Homemade Pizza

What to do when your 8-year old nephew comes to visit? Make pizza, of course! Well, not of course, actually. I didn’t think of it until we exhausted Sorry, Monopoly, and gin rummy. But it did turn out to be a brilliant idea as dad had just received a baking stone for Christmas, and my nephew Austin loves pizza. I told him if he helped me make it and didn’t make too many faces I would put him on my website and he would be famous. That seemed to get his attention. He thought the dough was “slimy and gross” but he loved picking his own toppings, and the finished product was “awesome”. The following method I patched together from recipes in both Joy of Cooking and Cook’s Illustrated’s The Best Recipe. I made two batches of dough, four pizzas in all, with varied toppings. Next time I’ll be a bit more patient with stretching out the dough so I can get it even thinner. Look to the end of this post for some excellent links about pizza from other food bloggers.

Homemade Pizza Recipe

  • Prep time: 2 hours
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 2 10-12-inch pizzas.

Pizza dough is a yeasted dough which requires active dry yeast. Make sure the check the expiration date on the yeast package.

You can use all purpose flour instead of the bread flour that is called for in the recipe, but bread flour is higher in gluten than all-purpose flour and will make a crispier crust for your pizza.

Yum

Ingredients

Pizza Dough: Makes enough dough for two 10-12 inch pizzas

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (105°F-115°F)
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) of active dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Pizza Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • Cornmeal (to help slide the pizza onto the pizza stone)
  • Tomato sauce (smooth, or puréed)
  • Mozzarella cheese, grated
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • Bell peppers, stems and seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • Italian sausage, cooked ahead and crumbled
  • Chopped fresh basil
  • Pesto
  • Pepperoni, thinly sliced
  • Onions, thinly sliced
  • Ham, thinly sliced

Special equipment needed

  • A pizza stone, highly recommended if you want crispy pizza crust
  • A pizza peel or a flat baking sheet
  • A pizza wheel for cutting the pizza, not required, but easier to deal with than a knife

Method

Making the Pizza Dough

1 Place the warm water in the large bowl of a heavy duty stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let it sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved. After 5 minutes stir if the yeast hasn't dissolved completely. The yeast should begin to foam, which indicates that it is still active and alive.

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2 Using the mixing paddle attachment, mix in the flour, salt, sugar, and olive oil on low speed for a minute. Then replace the mixing paddle with the dough hook attachment. Knead the pizza dough on low to medium speed using the dough hook until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

If you don't have a mixer, you can mix the ingredients together and knead them by hand.

If the dough seems a little too wet, sprinkle it with a little more flour.

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3 Spread a thin layer of olive oil over the inside of a large bowl. Place the pizza dough in the bowl and turn it around so that it gets coated with the oil. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place (75-85°F) until it doubles in size, at least 1 to 1 1/2 hours. You can let it sit for several hours if you want. The longer rise will improve the flavor of the pizza crust. If you don't have a warm spot in the house you can heat the oven to 150 degrees, and then turn off the oven. Let the oven cool till it is just a little warm, then place the bowl of dough in this warmed oven to rise.

At this point, if you want to make ahead, you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Preparing the Pizzas

1 Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour.

2 Remove the plastic cover from the dough and punch the dough down so it deflates a bit. Divide the dough in half. Form two round balls of dough. Place each in its own bowl, cover with plastic and let sit for 10 minutes.

3 Prepare your desired toppings. Note that you are not going to want to load up each pizza with a lot of toppings as the crust will end up not crisp that way. About a third a cup each of tomato sauce and cheese would be sufficient for one pizza. One to two mushrooms thinly sliced will cover a pizza.

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4 Working one ball of dough at a time, take one ball of dough and flatten it with your hands on a slightly floured work surface. Starting at the center and working outwards, use your fingertips to press the dough to 1/2-inch thick. Turn and stretch the dough until it will not stretch further. Let the dough relax 5 minutes and then continue to stretch it until it reaches the desired diameter - 10 to 12 inches. Use your palm to flatten the edge of the dough where it is thicker. You can pinch the very edges if you want to form a lip.

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5 Brush the top of the dough with olive oil (to prevent it from getting soggy from the toppings). Use your finger tips to press down and make dents along the surface of the dough to prevent bubbling. Let rest another 5 minutes.

Repeat with the second ball of dough.

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6 Lightly sprinkle your pizza peel (or flat baking sheet) with corn meal. Transfer one prepared flattened dough to the pizza peel. If the dough has lost its shape in the transfer, lightly shape it to the desired dimensions.

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7 Spoon on the tomato sauce, sprinkle with cheese, and place your desired toppings on the pizza.

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8 Sprinkle some cornmeal on the baking stone in the oven (watch your hands, the oven is hot!). Gently shake the peel to see if the dough will easily slide, if not, gently lift up the edges of the pizza and add a bit more cornmeal. Slide the pizza off of the peel and on to the baking stone in the oven. Bake pizza one at a time until the crust is browned and the cheese is golden, about 10-15 minutes. If you want, toward the end of the cooking time you can sprinkle on a little more cheese.

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Links:

The Ultimate Guide to Making Homemade Pizza from Macheesmo

Potato Pizza from Susan the Food Blogga

Three Onion and Three Cheese Pizza from Farmgirl Fare

Cilantro Chili Pizza from Brownie Points

Perfect pizzas from Sean of Hedonia

Best Pizza Dough Ever from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks

Luzzo's and the Quest for the Perfect Pizza essay by Jeanne of Cook Sister

Rustic vegetarian pizzas with whole wheat crust from Stefania of CityMama

10 steps to painless pizza making - useful tips from Deb of Smitten Kitchen

Homemade Pizza (photo)

Showing 4 of 131 Comments

  • lydia

    We love to do pizza for parties — especially pizza on the grill. My friend Mary taught me a great method: make the dough a few hours ahead of time, and portion it into single-person pizzas. Roll each portion of dough into a little ball, and place it in an oiled muffin tin. When it’s time for cooking, give each person a dough ball to stretch out to the size and shape they want, and set up toppings to mix and match.

  • Chris Biagini

    Excellent recipe, and very similar to my grandmother’s. My girlfriend and I often make this for guests and it’s always a hit. The dough is great for bread and foccacia, as well.

    For bread, we shape it into loaves and spray it with a fine mist of water a few times during the first ten minutes in the oven, to keep the crust from drying out too much. Bread will usually take about 20 minutes to cook at 450 degrees.

    For focaccia, we top the dough with a good amount of olive oil and kosher salt. Great for sandwiches. Optionally, you can mix raisins into the dough. Focaccia with raisins often gets more praise than our pizza.

  • Robin

    I make pizza a lot, but I buy the crust mix at the store.
    This would probably taste a lot better though! I use canned pineapple (drained) and red pepper strips(don’t buy the Vlassic brand, they are terrible) and I keep turkey pepperoni on hand.

  • Alain Roy

    I’ve made homemade pizza for a long time: it’s a staple in our household.

    I don’t have a baking stone to bake it on, but after a fair amount of experimentation, I came up with a simple but good technique for making crusty pizza in a standard pizza pan.

    I roll out the pizza into a circle, place it in the pan, and make a nice edging (just fold it over neatly). Then I rub it with a small amount of olive oil and prick it with a fork, then bake the crust by itself for about 5 minutes. I take it out, top it, and then bake it for 8-10 minutes longer.

    After the first baking, the pizza crust is not fully cooked, but has hardened enough to keep the toppings from making it too soggy. (Lots of mushrooms can still mess with this.) The olive oil seems to help seal it up a bit.

    I’ve consistently made pretty good pizza with this technique, and my house hasn’t been crowded up with a pizza stone.

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