I've always wanted to try making my own pizza from scratch. So, when my mom asked what we were going to make for dinner tonight, I figured, what better time than now? Let's do it!
The pizza crust is very much like a basic bread recipe. The only problem I ran into was when it came time to stretch it into shape. I tried pulling it, I tried tossing it, I tried letting gravity stretch it down. And, either way, the dough became too thin and I got holes in it. Finally, my dad suggested just laying it down and slowly pushing out from the middle. Voila! It worked.
For toppings, I just used whatever we had in the fridge, which turned out to be tomatoes, spinach, and onions. I did caramelize the onions though for a little extra flavor. We also didn't have any pizza sauce or the ingredients to make any. But, we did have a jar of spaghetti sauce. I cooked it down to reduce it and make it thicker.
The finished pizzas were delicious and the crust was crisp and chewy, just as it should be. The spaghetti sauce gave it a little different flavor, but we didn't mind one bit. Slice after slice disappeared. G'bye store-bought pizza.
Pizza Crust (King Arthur Flour)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast or instant yeast (I used 1 pkg. yeast)
7/8 to 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water (I used 7/8 cup)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. salt (I decreased this to 1 tsp.)
1) If you're using active dry yeast, dissolve it, with a pinch of sugar, in 2 tablespoons of the lukewarm water. Let the yeast and water sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the mixture has bubbled and expanded. If you're using instant yeast, you can skip this step.
2) Combine the dissolved yeast (or the instant yeast) with the remainder of the ingredients. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you've made a soft, smooth dough. If you're kneading in a stand mixer, it should take 4 to 5 minutes at second speed, and the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl, perhaps sticking a bit at the bottom. Don't over-knead the dough; it should hold together, but can still look fairly rough on the surface.
3) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow it to rise till it's very puffy. This will take about an hour using instant yeast, or 90 minutes using active dry. If it takes longer, that's OK; just give it some extra time.
4) Decide what size, shape, and thickness of pizza you want to make. This recipe will make one of the following choices:
Two 1/2"-thick 14" round pizzas
Two 3/4"-thick 12" round pizzas;
One 3/4" to 1"-thick 13" x 18" rectangular (Sicilian-style) pizza
One 1 1/2"-thick 9" x 13" rectangular pizza;
One 1"-thick 14" round pizza.
5) Divide the dough in half, for two pizzas; or leave it whole for one pizza.
6) If you're making a rectangular pizza, shape the dough into a rough oval. For a round pizza, shape it into a rough circle. In either case, don't pat it flat; just stretch it briefly into shape. Allow the dough to rest, covered with an overturned bowl or lightly greased plastic wrap, for 15 minutes.
7) Use vegetable oil pan spray to lightly grease the pan(s) of your choice. Drizzle olive oil into the bottom of the pan(s). The pan spray keeps the pizza from sticking; the olive oil gives the crust great flavor and crunch.
8) Place the dough in the prepared pan(s). Press it over the bottom of the pan, stretching it towards the edges. You'll probably get about two-thirds of the way there before the dough starts shrinking back; walk away for 15 minutes. Cover the dough while you're away, so it doesn't dry out.
9) When you come back, you should be able to pat the dough closer to the corners of the pan. Repeat the rest and dough-stretch one more time, if necessary; your goal is to get the dough to fill the pan as fully as possible.
10) Allow the dough to rise, covered, till it's noticeably puffy, about 90 minutes (mine took 30 min.). Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 450°F.
11) Bake the pizza on the lower oven rack till it looks and feels set on top, and is just beginning to brown around the edge of the crust, but is still pale on top. This will take about 8 minutes for thinner crust pizza; about 10 to 12 minutes for medium thickness; and 12 to 14 minutes for thick-crust pizza. If you're baking two pizzas, reverse them in the oven (top to bottom, bottom to top) midway through the baking period.
12) Remove it from the oven, and arrange your toppings of choice on top. Return to the oven, and bake on the upper oven rack for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned, both top and bottom, and the cheese is melted. Check it midway through, and move it to the bottom rack if the top is browning too much, or the bottom not enough.
13) Remove the pizza from the oven, and transfer it from the pan to a rack to cool slightly before serving. For easiest serving, cut with a pair of scissors.