Before a few years ago, I had never really made homemade pizza. Growing up, pizza was always ordered in, we never made it ourselves. There is certainly a time and place for take-out pizza, and to me, it’s totally different from homemade. But homemade pizza has its time and place too – and it’s less expensive and you can have much more creative liberty with it than takeout.
There are a lot of options in the store these days for pizza dough at home. Dry mixes (like Betty Crocker), refrigerated vacuum-packed (like Pillsbury), pre-baked crusts (like Boboli), or store-made fresh dough (often found near the deli/refrigerated section). I’m sure I’m missing some options, but as you can see, the possibilities are endless.
I personally tend to resort to using the store-made doughs or making my own. I’m not a huge fan of pre-baked crusts like Boboli, but I do like using store-bought Naan as a crust sometimes. Generally, I usually like to use whole wheat dough, which I can usually find available in the store-made dough selection. Sometimes it’s not available though, so making my own is the best option. This also ensures that I know what’s in the crust, and it allows me to customize the flavor a little more too. It does obviously take a little more time, but not much. Making pizza dough is simple, but it certainly feels impressive, so I’d definitely encourage you to try it (just like making homemade pasta - but this is actually even easier than that!).
I think one of the other reasons I hadn’t made homemade pizza before a few years ago was that I didn’t know what sort of pan to use to bake a pizza at home. Then, one of my aunts bought me a pizza stone, like this, as a birthday present, and that changed everything :). But, you can also use a pizza pan like this or like this. If all else fails, you can use a heavy-duty cookie sheet. There are a few things to remember when using a pizza stone, so make sure to read the directions (For example, you have to put the stone in a cold oven, then turn it on to preheat so the stone doesn’t crack. Also, you can’t use soap to wash it, and depending on your stone, you may or may not be able to use a pizza cutter directly on the stone).
The pizza dough recipe below could be used to make any pizza you want – I just happened to feel like caramelized onions, bacon and goat cheese :). I used the caramelized onions essentially as the sauce, but you could just as easily use a store-bought tomato pizza sauce and layer on any other toppings you want. This dough recipe is for a Thin, Whole Wheat Crust. The mixture of white and wheat flours gives a better flavor and texture than using all whole wheat flour. This recipe yields enough dough for one large pizza, with a thin to medium crust, or, two small/medium pizzas with thinner crust. The thickness will depend on how thin you roll the dough.
White/Wheat Pizza Dough
(I use half whole wheat and half white flour, but you could use all white or all wheat, though it will change the texture)
Time: 25 active, 30 inactive Yield: 1 large or 2 medium/small pizzas
- 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 ounce active dry yeast (found in the baking aisle)
- 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
- 1 cup warm water (not hot – this could kill the yeast)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder, optional
- 1 teaspoon dried basil, optional
- Cornmeal, for coating pizza stone to prevent sticking
Add half the tablespoon of sugar to the warm water and dissolve. Sprinkle the yeast on top. After about 10 minutes, it should be all foamy – this is how you know the yeast is now active:
Meanwhile, combine the flour, salt, other half tablespoon of sugar, spices and olive oil in a large bowl (preferably of an electric mixer with dough hook attachment. If you do not have one, this can be done in a regular bowl with a spoon, and can be kneaded by hand). Add the yeast/water mixture and stir with dough hook/spoon until moistened and combined.
Continue to knead, either by hand or with a dough hook, for 6-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If too sticky, add more flour (a tablespoon at a time); if too dry, add water. The dough should be moist but not sticky. Below you can see the elasticity of the dough – keep kneading until it holds its shape as a nice ball.
Place the dough on a lightly floured counter and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes, covered with a damp towel.
Meanwhile, place your pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F. Alternatively, lightly grease a 12″ metal pizza pan.
Once the dough has rested, gently roll/pat/stretch the dough out to the size you need. When using a pre-heated pizza stone, I normally try to stretch out the dough as much as possible, then I take the stone out of the oven, sprinkle with cornmeal, then as swiftly as possible, place the dough on the stone and add the toppings. Then I return it to the oven, usually 12-15 minutes, depending on the toppings.
Caramelized Onion, Bacon and Goat Cheese Pizza
Time: 20 active, 35 inactive Yield: One 14″ pizza
- 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste, optional
- salt and pepper
- 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
- 6 slices bacon, cooked and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- Fresh basil, julienned
- Olive oil, dried oregano and pepper for seasoning before serving
Preheat the oven (and pizza stone) at 425°F.
Over medium heat, heat the butter and olive oil in a saute pan and add onions. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, until caramelized 15-20 minutes (low and slow is the best way for caramelized onions – you want them to become translucent, then gradually get golden brown, without actually browning or burning them). Once caramelized, add white wine and tomato paste and cook until wine is evaporated.
See above recipe for dough or use store-bought. Stretch to fit pizza stone or pan (as directed above). Except try to make it prettier than mine. I was being a little too hasty and not gentle enough, so I got a few wholes in my dough. Be gentle and patient, unlike me. Spread with caramelized onions, then sprinkle on goat cheese, bacon and mozzarella.
Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh basil, dried oregano, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Slice (preferably on a cutting board), and serve immediately.
Mmmmm bacon and goat cheese. Doesn’t get much better than that…even if the dough doesn’t look pretty, it will taste delicious, I promise.
So who’s feeling like pizza? Was that a clear dough tutorial, or did I miss something? Let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer them in the Comments Section.