I never thought this day would come.
I never thought that I - a stubborn believer that the words "homemade" and "pizza" should never be juxtapose - would be sharing a recipe for just that.
I cannot give you a true percentage, but if I had to guess, I would wager that at least 85 percent of my dates with Mr. Pedantic have involved pizza.
I had tasted very few good pizzas as a child. My parents were never pizza fanatics, so most of my exposure had been through delivery pizza, or, though I cringe to admit it, frozen pizza. *insert the sound of a thousand Italian hearts breaking*
It was only when I tasted a true, brick-oven-baked New York pizza that the romance began. From then on, my love for the tri-fold delicacy only increased.
I eventually became acquainted with the best family-owned shops in my area, those that I could call upon when the cravings demanded. I never really considered homemade pizza because I did not believe that it could compare with those cooked in commercial ovens. After all, my entire relationship with pizza had stemmed from that hallowed brick-oven distinction. Without a brick oven, or some version of it, how could one hope to create a proper pie?
My stance had been firm for years. Pizza was something I bought from a trusted establishment, and I would not attempt to improve upon it. It was one of the very few things I had left alone.
It was not until I was gifted this pizza stone that I decided to give homemade pizza a chance. My hopes were far from high, my knowledge little, but I was now armed with the perfect weapon and my very own "pizza oven."
Here is why I fell in love with this pizza stone and, coincidentally, homemade pizza.
What those beloved commercial brick ovens offer is an exceptionally hot surface. Not just a hot oven, but a hot surface, which translates to a very crisp bottom crust that will stand up to the moisture of the sauce and the weight of our various cheeses. I firmly believe that if you cannot pick up the slice of pizza without it falling apart, the crust is shoddy. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
A pizza stone gives the cook the chance to recreate that ultimate brick-oven atmosphere by pre-heating the stone. The stone is heated in a 500 degree oven before we begin pizza construction. By the time we have layered our toppings, the bottom of the crust has already baked.
My first attempt was astounding enough to win my favor, but after a great many rounds of taste-testing, I found a couple of ways to improve upon the humble homemade pies.
Here’s what I have learned about pizza craft.
THE CRUST - the three b’s
- Bread flour. I found that replacing a third of the all-purpose flour in my original recipe with bread flour produced a chewier crust that adds a heartiness to the pizza itself.
- Be generous with the fat. Some crust recipes ignore a fat component all together, but I found that adding a fair amount of olive oil gives the crust a richer and more buttery flavor.
- Brushing. I cannot overstate the significance that a simple brushing of garlic oil adds to a pizza crust. Mr. Pedantic and I squabble over the bits of leftover crusts now because it's basically garlic bread.
The sauce should be simple and cooked minimally. I do not believe that a sauce that has been simmered all day has any place on a pizza. I prefer to maintain that fresh tomato flavor as much as possible.
The cheeses should be present but not overwhelming. And yes, the perfect pizza requires multiple cheeses, but take a hand from your good friend Joe (Trader Joe, that is), and knock out four of the five required with his bags of Quattro Formaggio. Its a pre-shredded mix of Fontina, Parmesan, Provolone, and Asiago and it's a pizza-maker's secret weapon.
As for the toppings, well, that is entirely up to you. I have become partial to crispy bacon and sautéed mushrooms, but Mr. Pedantic insists upon pepperoni. He's charmingly predictable that way.
Goodbye delivery boy. Hello 24/7 pizza service.
This post was not sponsored in any way. All opinions stated are completely my own, as always! Thank you for being here!
Our Favorite Homemade Pizza
makes two, 9-inch pizzas (about 4 servings) // crust recipe adapted from Tyler Florence
for the sauce
This recipe will make far more sauce than you actually need for the pizzas, but it is excellent as pasta sauce or a wonderful dipping sauce for my favorite - mozzarella sticks.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1, 28oz can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2-3 teaspoons granulated sugar
Heat olive oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and has just started to brown.
Add canned tomatoes all at once, along with kosher salt. Bring the tomatoes to a simmer then reduce heat and cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes.
Stir in sugar to taste and season with additional salt, if you wish. Puree using an immersion blender or stand blender. At this point the sauce can be refrigerated and stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
for the crust
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup bread flour
Combine warm water and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer and sprinkle yeast over the top; stir just to combine. Allow the mixture to sit, untouched, for five minutes. The yeast should look frothy.
Fit the mixer with the dough hook attachment, then add olive oil and kosher salt to the yeast mixture. Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly incorporate the flours. When the dough has just begun to come together, increase the speed to medium and knead for five minutes. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl, forming a rough ball.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead several times, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a tight ball and place in a well-oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, dry place to rise for one hour.
While the dough is rising, prepare your toppings.
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees and place a pizza stone on the center rack.
When the dough has doubled in size, divide into two equal pieces and shape into two roughly 9-inch rounds.
Brush the heated pizza stone with a bit of olive oil and place the first crust directly onto the preheated stone. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the sauce in the center, spreading it evenly over the crust, and leaving about a 1/2-inch “wall” around the edges.
for the cheese
- 2 cups Trader Joe's Quattro Formaggio shredded cheese blend
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese over each pizza and scatter with fresh mozzarella.
for the toppings
Toppings are, of course, completely up to you, but these are my favorite. You will want to prepare your toppings while the crust is rising, not after!
- 4 bacon rashers, diced
- 6 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- brushing oil (1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil + 1 teaspoon garlic salt)
In a small, nonstick frying pan, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and reserve for later use. Then, add the mushrooms to the bacon renderings, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 8-12 minutes; until the mushrooms have browned evenly.
Sprinkle the prepared mushrooms and crisp bacon over the layer of cheese.
Bake each pizza for 10-15 minutes, until the crust is deep golden and the cheese is bubbling. As soon as you remove your pizza from the oven, brush the edges of exposed crust with the prepared garlic oil.
Allow the pizzas to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!