves
  • thinly sliced potatoes and corn
  • artichoke hearts and spinach
  • pistachios
  • beets
  • eggplant chunks and summer squash

Directions

Dough

  1. In a large bowl, add warm water. Sprinkle in yeast and sugar and let sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Stir to dissolve completely if needed after 5 minutes. You want to be sure that the water is not too hot, or else you will kill the yeast, but you want it warm enough that they are activated. Adding the sugar also makes sure they have yummy things to eat when they awaken! If you can smell the fermentation and see bubbles in the mixture after 5 minutes, you know your yeast are alive and ready to make some dough!
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  3. Add in olive oil, bread flour, and salt until throughly mixed. (You can also use an electric mixer to do this).
  4. Kneed the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Sprinkle in more flour as needed so the dough is not too wet or sticky. (Again, you can also use an electric mixer with a dough hook for this, on low to medium speed for about 10 minutes).
  5. Lightly coat the dough with olive oil and place it in a large bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit refrigerated overnight. Many recipes say to let the dough rise for 1 1/2-2 hours in a warm place, but I every time I’ve made pizza dough I’ve always let it rise overnight in the fridge. I recently stumbled upon a New York Times article that also describes the benefits of an overnight rise.

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Sauce

  1. Using a food processor (or a knife), shred the can of whole tomatoes so that only a few, small chunks remain.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced onions and cook until they are golden brown, about 5-10 minutes.
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  4. Add minced garlic and cook for another 2-5 minutes.
  5. Add tomato mixture, basil, oregano, black pepper, and salt to taste. Let simmer on low heat for 45 minutes – 1 hour, stirring occasionally until sauce is thickened. The key to this sauce is really the time. The longer the simmer, the more fully the flavors combine. If you have fresh basil, add 1 tsp fresh chopped basil for a really nice kick.

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Finally, making the pizzas (without a pizza stone)!

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
  2. Remove the plastic cover for the dough and punch it so it deflates a bit. Divide the dough in half. Form two round balls and place each in its own bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes while the dough “proofs.”
  3. Take one ball of dough and flatten it with your hands on a slightly floured work surface. Starting at the center and working outwards, use your fingertips to press the dough to 1/2-inch thick. Turn and stretch the dough until it will not stretch further. Let the dough relax for 5 minutes and then continue to stretch it until it reaches the desired shape (in this case, 12-inches in diameter). Use your palm to flatten the edge of the dough where it is thicker. Pinch the edges of the dough to form a lip.
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  5. Place the pizza pan or large baking sheet in the oven for at least 15 minutes. Remove with a pot holder and drizzle with olive oil, turning to coat the whole pan/sheet.
  6. Transfer the dough upside-down onto the prepared sheet and bake for approximately 2-5 minutes. Remove with a pot holder and carefully flip over the slightly cooked dough.
  7. Cover with tomato sauce, cheese, and desired toppings. Try not to load up each pizza with a lot of toppings if you want a really crispy crust.
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  9. Bake until the crust is browned and the cheese is golden, about 10-12 minutes.
  10. Repeat for the second ball of dough.
  11. Let cool for about 5 minutes, cut into slices, and dig in!

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