As much as I love to cook, at times my laziness gets the best of me and I, like many others, succumb to the convenience of the pizza parlor across the street. While making my own pie was not nearly as convenient as takeout, it was not the arduous task I envisioned it to be.
Making sauce and cutting up toppings is the easy part. What has always prevented my (and I imagine most others’) success was making the crust. I recall the first time (as a child) being introduced to Boboli and my excitement that came topping the crust with mozzarella and sauce. As I sat in front of the oven window watching the cheese melt and salivating at my creation, there was nothing else in the world that could match my excitement (perhaps besides a new Cabbage Patch Doll or a new episode of Punky Brewster). My hopes and dreams of delicious homemade pizza were shattered at that first bite. Not even a child’s palate could be impressed by the glutenous and impossibly chewy Wonder Bread masquerading as crust. Many disappointments followed with store bought doughs and, given my lame bread making skills, I never dared to try making my own crust. Until now.
While I cannot say I was one hundred percent satisfied with the result, I did make a pretty tasty meal. The pizza dough was easy enough to make, though stretching it was a bit difficult. I made a little “test” pizza first (to check if I was spot on with the oven temperature and baking apparatus) which turned out crispy and delicious. I had slightly more difficulty stretching the dough thinly when it came time to make the big boys, leaving me with a slightly bread-ier result. Nonetheless, it was still tasty and I will use this recipe again taking more care to stretch the dough out thinly.
After cooking the crust for a few minutes sans toppings, I brushed it with some garlic infused olive oil, added a zippy homemade pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella, and then topped with leftover chicken, kalamata olives (a vice of mine), and thinly sliced roma tomatoes.
Read on for photos and recipes
Makes 2 10 inch crusts
- 1 c. water
- 3 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 Tb. olive oil
- 1½ tsp. salt
- 1 packet (2¼ tsp.) active dry yeast
- Combine yeast, 1½ cups flour and salt.
- Heat water and oil to 120º-130ºF. Add liquids to flour mixture and mix well. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on floured surface 5 to 7 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Use additional flour if necessary. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl; turn to grease top. Cover; let rise until dough tests ripe, about 40 minutes.
- Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; punch down to remove air bubbles. Divide dough in half; cover. Let dough relax 10 minutes. Shape each half into a smooth ball; roll or pat into 10-inch circles.
- Dust 2 baking sheets (pizza stone if you have one, I don’t) with cornmeal (I also added sesame seeds) and place pizzas on sheets. (Make sure you wipe off any errant cornmeal not directly under the pizza, if you do not it will burn and smoke at the very high temperature – learned the hard way). Bake in a 450º oven about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and lightly oil edges, top with sauce, cheese, and desired toppings.
- Return to oven for about 15 minutes, until crust is browned and cheese is bubbly.
Dough in progress
Mini test pizza
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 3 Tb. minced onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 roma tomato, diced small
- 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
- 3 oz. water
- 3 oz. Red wine
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. marjoram
- ¼ tsp. thyme
- ¼ tsp. oregano
- ¼ tsp. rosemary
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp. basil
- black pepper to taste
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 1 Tb. chopped fresh Italian parsely
- Heat olive oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sautee until translucent.
- Add in tomatoes and cook until soft.
- To the pan, add can of tomato paste, 3 oz. red wine, and 3 oz. water (or just fill the empty can half water, half wine). Heat through.
- Add salt, red pepper, black pepper, rosemary, basil, thyme, marjoram, and brown sugar. Cook over low heat about 10 minutes.
- Stir in parsley and cook just another 2 or 3 minutes.