I have a confession to make: I was completely afraid of and refused to bake with yeast until the author of one of my favorite blogs posted an encouraging recipe about homemade pizza. This was about 2 1/2 years ago, and since I had just quit my job to try this stay-at-home-mom gig, I felt a strong desire to be super domestic. I read the post about 75 times and then decided I could surely make a decent homemade pizza. I am so glad I tried. I have never bought (and will never buy) another premade pizza crust again. There just isn't any excuse when you have this recipe in your bag of tricks. You can have an awesome pizza, with homemade crust, homemade sauce, and hand-grated cheese in your mouth in less than one hour (start to finish). I promise. Now, I almost always make a Greek-inspired veggie pizza (because I really don't care for meat on my pizza), but your options are endless, people. I have used turkey pepperoni a couple times, as well as regular pepperoni. I've also made a black bean chipotle pizza and a tomato ricotta pizza. The point is that whenever you see a recipe for a pizza you'd like to try, please insert this crust into it. Don't buy it premade, and for heaven's sake don't buy that can of dough that explodes when you tap it on the counter. Make. This. Pizza. Dough.
Fast and Easy Pizza Dough
-from melskitchencafe.com (side note: Mel has NEVER let me down. I've made a bazillion of her recipes)
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon honey, heaping
- 1 tablespoon oil, heaping
- 1 cup warm water (I was always scared that I'd kill the yeast, but just make it so that it feels like a nice hot bath when you test it on your wrist and you will be just fine. Promise)
- 1 tablespoon yeast (this is the same as one small packet. It does not matter if you use instant yeast, or regular yeast. Really.)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Place the flour into a large mixing bowl. Stir the yeast into the hot water in a glass measuring cup or bowl until it dissolves. Add the honey and stir until melted. Add the oil and garlic salt and stir. Pour this mixture into the flour and stir until it comes together into a sticky ball. Turn out onto a floured counter or cutting board and knead for a couple of minutes or until smooth (adding flour as necessary to keep from sticking). At this point you can do one of two things: press this into a sheet pan or pizza pan, or stretch it out on a piece of parchment paper to transfer to a baking stone. I have done both with good results. Most often, I throw my flat rectangular stone in the oven at 425 to preheat while I make the dough. Then, I take a sheet of parchment paper that is about the same size and stretch my pizza dough into a rectangular-ish shape on the parchment, top it, and then carefully transfer the parchment (holding the sides) to the stone in the oven. It is risky, so be careful not to drop it. If you are cool and have a pizza peel, you don't need to mess with the parchment. I do not, and this method works just great for me. I like to live on the edge, but only in the kitchen. Also, feel free to break up the dough into smaller pizzas and let everyone top their own. I almost always do this for the girls, and make 2 individual cheese pizzas for them. I use the rest of the dough to make a bigger pizza for my husband and I. OK, so now you have great dough (that you didn't even have to let rise!) so you need some sauce. This sauce is fantastic. It comes together so fast, and is so good, that I won't even consider buying pizza sauce again.
Homemade Pizza Sauce
- 1 (14 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
- 1 t. sugar
- 1 t. dried basil
- 1 t. dried oregano
- 1/2 t. garlic salt
Throw it all into a food processor or blender and give it a whirl. That's it! You will only need about half this amount for one recipe of dough, so throw the other half in the freezer and you are a step ahead for your next pizza night already. You're welcome.
Tonight, I tried a different sauce that I found on Tasty Kitchen a few weeks ago and it was awesome. It has roasted red peppers in it, so the flavor is deep and smoky. The kids didn't like it, but we thought it was fantastic. My husband said it tasted "meaty". It also provided me with enough leftovers to freeze for next time.
Roasted Red Pepper Pizza Sauce
- 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
- 6 oz roasted red peppers (I had a 12 oz jar so used about half)
- 1 clove Garlic
- ½ whole White Onion
- black pepper/salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Food process all ingredients. That's it.
Once you have added enough sauce to your liking, it's time for the cheese. Hear me: GRATE YOUR OWN MOZZARELLA. The prepackaged stuff is coated with a preservative that doesn't melt so well. Your pizza will be a million times better if you take the 2 minutes to grate the cheese. So, go ahead, grab an 8 oz brick and get out your frustrations. I know what you foodies might be thinking--wouldn't fresh mozzarella be even better? I asked that same question, tried it, and am here to tell you that it is an epic fail. The water content is too high for this purpose, so save yourself some cash and save that premium cheese for a caprese salad. You just need your average old part-skim brick of mozzarella this time. We happen to like cheese (read my husband is obsessed with it), so I use nearly the entire 2 cups on this largish pizza. Less would most definitely get the job done. From here, continue to add your favorite toppings. I like some sliced bell pepper (not green), kalamata olives, artichoke hearts (squeeze the water out), sundried tomatoes, a bit of feta, and a sprinkle of dried oregano. But, the world, er, your pizza, is your oyster here. Do whatever makes you happy, but don't over-top it or it will be soggy. Bake your pizza at around 425 until it is how you like it. I like the crust crisp and the cheese a bit browned, but you might like it less done. Check it after 15 minutes, then keep a close eye. It usually takes me 20ish minutes to achieve my desired doneness. Let the pizza rest a few minutes, and then slice it up. Take a moment to feel incredibly proud of yourself for your achievement.
I remembered to snap a picture just after I had taken a bite of my third piece tonight--so here you go. The pizza du jour: roasted red pepper sauce, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, mozzarella, feta, and oregano. Totally divine.
Now get out your aprons, roll up your sleeves, and make some pizza!