A couple weeks ago, Nikki got me the Pizza Edition of Popular Plates magazine (go pick it up for yourself), which inspired me to set a goal for myself to learn how to make the best homemade pizza imaginable (and I can imagine quite a bit). So after ample supplementary research, I settled on a crust and sauce recipe from the magazine (combined with a few additional tips culled from the internet) and we collected the ingredients necessary for the 2-day process(!) we were about to embark on. What follows is a pictorial journey through the pizza-making so you can make some fantastic homemade pizza on your own!
By the way, I couldn’t have accomplished any of this without the encouragement and cooking prowess of my beautiful wife. She has been so incredibly supportive of my love for pizza, as evidenced by this post on her blog here, and she made her own pizza along with me that you can see the recipe for here.
Neapolitan Crust (adapted from p. 72):
1 package dry yeast
1 cup warm water
≈ 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil (+ additional olive oil to coat the bowl after kneading)
Cornmeal for pizza stone
1) Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup of water while you mix the rest of the water in with 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 2 teaspoons of salt. After the yeast is proofed, mix it in with the flour mixture. Stir it well and once it begins to form into a ball, turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Give it a sec to sit there (this is a good time to clean the bowl you were using and coat the sides and bottom with a sufficient amount of olive oil.
2) Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough on the well-floured surface (adding flour as you go whenever the dough becomes sticky). Knead it for 15 minutes, adding the 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the dough mixture while working it well until it is a good silky consistency. Then work it into a ball and place in the bowl, covered loosely with plastic wrap so air can circulate a little. Place it in the refrigerator and let it rise for approximately 24 hours.
To be continued below… (The next afternoon we made the sauce before we finished the dough preparation.)
Thin-Crust Tomato (adapted from p. 75):
6 ounces tomato paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 14.5 ounce cans of Italian stewed tomatoes
½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
4 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
1 cup water
sprinkling of salt
* Note: This makes enough sauce for 2 pizzas, so if you are just making 1, halve the recipe. Also, it had a bit of a kick to it because of the red pepper flakes, so if you don’t like any spiciness, then leave out that step.
3) Puree the stewed tomatoes (I used a Magic Bullet) and put them in a large saucepan. Add the tomato paste and olive oil and stir together over a medium heat.
4) Dice the onion and measure out the other ingredients, adding them to the saucepan. Once the mixture begins to boil and splatter, reduce it to a low heat to simmer. Allow it to cook for 3 hours to allow all of the ingredients to really reach peak flavorfulness. The recipe called for 2 cups of water, but we decided that we didn’t want the sauce to turn out too runny.
Pizza Margherita (adapted from p. 86):
1/8 cup of butter
1 clove of minced garlic
1 whole clove of garlic
¼ pound of fresh-cut pepperoni
¼ pound of whole-milk sliced mozzarella cheese
4 leaves of fresh basil
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
Crust & Toppings Directions (Part 2):
5) Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, punching it down and flattening it with the heel of your palm. Alternately, lift the dough up and stretch it out carefully, working the dough into a circular disc approximately 15 inches wide. Form the collar of the crust around the edge.
6) Sprinkle the pizza stone with cornmeal and place it in the oven. Preheat to 500° F. Gather all of the toppings you are going to use.
7) Place the butter and the minced garlic in a bowl. Melt in the microwave and mix together into a garlic butter spread. Lightly brush the entire surface of the crust with the spread. Peel the whole clove of garlic, breaking it into small pieces and place on the top of the crust.
8) Once the oven is preheated, use oven mittens to remove the pizza stone and place on the counter on hot pads (I did all of this because I did not have a baker’s peel). Gently place your dough on the pizza stone. Quickly top it with your chosen toppings. For me, this meant first spooning out the sauce to cover the entire pizza up to the crust collar. Then I pulled apart the slices of mozzarella and tore pieces to cover the entire pizza. I added the pepperonis next and then tore the basil leaves into pieces and placed them on top. Lastly I sprinkled the parmesan cheese across the top.
9) Using the oven mittens, place the pizza in the oven and bake for anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it, watching for the crust to turn lightly brown and the cheese to be fully melted and cooked. Remove and cut into slices.
Quite frankly, this was the best homemade pizza I have ever tasted. The crust was doughy delicious, the sauce was incredibly flavorful and a little bit spicy, and the toppings were top-notch. It was at least equal to most restaurant pizzas I’ve tasted. It needs a little bit of tinkering to get it right, but someday I will perfect things so it actually exceeds the taste of restaurant pizza (or at least, that is my goal). Give it a try and make some for yourself! Yeah, it is a time commitment, but it will be worth it, I promise. To see an indepth visual look at my pizza-making adventure, check out the photo album below.