Our family, like many others, eats pizza a lot. It gets expensive but who can resist a nice hot meal that you don’t have to leave the house for? Eventually I decided to learn to make it myself. It’s so crazy easy (and cheap!) that we haven’t ordered out for pizza in forever. This tutorial will show you how to make delicious pizza crust and sauce. It takes about an hour and fifteen minutes from start to finish (but most of that is waiting for the dough to rise). That’s probably as long as you’d wait for pizza delivery on a Friday night! You’ll be surprised how easy this pizza is and how fantastic it tastes. It’s pretty hard to screw up, so don’t be afraid!
The easiest way to make pizza is with a food processor. I use my food processor pretty much every day. I love this thing! It’s possible to make the crust in a mixer or even–how quaint!–by hand. But it takes about 90 seconds in a processor. Here’s what you’ll need to make two medium (but very filling) pizzas:
First you’ll start the crust. It can rise while you’re getting everything else ready. Here are the ingredients:
1/2 cup hot water
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (rapid rise is also OK). Check the expiration date!!!
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/4 cups room temp water
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
In a two-cup measuring cup you’ll put 1/2 cup of hot tap water. Not steaming, just really warm. Stir the yeast into it. This is called proofing and it’s going to wake up your yeast. If your yeast is good it will start to look clumpy and have several bubbles on the surface after about five minutes. If it just sits there looking pretty much the same then you’d better go get some different yeast; your pizza will be a failure if your yeast is no good!
While your yeast is proofing, put the flour, salt, sugar, and garlic powder into the food processor and give it a whirl.(If you don’t have a processor, do the same steps but in your mixer with the paddle attachment.) If you’re a fan of whole wheat, you can substitute half of the bread flour in this recipe for whole wheat flour.
Once your yeast has come alive (5-10 minutes) you’re going to take the measuring cup and add enough warmish water to fill up the cup to the 1 3/4 cup mark. (That means you’ll be adding 1 1/4 cups of water to what you already have.) Then you’ll add 2 Tbs. of olive oil to the same measuring cup. It won’t mix up very well; not a big deal. You’re going to pour it all into the food processor anyway.
While the processor is going, pour the measuring cup full of yeast/oil/water into the flour mixture. It should combine into a dough within about 30 seconds. Keep processing it for another minute. That’s it!
Liberally sprinkle some flour onto your kitchen counter and dump your dough out. Knead it for about 30 seconds, just until it’s smooth.
Spray a bowl with Pam and place your dough inside. It’s going to rise in here. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out. It should rise til it’s about doubled in size, somewhere between 45-60 minutes. Putting it somewhere warm (not over 115°!) will speed things up.
While your dough is rising, rinse out the food processor and make the sauce. You’ll need:
1 can of diced tomatoes
3/4 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp dried basil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Drain the can of tomatoes and dump it in the food processor. Put in all the other ingredients and process till it’s smooth.
I bought my Zyliss garlic press about twenty years ago and it’s still going strong. I’ve gotten other brands of garlic presses over the years but none is as good as my trusty little Zyliss. Every time I use it (probably five times a week. I adore garlic.) I think, “I love you, little garlic press!”
Once your dough has risen, you’ll need to preheat the oven to 500°. My oven takes a good 15 minutes to get that hot.
Now is the time to shape your pizza. Forget tossing it in the air or things like that (unless you really want to. If you have sons I promise they will try it). Here is the easiest way to get a nice flat crust: get a sheet of parchment paper. (If you don’t have any, go get some. For real. You need it.) Take a blob of dough. My kids all like to do their own pizzas; they don’t need much dough, maybe about the size of a Clementine orange. If the dough sticks to your fingers, dip it in flour first. Now start in the center and use your fingertips to push it into a big circular shape.
Then gently pull and stretch the crust until it’s pretty thin, except for a thicker section around the edge. This pizza dough bakes up really thick so it’s almost impossible to get too thin. I happen to like really thick crust.
If you end up with extra dough–and you might since this recipe is enough for our family with a couple of pieces to spare–you can make an extra pizza to eat later. This pizza crust is much heartier than the crust from most pizza places. I can barely eat two pieces without feeling stuffed. You can also freeze the leftover dough in a ziploc bag. Just let it defrost next time you want pizza and you’ll be all set. You can freeze any leftover sauce too.
Once your crust is the right size, you’ll prick it all over with a fork. This keeps giant air bubbles from forming.
Now slather the whole thing with olive oil. If you don’t have a pastry brush just use your fingers. It’s good for your skin!
Put the pizza sauce in a bowl and spoon it onto the pizza. I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes so I go easy on it; my husband loves tomatoes so he likes it really heavy on sauce. Yet another reason why we usually make our own individual pizzas. Sometimes we’ll splash some BBQ sauce over the top or skip tomato sauce altogether and make some alfredo sauce. For those times when we feel like we need to gain a few pounds.
Topping time! This is all up to you. For sure start with some shredded mozzarella. I love pepperoni and black olives. Mister likes pepperoni and pineapple (weird). Sometimes I’ll put on some spinach and mushrooms. Use whatever you want; that’s the joy of DIY pizza! Just remember that your pizza will puff up a lot more than a commercial pizza does; your toppings will seem a lot sparser after the pizza’s cooked. So put on more stuff than you think you need. Here are York and Jasper’s pizzas:
To bake your pizza you can use a pizza stone if you have one. Or you can get some thick terra cotta tiles from Home Depot ($1.50 each!) and use those instead. They tend to break after a couple of uses but who really cares since they’re so cheap.But for either of those methods you’ll need a way to get the pizza in and out of the oven. That means you’ll need a pizza peel which is basically a giant spatula with a long handle, like what you see at pizza restaurants. Pizza is incredibly floppy and really, really difficult to get into an oven (especially one that is 500°) without dropping half the toppings onto the floor.
You can use a cookie sheet, but if you’ve got a houseful of people who’ve made their own little pizzas, you’re going to encounter some mishaps trying to get the raw pizzas onto the baking sheet. Plus the crust just doesn’t get as crispy on the bottom.
I recommend putting the pizza and the parchment straight into the oven. Yep, just set the parchment paper straight onto the oven rack. The crust is almost as good as when using a baking stone. There isn’t the ordeal of trying to remove around a floppy, unbaked pizza. The pizza doesn’t get stuck to the baking stone (a common problem) and it’s pretty headache-free. I have tried every method of pizza cooking and removal and this is the easiest!* The paper will brown but it’s not going to catch on fire or anything.
If you’re baking a small pizza check it after five minutes. Unless you’re baking a super gigantic pizza it shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to cook. Just leave it in til the crust is dark golden brown.
When it comes time to take the pizza out of the oven, slide the oven whole rack out. This is one hot oven and it’s super easy to burn yourself. Have a cookie sheet in one hand and using a spatula, push the pizza toward the cookie sheet. The browned parchment is very brittle and it’ll just rip if you try to pull on it. Use the cookie sheet as a giant spatula to put the parchment/pizza on the counter or a cooling rack for a couple of minutes.
Once the cheese is cool enough not to burn the roof of your mouth, slice it up and enjoy!