Homemade Pizza – Not Hard At All!

We love pizza, especially fresh out of the oven.  So, how better to impress your football-loving friends than with your own homemade pizza, fresh out of your oven?

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BLT Pizza

Making pizza at home is a lot easier than you might think.  The task requires only a few ingredients which can be prepared a day ahead.  And you can add whatever toppings you might want – and it will be a whole lot more fun than the local delivery joint.

Our major revision to this post is the way we handle making pizza dough.  It’s super easy, and it is almost fool-proof.  We are using the method we saw on Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street show (click HERE to see the original post), which comes together in minutes.

Our favorite party idea:  Have guests bring their favorite ingredients – then mix & match.

Here’s a quick primer on what to do, with a few of our favorite recipes.

What You’ll Need

The tools you’ll need for homemade pizza can be found in some grocery stores, specialty kitchen ware stores (for example, Sur la Table), and Amazon.com.

  1. While you can use a sheet pan, a pizza stone is really the best for getting a crisp crust  – we prefer the type that sits onto of a grill grate, but a simple stone that you can use in your oven or grill works fine.

grill-top-pizza-stone2. The easiest way to put a pizza onto the hot stone (and to take it off) is with a pizza peel.  They’re inexpensive, and can also serve as a cutting board for the pizza.

Wood-Pizza-Peel

3. You’ll need something to cut the pizza – a chef’s knife can work.  Some folks swear by the rolling wheel version, but our favorite is the rocker version.

Pizza-cutter4. A large wooden board for forming the pizza, as well as for cutting the pizza.  This pastry board gives you measurements right on the board

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5. You’ll need some corn meal – this will serve as our “ball bearings” that will help to slide the pizza off the peel.

6. Lastly, you’ll need your ingredients, including the pizza dough.


Pizza Dough

The absolute easiest way to make homemade pizza is to buy the dough.  Local bakeries, and some grocery stores (especially those with in-house bakeries) can supply fresh pizza dough.  If you don’t see it, just ask – you might be pleasantly surprised.  You might also find frozen dough next to the frozen pizzas in your grocery stores.  We don’t recommend the Pillsbury pre-made dough and other products like it – just take a look at the ingredients list.  The key to any pizza dough is to bring it to room temperature a few hours before your ready to shape it.

If you have a nice stand mixer, and a little bit of time, you can easily make your own dough.  After testing many recipes, and interviewing many professional pizza makers, we have found the best pizza dough recipe for the Serious Foodie home chef, modified slightly from the version on Milksteet.com.   You will need at least 24 hours in the refrigerator to ferment.

Homemade Pizza Dough
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Serves: 4 pizzas

Ingredients

  • 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 cups bread flour, or “00” flour (found at specialty food stores, or Amazon.com. Many professionals use 100% “00” flour – the dough will be lighter, but harder to handle)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups room temperature water (it’s safer to use bottled water.  Our Florida water tends to suppress the yeast)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for storage

Instructions

  1. In the separate small bowl, mix the sugar into 1½ cups room temperature water, then sprinkle yeast over the water; let stand until yeast is creamy, 5 to 10 minutes. IMPORTANT: Use water without salt – any good store-bought bottled water will work.
  2. Add the flours to the mixing bowl. Turn the mixer on low, then slowly add the yeast/water mixture. Mix on low speed for 5 minutes or until dough forms a coarse ball.
  3. Let dough rest, with bowl covered with a damp kitchen towel, 20 minutes, then remove towel, sprinkle the salt over the dough, and knead on medium-low speed, 5-7 minutes more, or until dough clears sides of bowl. If dough is too soft and sticky to hold its shape, mix in more flour by the tablespoonful. If it is too stiff or dry, mix in more water by the tablespoonful. (If not using a mixer, dough can be combined in a large bowl and, on a lightly floured work surface, vigorously kneaded by hand, following kneading and resting times above).
  4. Scrape the dough onto a well-floured cutting board, and divide into 4 pieces.  With floured hands, form each into a taut ball and dust with flour.  Lightly oil a four quart-size plastic containers, cover, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or up to 72 hours.
  5. About 1 hour before making the pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator and set each container into a larger bowl with 100 F water for 30 minutes.  On a lightly floured surface, press 1 dough ball with your fingers to begin to shape into a round. Use your fist and hands to gently stretch the dough into a 10-inch round. [There are many fine videos on forming the dough – click HERE to see a nice YouTube video]
  6. Add about 1 tablespoon semolina flour to the pizza peel, and spread it evenly around. Transfer the dough to the pizza peel.
  7. Add the ingredients according to the recipe (see below for some examples).

Pizza Recipes

Fig, Pear, and Goat Cheese Pizza with Arugula

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Serves: 6-8 slices
This pizza is a great starter – half pizza, half salad. You can use dried figs, or use fresh figs if they are in season.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 cup dried figs, stemmed, quartered
  • 1/2 cup Marsala
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 pear, cored, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pizza dough

Instructions

  1. Heat 1/2 Tbsp. oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot; stir until soft, about 5 minutes. Add figs, Marsala, and rosemary. Increase heat. Bring to a boil. Add 1 cup water. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring often and adding water by tablespoonfuls if too thick, until figs are soft and jam measures 1 1/4 cups, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Toss the pear and arugula together with balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Preheat oven to 450°. Form the dough piece on a floured surface to a very thin 10″ round.
  4. Spread 3–4 Tbsp. fig jam over the dough, then scatter the goat cheese. Bake until crust is crisp, 4–5 minutes.
  5. Top the pizza with the arugula and pear salad.

BLT Pizza

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Serves: 8 slices
There are many versions of this pizza – Our version focuses on fresh ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 pizza dough
  • 4 slices of cooked bacon, chopped – we use an artisan applewood smoked bacon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or garlic oil, if you have it).
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, washed
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

Instructions

  1. Form the pizza dough into a 10 inch round. Spread the olive oil over the top of the pizza dough.
  2. Spread the ricotta over the pizza evenly. Spread the spinach over the ricotta. Add the tomato, then season with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread the mozzarella, then the Parmesan cheeses over the pizza. Bake for about 10 minutes until the crust is crisp.

Serious Foodie Cheesesteak Pizza

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Serves: 8 slices
This recipe combines creamy Gorgonzola with grilled steak and balsamic glazed onions – a very up-scaled version of a Philly cheesesteak

Ingredients

  • 1 pizza dough
  • 8 oz. grilled flank steak (see The Serious Foodie previous posting: click HERE).
  • 4 oz. Gorgonzola dolce
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups arugula or spinach

Instructions

  1. Form the pizza dough into a 10 inch round. Spread the olive oil over the top of the pizza dough.
  2. Make the balsamic onions: heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until golden, about 12 minutes. Add the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Reduce the heat to medium low, then simmer until the liquid nearly cooks away, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Thinly slice the grilled flank steak into 1 to 2 inch pieces. Place the steak onto the pizza dough. Scatter pieces of the Gorgonzola over the steak, followed by the onions and mozzarella.
  4. Bake for about 10 minutes until the crust is crisp.
  5. While the pizza is baking, toss the arugula or spinach with about 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. After removing the pizza from the oven or grill, let sit for 2 minutes. Spread the dressed greens over the pizza before slicing.

Seriously Great Mushroom Pizza

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Serves: 8 slices
This recipe takes a bit of work, but it is worth it.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound of mixed mushrooms (crimini, shitaki, oyster, etc.)
  • 1 leek, cleaned and julienne sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons mascarpone, or creme fraiche
  • 1 bottle dry white wine – preferably Soave
  • 1 pizza dough
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

Instructions

  1. Make the mushrooms – In a large skillet, melt butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add leeks and saute for about 5 minutes until soft. Add mushrooms, 1/4 cup white wine, then season with salt and pepper, and cook until all the liquid is reduced. Add 2 tablespoons of mascarpone or creme fraiche, cook for 2 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Cool until needed.
  2. Put the remainder of the white wine in a sauce pan,and bring to a boil. Reduce until about 4 ounces remain. Add 1 cup of mascarpone, or creme fraiche, and cook until thick.
  3. Form the pizza dough into a 10 inch round. Spread olive oil over the top of the pizza dough, then place the mushrooms evenly over the pizza. Spoon the wine sauce over the mushrooms, followed by the mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake the pizza for about 10 minutes until the crust is crisp.

 

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