Pizza is one of our favorite foods. The kids love it just as much as we do--a rare find! but it's bread and cheese, so is that really surprising? Who doesn't love pizza?
But homemade pizza can be a bit tricky. I remember as a kid, I dreaded pizza night. Thick, bready crust, sweet tomato sauce and cheddar cheese topped with ground beef...as a kid, I really hated it. As I type that, it doesn't sound too bad anymore, probably because I'm hungry, but for me, I love my pizza crust thin and a bit crispy, with a slightly spicy (and not sweet!) sauce, mozzarella, parm, and lots of chopped veggies.
It took Shaun and I years--really, years!--to find our perfect pizza recipe. My friend Merrick has a really awesome blog, and our pizza recipe has been slightly adapted from the epic recipe she posted a while back. It's the best homemade pizza ever, I promise.
- 1 cup hot tap water
- 1 Tablespoon yeast
- 2 cups whole wheat flour (or all purpose if you prefer)
- 2 Tablespoons vital wheat gluten
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings (or dried basil or oregano)
- Stir yeast into hot water and let sit for 10 minutes to proof.
- Stir in vital wheat gluten, salt, seasonings and flour, and knead for about 5-7 minutes (or let it mix in a standing mixer with the dough attachment).
- Pour a bit of olive oil onto the top of the dough after kneading and turn it over to grease the entire ball of dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for at least 30 minutes.
- After the dough has rested for at least 30 minutes, divide it into two. Roll out thin into a circle shape, and fold and pinch edges down to make a crust.
- About 2 cups canned tomatoes, drained (I use home-jarred tomatoes. Diced or whole is fine.)
- 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 (scant) teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper
- Place all of the sauce ingredients in a blender and pulse until everything is well-combined.
Assembling your pizza:
- Spread sauce over your prepared crust and top each pizza with grated mozzarella cheese. We use about 1/2 cup for each pizza.
- Then top it with your favorite toppings. (Our favorite toppings: sliced black olives, bell peppers, red onion, fresh herbs like basil and cilantro and whenever possible mushrooms. We also like sausage, but we don't make it very often.)
- We use a few tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan cheese to finish it off. It somehow helps keep everything from burning weird on top.
- If you want a nice crisp crust, bake at 500 degrees for 10-12 minutes. If you'd like a slightly crisp crust that's still softer inside bake it at 450 for 12 minutes. (That's how Shaun likes it. i prefer the crisper crust.) For best results you want to cook your pizza on the lowest rack possible in your oven.
Variations: We have tried barbecue sauce and pesto sauce instead of the traditional tomato sauce, and both are amazing. We aren't too adventurous with cheese--we always use mozzarella over the sauce and then top all of the toppings off with freshly grated parmesan.
- Barbecue sauce goes well with grilled chicken and pineapple atop the mozzarella. Mushrooms, onions and fresh cilantro are also great additions.
- Pesto is good with grilled chicken too, as well as thinly sliced tomatoes, black olives, mushrooms, and fresh basil.
Note: If you don't have a pizza stone, you can flip over a cookie sheet so it's upside down and cook your pizza on top of that. The way the air circulates under it cooks it well that way, although use a stone if you have one. Either way, I suggest cooking your pizza on parchment paper for minimal mess and for a nice, crispy crust.