To preface: making homemade pizza from scratch is 100% worth the mess.
As I have mentioned previously, making pizza has been a consistent family tradition in my parents’ house. My mom would typically prepare the dough early on a Saturday afternoon. It would sit in a metal mixing bowl (not the metal mixing bowl commonly used for the stomach bug, just to be clear…it was the other metal mixing bowl) all day long, rising into a perfectly plump mound, just waiting to be needed and kneaded. Around the same time, the marinara sauce simmered on the stove. To this day, I can close my eyes and taste my Mom’s homemade sauce; and so, I can make it from scratch without a recipe.
Later on in the evening, the music would get turned on and up. In our family, music and food are the tie that binds us. From James Taylor, to Jackson Brown, Nirvana, Asleep at the Wheel, and always, Jerry Jeff Walker, music was essential while making pizza, or any meal for that matter. While the pizza would bake in the oven, I was probably one of the only young girls in Southern Indiana two-stepping in the kitchen with her old man.
The following recipe and suggestions follow the same simple basics from my childhood:
- Thin, hand tossed crust
- Savory, spicy marinara
- Meat lovers pizza
- Veggie lovers pizza
Just like my momma, I make the dough and sauce earlier on in the day. Both tasks are easy enough, just a bit more tedious. I’m also limited to a tiny space so I am ADAMANT (or crazy, whatever) about cleaning up as I go. My father is the same way, making that, quite possible, the one thing we agree on. Joke! Tip for life: making things ahead of time allows me to keep a clean and tidy tiny kitchen.
So, here we dough…
You only need a small amount of water, but it needs to be warm, hot to the touch! Add one packet of dry yeast and set aside, letting it dissolve. Again, because my space is so small, my appliances are small too, due to lack of storage. I have a small Ninja mixer/processor that I use for EVERYTHING. Literally, I use it three different times in this one recipe. In the processor, blend together the flour, salt, sugar and a tiny pinch of truffle salt because, I’m fancy like that. Slowly add the yeast to the processor until you have sticky dough! Obviously, this would all be easier with a nice Kitchen Aid mixer, like my parents have, but use those arm muscles! Knead the dough on a little bit of flour for a few minutes. I line the inside of a mixing bowl with olive oil, place the dough inside, and cover with a tea towel. It needs to be left for at least an hour and a half! If it has doubled in volume and your finger imprint stays when you push on it, it should be good to go.
A saucy girl like me loves marinara. I make my own marinara pretty regularly, even if its just semi homemade, spicing up a store-bought jar. So, reminiscing the past, I thought of Amy, my little sister, because she always hated “chunky” sauce. Since I was cooking with a friend’s son tonight, I reverted back to my sister at his age, hating chunks in her sauce. So I ran the garlic and onion through a couple rough chops of my Ninja to make it less chunky. Unlike my mother, I will not forgo the onions for any child. Putting that in the pan on medium, my mom is saying, in my head, “don’t burn the garlic!” Next, add the tomatoes and herbs. I also rough chopped the leaves from my herbs in the Ninja (see, literally, everything…best tiny tool ever). Let the sauce come to a quick boil, turn it to a low simmer, and let it sit. And sit. And sit. The longer, the better!
With the dough and sauce finished, I had time to watch some Hulu, fold some laundry, and test the marinara on some leftover spaghetti squash. Cruse and I even had time to take Moon to the dog park for 45 minutes. As soon as we got back, hands were washed and the pizza assembling commenced. This meal is absolutely the most appropriate, engaging, and rewarding for kids to get involved with. Heck, it’s hands-on and its MESSY! I taught kindergarten long enough to know that makes for a home run in the fun zone. Roll out the dough, add the sauce, and give them the choice for toppings!
As for toppings, growing up, we always made a meat pizza (aka the kid pizza) and a veggie/supreme pizza (aka the grown up pizza). As I got older, the adult pizza appealed to my senses because, isn’t it strange how one day zucchini makes you gag and the next day you love it? I prefer to have all of the topping choices out and ready to go because its easier to grab and go, to add without inhibitions. If you want that red onion, add that red onion. Don’t hesitate, friend!
OH! I almost forgot to mention, when we first started getting the stuff ready to cook, I began pre-heating the oven. 450 degrees = HOT in a small, historic (I prefer that to old because it sounds cooler) kitchen. Anyways, crank up the AC and fans because Texas summers are unreal. I cooked one pizza at a time, because my oven is also historic (old) and testy. Each pizza goes in for a good 15 minutes, sits for another 10, or so and YOU have fresh, homemade pizza! If only you could have experienced making it with my wild and crazy family on a Saturday night….
It was a successful night! I missed my parents, but I think I honored the tradition well. The pizza turned out great and, I mean, all we had to do was leave for some ice cream to let the house cool. Problem solved! Special thanks to Cruser for being a part of my project. “What’s a blog, anyways? Is it for school or something?”
varying toppings of your choice (meat, cheese, veggies, etc.)
For the Dough
3/4 cups of warm water
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 cups of all purpose flour (plus more for kneading and rolling)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of truffle salt (optional)
4 tablespoons of olive oil (for dough to rise in)
For the Sauce
2 12 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion
2 cups of fresh basil
4 sprigs of fresh oregano*
4 sprigs of fresh thyme*
1 Bay leaf
1 tablespoon of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
*Rough measurement here. Also trying to convert a few dashes of the dry stuff into actual measurements so…stay tuned…)
Pre heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
Pre cut your veg – always!
Cook any meat ahead according to packaged instructions
For the Dough
Pour 1 envelope of active dry yeast into warm water, set aside until dissolved.
Combine flour, sugar, and salt until well mixed
Slowly add yeast and mix well until a sticky dough is formed
Add a small amount of flour to smooth, dry cooking surface
Knead the dough by pushing in with the palm and heel of your hands, turning 90 degrees, folding in half, and repeating. Knead until dough is smooth.
Brush a large bowl with olive oil
Place dough in bowl, coating with olive oil
Cover and let sit for 1 1/2 to 2 hours
For the Sauce
Coat the bottom of a medium sauce pan with olive oil and heat to medium
Finely mince 5 cloves of garlic and chop onion
Remove leaves from stems of oregano and thyme
Finely chop basil, oregano and thyme
Saute the garlic and onion until translucent, about 3 minutes
Add two cans of crushed tomatoes and stir
Add chopped herbs and stir
Add bay leaf (to be removed after cooking)
Add salt and pepper to taste
Bring sauce to a boil and then return to a low simmer for at least 20 minutes
Once the dough has doubled in volume
Punch down the dough and remove it from bowl (if splitting, use a knife to cut, do not tear apart)
Add flour to a smooth, dry surface and to rolling pin
Gently begin rolling out the dough, starting with the center and working outward towards the edges
(I like to fold down edges to make crust, but you can simple leave the edges that have not been rolled over by the pin)
Spread corn meal onto a cooking sheet or stone, and gently transfer the dough
Add marinara sauce and spread out towards edges, leaving a crust
Add your toppings! Mix it up! Be original! BE YOU! 🙂
Top with cheese
Bake for 15 minutes, or until crust is golden. You can use a toothpick to test the center for doneness.
Let pizza sit for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing
This recipe for dough is good for 1 medium-large pizza, or 2 smaller pizzas. Simple make 2 batches for 2 pizzas! Avoid over rolling and kneading the dough after it has risen.
I add a pinch of this and a dash of that to my marinara while it cooks. As I’m tasting it, I notice it may need more of a certain flavor. Often, I keep the dry version of all of the herbs on hand and add more of each where needed. Salt and pepper are also your best friends. Growing up, my sister was the master taste tester and she was always pretty good. Marinara is certainly a personal preference, where taste is involved. I have offered a simple recipe. But take chances while making it your own. If you taste it and onion salt comes to mind, add onion salt!