My husband and his family have a deep-rooted love of pizza; deep dish, pan, thin crust, Chicago-style, wood-fire – you name it, they love it! I’m pretty sure they would happily eat pizza every night if they could. My father-in-law has spent many years perfecting his homemade pizza routine. He makes his own crust, sauce and uses a variety of cheeses. When I joined the family in 2010, I quickly realized that I needed to step up my homemade pizza game. It took a lot of trial and error but I think I’ve finally gotten it. I feel comfortable saying I can homemade pizza with the best of them; basically like a boss. So, here is my crust recipe, a few time-saving ideas and lots of tips so you can make homemade pizza like a boss too.
- Oven (Preheated to 500 degrees F)
- Pizza stone (Put in cold and preheat with oven on middle rack) – The stone will make your crusts crispy – a good investment! If you don’t have one, you can easily use a baking sheet of any shape instead.
- Large flat spatula
- Wooden pizza peel or cutting board (Textured plastic cutting boards will not work for this. I’ve tried.)
- 3 pkg quick rise yeast (1/4 oz. ea)
- 2 Tbs sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 5 to 5 1/2 cups whole wheat or white flour (I sometimes use half whole wheat and half white – whatever you have will work!)
- 2 1/2 cups warm water (120 -130 degrees F)
- 3 Tbs olive oil
- In a large bowl, combine warm water, yeast, sugar and olive oil. Let sit in warm place.
- In separate large bowl, mix flour and salt.
- Once a foamy yeast layer has formed on the water mixture, slowly add it to flour bowl until sticky dough is formed. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. (Although, in a pinch I have skipped this step and it still turns out just fine – albeit a little flatter.)
- Roll dough onto floured counter surface and knead for 6-8 minutes. (Truth – I sometimes skimp on the kneading time too. A mama’s gotta do what a mama’s gotta do to get supper on the table.)
- Divide the dough into three portions and roll into circles with a rolling pin. Make sure to flour your counter beforehand, or it will stick!
Assembly and Cooking:
- Sprinkle your cutting board or pizza peel with cornmeal. — This is very important!! — The cornmeal acts as a medium to help the dough easily slide from the board to the pizza stone. When I was first learning, I used to get so frustrated because the dough would get stuck to the board and end up very mangled. Cornmeal is a lifesaver!
- Carefully transfer dough to a cutting board or pizza peel (I’ve found that loosely folding the crust into quarters makes the transfer easy.)
- The pizza can now be assembled (on the cutting board or pizza peel) with your choice of toppings.
- Sauces: tomato sauce (I use spaghetti sauce because my grocery store doesn’t always carry “pizza sauce”. We can’t tell the difference.), ranch, barbecue sauce, or no sauce!
- Toppings: pepperoni, sausage, veggies of all kinds, chicken, even pineapple and ham. Whatever smokes your shorts!
- Cheese: Mozzarella, shredded Parmesan, goat cheese, feta or even ricotta could be interesting!
- Your masterpiece can now be transferred to the oven. It may take a few times of practicing to get this part right but you should be able to easily use a spatula to loosen the edges of the crust and, in one quick motion, slide the pizza off the board and onto the preheated stone. (Note: if you don’t preheat the pizza stone with your oven up to 500 degrees, you won’t have a crispy crust. The stone has to get hot as well.)
- Set a timer for about 10 minutes. Depending on whether it is the first or third pizza of the night, it may cook slower or faster. Check it often if you are worried.
- When the pizza looks golden brown and bubbly, put your pizza peel on one side and use the spatula to help slide your delicious creation back onto your board. It will be screaming hot so don’t use your fingers… I’ve done that too, and immediately regretted it.
All that’s left to do is enjoy! One thing that I love about pizza is that it can be paired with just about anything. Typically, we have a lettuce salad and some fruit. But truth be told, some nights we are lucky to get the pizza on the table… So I guess it’s a good thing I’m a homemade pizza boss.