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I make pizza at home once every two weeks and it's usually on a Thursday, because our weekend starts on Friday. We call it 'Pizza Thursday'. Like most kids, both my babies love pizza too.
Why make homemade pizza?
- The only reason we can afford to eat pizza every two weeks is that it's homemade.
- I know exactly what goes into my kids' pizza. The pizza dough is homemade and my tomato sauce is also homemade, so, I'm in control of what ingredients and how much cheese is on that pizza.
- It is fun! especially if you plan ahead and get the kids to dig in.
- There really is no right and wrong with pizza! You can add almost anything you want! Make it your own!
Every pizza needs four components - dough, sauce, cheese, and toppings.
- Dough - while you can get ready-to-use pizza dough, you can just as well make your own in an hour or more.
- Classic pizza dough - needs to be kneaded plus an hour or two for rising and proofing.
- Overnight pizza dough - A softer dough with less yeast that needs overnight proofing. Perfect to plan ahead.
- No-knead pizza dough - For those times when you don't have time to knead. The long rising is what gives this dough its structure.
- Sauce - you can use ready-to-use pizza sauce but you can also make your own and it does not take long.
- 5-minutes pizza sauce - this one is quick and easy mostly using ingredients you already have in your pantry.
- Marinara sauce - a thick marinara sauce is perfect over homemade pizza. Definitely better than one from the jar.
- Fresh tomato sauce - made with fresh tomatoes and one you can use for pizza or pasta.
- Cheese - For my pizzas, I like to use a combination of three kinds of cheese. The classic Parmesan and mozzarella, pus one other such as cheddar, feta, gouda, etc.
- Toppings - The options for this are endless from everything to nothing!
- Classic Margherita pizza - just tomato sauce, cheese, and a few basil leaves - pizza at its best!
- Mushroom pizza - a sprinkle of a combination of mushrooms is perfect if you love mushrooms.
- 3 cheese pizza - a cheese lover's dream. Add any cheese you like!
- White pizza - instead of tomato sauce use a classic bechamel white sauce to give this one a new twist.
- Olives and red onions - a Mediterranean flair with salty olives and onions caramelized on top
- Hawaiian pizza - made with ham and pineapples - kids favorite!
- Pepperoni pizza - nothing says pizza with slices of pepperoni, does it?
- Pesto pizza - topped with red pesto instead of tomato sauce.
Now that we covered the four components, let me share my 10 tips for making amazing homemade pizzas.
1. Pizza stone
You will see a huge difference in your pizza baked on a pizza stone as compared to the baking tray. The pizza stone has the ability to draw out moisture from the dough, which means you get a nice crisp bottom pizza and crusty bread.
Buy a good quality pizza stone that will last you a lifetime. I've been using mine for over 10 years. My oven has changed but not my pizza stone. It looks really shabby because it has baked me many pizzas and bread over the years.
2. Pizza tray or peel
If possible, invest in a pizza tray or a pizza peel. That will help you transfer your pizza to and out of the oven. I have both and I can't think of making pizza without them.
These let you keep the dough soft, so you don't have to struggle with transferring the pizza from one place to the other. Soft dough means a thin and crispy pizza crust.
3. Use parchment paper instead of cornmeal
I know it's very professional to use cornmeal, but I hate the mess it leaves behind. So, I use a parchment paper. I place the parchment paper on my pizza peel and then just slide the parchment onto my pizza stone. After 8 to 10 minutes, I pull the parchment out. This helps crisp the base much better.
4. Soft room temperature dough
Keep the dough soft and elastic and make sure it's room temperature. If the dough is cold, the gluten is much stiffer, which means you won't be able to stretch the dough as easily as the room-temperature dough.
5. Preheat the oven
Preheat the oven for a good 30 minutes before you bake your first pizza. The pizza stone takes longer to heat, so while your preheat indicator may show that your oven has preheated - the stone takes longer to reach that temperature.
The reason you want your pizza stone hot is so that you get that nice bottom crust while still maintaining the softness of the dough on the inside.
6. Too much sauce and toppings
7. Choose the right toppings
Pizza toppings are great but avoid those that will make the base soggy or get burnt. Leaves, such as spinach, are better cooked first then added to the pizza. Similarly, veggies such as mushrooms give out moisture. So, while a few slices are ok, too many mushrooms will give you a very wet pizza.
8. Brush the edges with oil
Often, the pizza edges tend to stay pale even though the bottom is crisp. Brushing the edges will give a nice crisp edge, which is delicious but also looks wonderful. And if you want a crisp pizza crust, then also brush the pizza tray with oil.
9. Let the pizza base rest
After you roll the base, let the dough rest for 5 to 10 minutes. This proves the dough a little giving it that little lift. The edges get puffy and when baked it gets a nice beautiful crust. See that curst?
10. Hold on to the cheese
Do you ever find that often the cheese tends to get dark while we wait for the bottom to get crisper? This happens when you want the bottom crust to be crisper.
I don't usually do this, because I'm happy with just crisp edges and a nice soft base. However, here's a solution for you. Next time, pre-bake your pizza for 7 minutes before you add the cheese. That way you will have a crispy base and your cheese won't get brown.
Video - Homemade pizza
Frequently asked questions
Pizza is always at it's best fresh out of the oven, but it does have a long shelf-life and can be reheated and served again.
Traditionally, tomato sauce is very common. But, I also love to use pesto, BBQ sauce, Alfredo sauce, etc.
Traditionally, mozzarella is used. Personally, I like to use a combination of mozzarella, parmesan, and cheddar or other white cheese.
You can freeze homemade pizza dough. Just punch down the dough and remove as much of the air. then place in a freezer approved zip lock bag and place in the freezer for a month or more.
To thaw, just place the bag in the fridge for a couple of hours before you need to use it. Let it come to room temperature for an hour before you use it.
You can bake the pizza, cut the slices, cool them completely before you place the slices in a ziplock bag. You can freeze these for a long time, but mine have never stayed for more than a week. They make a great snack for kids.
I often make mini pizzas and save them for the kids' school snacks. Freeze and thaw them the same way as the slices above.
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