I am a huge fan of homemade pizza, but for some reason I always dread the work of preparing it. Despite the fact that homemade pizza is very easy to prepare, the idea of picking one of these up and having someone else do the work for me is much more appealing.
Pizza is a favorite food of the whole family though so when I do go to the trouble of making the dough and sauce, I make sure that I have enough for (at least) a couple of other night’s worth of meals.
With this in mind, I will share with you my favorite pizza dough recipe and then share with you the experiment I decided to undergo last night in making a pizza.
Amy’s Favorite Pizza Dough
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 ½ cups warm water
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup whole wheat flour
5 ½ cups bread flour
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water. Let sit until creamy (approximately ten minutes). Stir the olive oil, whole wheat flour, salt, and four cups of the bread flour into the yeast mixture. Mix in the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out into a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about eight minutes. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and put in a warm place (I set this bowl in my oven) to rise until doubled in volume; about one hour. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and form into rounds. Cover the rounds and let them rest for about ten minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Shape your dough using a rolling pin and top with your favorite toppings. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese and crust is golden brown.
This pizza dough actually yields enough for three pizzas. I use this dough when making pizza for a large amount of people, or if I want to freeze dough for later use.
This dough can be frozen in a couple of different ways. I have frozen the dough balls in freezer bags and then allowed them to unthaw (within the freezer bag) on the counter until they have come to room temperature. If you are a fan of Boboli pizza crusts (because of the convenience factor) you can also par-bake the pizza crust and store them in your freezer. Simply flour your surface, roll out the dough and bake at 450 degrees for about eight minutes. You will then allow these to cool and then wrap. If you are a frugal gal like me, save the cardboard rounds from your other frozen pizzas and use these for placing under your baked crusts, cover with saran, and freeze them that way. If you chose to par-bake the crusts, just remove them from the freezer, and add your toppings. You can skip the defrosting step altogether and just go straight to baking.
Last night I decided to make the pizza crust in my bread machine instead. The consistency of this dough was more like a foccacia rather than a light & airy pizza dough. It made a very thick crust, but could be lightened by using all-purpose flour (rather than the bread flour). All in all, it was still a good pizza, but my favorite pizza dough still wins, hands down.
Italian Herb Pizza Dough
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2 cups warm water – 110 degrees F/45 degrees C
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
6 cups bread flour
Mix yeast, warm water, and sugar together in your bread machine. Set aside for five minutes, or until mixture becomes foamy. Add the rest of the ingredients and set your machine to dough cycle. Allow it to go through the complete cycle. Remove the dough and then punch down. Roll out onto a floured surface. Place the rolled out dough onto your pizza stone. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese and crust is golden brown.
*If you have a small bread machine (like me!) just halve the recipe for one crust. You could also prepare this with your electric mixer, using your dough hook. Stir olive oil, salt, herbs, garlic powder, onion powder, cheese, and 3 cups flour into the yeast mixture. Gradually mix in the next three cups of flour. Dough will be stiff. Knead dough for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and rubbery. Place in an oiled bowl, and turn to cover the surface of the dough with oil. Cover with a damp linen dish towel. Allow to rise for one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. Punch dough down to release all the air. Then follow steps that are listed above.
This time I also decided that I wanted to try a recipe that I have had in my files for awhile for making my own pizza sauce. I found this copy-cat recipe for Papa John’s Pizza sauce and just had to give it a try. This sauce was perfect- just the right balance of sweetness & spices. It would make a wonderful dipping sauce for breadsticks. I highly recommend giving this sauce a try- I don’t think you will be disappointed. This sauce will make enough for one pizza.
Papa John’s Pizza Sauce
1 can tomato puree (I substituted with crushed tomatoes)
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes.
Yield: 1 cup
I hope these recipes help to inspire you for your next pizza night. This is a great meal to involve the whole family and I haven’t met a kid yet who doesn’t love pizza! Have the kids help put on the toppings or roll out the dough- making pizza can create some really great memories for your kids and for you!