Homemade Pizza is easier than you think, and tons of fun too.
One of mine and Amy’s favorite dinners to cook together is homemade pizza. Amy is the pizza dough master (secrets in the cornmeal) and I manage the toppings. We’ve built several dozen pizzas together over the years and each with a different flavor combination. Some of our most common toppings include fresh basil, roasted garlic, pepperoni, roasted red bell peppers, mozzarella cheese, sliced Roma tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and always Trader Joe’s pizza sauce. Feel free to make a homemade pizza sauce if you prefer but we absolutely love the TJ’s brand and always keep several jars on hand.
The most fun thing about making pizza at home is that the toppings are as limitless as your imagination. I’ve listed common toppings already but we have also gone outside our comfort zone and made some pretty rad pizzas. A few favorites have been Asian Pear and Maple Sausage, Fresh Ricotta and Tomato, Sweet Pea and Prosciutto, Jalapeño Popper with Bacon, Chicken Pad Thai, BBQ Cauliflower with Pickled Red Onion, and a Tex-Mex Pizza with taco flavored tofu instead of ground hamburger. Don’t be intimated to try something new because if it doesn’t work out, you can always have it delivered.
And remember, a family that builds pizza together stays together.
Pizza Dough (makes up to four servings)
1 cup wheat flour (if you prefer a wheat only dough omit the self rising and white flour and use 2 1/2 cups wheat flour instead)
1 cup self rising flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons local honey
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup coarse cornmeal, reserved
6 ounces of warm water plus 1 ounce of water reserved
In a stand mixer, add the warm water and yeast (the warm water activates the yeast). Once yeast is activated, add the remaining ingredients except for the cornmeal and reserve one ounce of water. Knead the dough about 7 minutes on a low-medium speed, add reserved water if dough is too dry and not forming properly. Once the dough has mixed, either proof the dough in the oven for one hour or let it rise at room temp for an hour and a half. Be sure to cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel so the dough doesn’t try out and start forming a crust.
Once the dough has risen, divide it into three or four equal portions (vary by how thick you like your dough) and freeze the remaining dough for quick pizza nights. Dust a rolling mat with course cornmeal and flour then roll the pizza dough out large enough to cover your pizza pan. We use a round cast iron pizza pan which is pretty large in size. So our dough is thinner but sturdy enough to hold up elaborate toppings. The trick to a great dough is to preheat your pizza pan. We usually set the oven at 450 degrees but feel free to set the oven as high as 500 degrees, just be certain to adjust your cooking time to accommodate the higher cooking temperature. Once your pizza pan is preheated, dust it with a bit of the cornmeal. Then very carefully place the dough on the pan. Amy rolls the dough back onto her rolling pin and then slowly unrolls it across the pizza pan but use whatever method is most comfortable for you. Place the dough in the oven and flashback the dough about 10 minutes. Remove the dough from the oven and if desired, coat the dough in a little drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle the edges with kosher salt.
Now it’s time to assemble your pizza! We start with a generous amount of TJ’s pizza sauce, then sprinkle on our favorite Italian cheese blend, and finish up with the remaining toppings, followed by a small amount of cheese (usually rough torn pieces of mozzarella) on top just to help hold the toppings together. Feel free to assemble the pizza anyway you like. It is your creation so own it. Bake the pizza in a 450 degree oven for at least 20 minutes if you prefer your cheese golden and bubbly like we do. If you are cooking the pizza at a higher temp then reduce your cooking time accordingly. Finally let the pizza rest at least five minutes before eating so the cheese doesn’t scald your mouth. Enjoy!