I can’t count the number of times I crave pizza weekly. But I don’t often give into my cravings for two reasons: there’s only one pizza place in Chicago that’s up to my taste (I hear the gasps already, but deep dish is not my thing) and buying a frozen pizza never results in a favorable experience. In order to appease my budget and my cravings, I decided it was time to finally make a homemade pizza from scratch. I’ve done this before, but it involved store bought dough. Pre-made dough usually does result in a delicious pizza, but these days I don’t really buy pre-made anything for a long list of reasons. That being said, it does take some patience to make your own pizza dough, but it is well worth the wait. If you’ve never made your own pizza completely from scratch, plan ahead. It takes about two hours for the dough to rise and double in size. If you plan ahead, you can put your pizza dough in the fridge while you’re at work or overnight. The cold slows down the rise, so it may need a full eight hours in your fridge before the dough has doubled. However, I’ve been told a long rise results in a more complex flavor. Once your dough is ready to go, roll it out with a rolling pin. Should you not have a rolling pin, you can even use an empty wine bottle. Fortunately for me, the mister has pro skills in hand stretching pizza dough. Thank you to that after school job in high school. Top with your homemade pizza sauce, recipe follows, and top with your choice of toppings. Pop in an oven hot enough to melt your eyelashes, and ten minutes later you’ll have a little slice of happiness.
This pizza was very good, with pockets of warm goat cheese and caramelized onions. Even though I was really pleased with this pizza, I’d like to experiment a little more with this recipe. Next, I’d like to try bread flour in the pizza dough instead of all-purpose flour. Bread flour has a higher gluten level, so this produces a stretchier, chewier crust. And I do love a chewy, thin crust pizza. I also recently received a pizza dough recipe that does not use any yeast at all. This means no waiting next time that pizza craving strikes. What a nice proposition!
adapted from Smitten Kitchen via Mario Batali
I doubled this recipe to yield two small pizzas, enough to serve 2-3 people.
3/4 cup warm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more water)
4 tablespoons white wine
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups flour
Cornmeal for sprinkling
Flour for dusting counter
For each pizza:
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup baby spinach
1/3 cup onion, thinly sliced
6-8 slices of goat cheese
Whisk wine, water and yeast in a medium bowl until yeast has dissolved. Add honey, salt and olive oil and stir. Add flour and no matter how dry it looks, work it with a spoon and your fingers until it comes together as a dough. Add more water one tablespoon at a time if you need.
Sprinkle some flour on the counter and knead the dough for a minute or two. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise for an hour or up to two, until it is doubled.
[Easiest way to tell if a dough has risen enough? Dip two fingers in flour, press them into the dough, and if the impression stays, it’s good to go. If it pops back, let it go until it doesn’t.]
Meanwhile, make some sauce, recipe below.
Preheat your oven to its highest temperature. If you have a pizza stone, sprinkle it with cornmeal and put it in the oven to preheat the stone. Otherwise, sprinkle a baking sheet with the same.
Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured counter and gently deflate the dough with the palm of your hands. Form it into a ball and let it rest on a floured spot covered with an upside down bowl. In 15 minutes, it is ready to roll out or stretch by hand.
Roll out on a floured counter until pretty thin, then lift it onto a cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet or stone. Add pizza sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, spinach, onion and goat cheese. Place pizza in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, checking at 8 minutes. My oven cooks very slowly, so it took my pizza about 15 minutes to achieve a golden brown crust. Slice and serve immediately.
adapted from smitten kitchen
14 ounces crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste, preference is the double concentrate paste in tube form
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Splash of white wine
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
Pour in olive oil in a sauce pan and let it heat completely before adding the garlic and stirring it for a minute with a wooden spoon. Add the red pepper flakes and stir it for anther minute. You do not want the garlic to brown. Put the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste in the pot, along with the wine, sugar and salt, stirring to combine.
Let the sauce simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, letting the flavors meld. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.