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Homemade Pizza

If you want an amazing pizzeria pizza right out of your own oven, this one is for you! Of course the toppings you choose are entirely up to you… But I will say, the pepperoni and black olive combination is mighty tasty, and that’s coming from someone who never used to like olives. You can thank my husband for that one. That’s his favorite combo. Sometimes we add some chopped green peppers which gives the pie a nice color.

The original recipe for this pizza dough came from my mom, who got it from a friend through a recipe chain. Mom made this pizza on a regular basis for our family of seven and taught me how to mix it up by hand when I was pretty young. Now our family has grown to more than twenty and we all still look forward to Mom’s pizza when home. So Ma cranks up her bread machine and mixes double, triple, sometimes quadruple batches.

Fast forward many years later to when I met my husband and then, his mother. My recipe for pizza was altered from then on when she showed me how to combine fresh shredded cheeses and bake the pizza at a piping hot 500 degrees.

Mom’s pizza crust with my mother-in-law’s toppings. . .  it’s a beautiful thing when families come together!

 

The Dough

The base of the pizza – a soft, chewy crust with a crispy outside. The ingredients will start forming a ball once they are mixed. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky. Too wet or sticky, it may need more flour. Too dry or crumbly, it may need some more warm water.

The original recipe listed 2 1/2 cups flour and 1 cup water but it didn’t seem to fill my large Airbake pizza pan like I wanted. So now I use 3 full cups of bread flour with 1 and 1/3 cups warm water. Perfect.

 

After the dough is done rising, it should be about doubled in size. It will be soft and airy with a delicious aroma of garlic and olive oil.

Start getting the dough into a circle shape in the air before you lay it on the greased pizza pan. Fancy people in Italian restaurants do this by tossing the dough in the air. If I do that, I’ll get holes in the dough or it will fall on the floor. So I just hold the top of the dough in the air, letting it hang down and turn it like a steering wheel. That spreads it out a bit and makes it easier to shape in the pan.

The Cheese

For one large pizza, I use (2) 8 oz blocks of cheese – one mozzarella, one monterey jack. Why use block cheese that has to be hand-grated vs buying pre-shredded cheese from a store? Pre-shredded and packaged cheeses have to be drier so they won’t be one sticky clump in the bag. And for whatever the reason, pre-shredded cheese seems to form a filmy crust when it bakes.

To shred by hand, it’s nice to use a grater with rubber feet to hold it in place. Or be pathetic like me and plead with your husband to grate it for you. :)

 

Lay out a piece of wax paper or set the grater in a bowl so you have something to catch the cheese.

If I’m on top of things, I like to grate the cheese ahead of time and put it in the fridge until the crust is ready. Makes the final assembly seem to go a lot faster.

To make cleaning the cheese grater easier, rinse it right away under hot water and rub a cloth or sponge over the grate. The cheese residue will wipe right off and save you from having to scrub the dried cheese off later. Yuck.

The Toppings

Prep your toppings next. Whether it’s cooking your sausage or bacon, chopping veggies or slicing pineapple, get everything prepped while your dough is rising.

In this case, I had a can of pitted black olives. Slice with a knife or finely dice with a food chopper. Whatever whole olives I don’t use gets stored in the fridge in a plastic container (which keeps better than a can).

Pizza PrepAfter the pan is greased, spread out your dough, pushing to the outside edge to form a crust. Using the back of a large spoon, spread the pizza sauce. My farmer Dad who is very Norwegian (i.e. bland foods) never liked much sauce, so Mom always used a very thin layer on her pizza crust. That’s kinda what I’m used to and finding that my kids don’t care for much sauce either. It’s a weird family trait. Anywho, do whatever floats your boat.

If you’re using pepperoni for a topping, I like to put that right on top of the sauce. It looks nice to have them on top of the cheese, but the grease from the pepperoni tends to pool on the top of the pizza. Ick. Next layer your cheese, then your toppings, spreading evenly around the pizza.

There are few things in the world of cheese that taste better than melted provolone cheese. Yum! (If you agree, see this recipe for Hoagie Sandwiches!)

Simply tear slices of provolone cheese and scatter them on the top. Finish it off with a small sprinkling of parmesan cheese and a dusting of coarse oregano.

It’s ready to bake.

Here’s where it gets crazy. Bake the pizza on the very very bottom rack in an oven that’s been preheated to 500 degrees. That’s one hot oven! (It’ll need plenty of time to warm up.)

Within 11-12 minutes, the cheese will be bubbly and the crust will be a crisp, golden brown.

 

 

This final step is completely optional. If you’re health conscience about putting butter on the crust, I understand. (Also pretend we didn’t just use more than a pound of cheese. Yikes!)

If you decide to walk on the wild side, the butter will give your crust a nice shine and that much more flavor for this soft, bread-like crust.

Rub about a tablespoon of butter around the crust (or apply melted butter with a pastry brush). What doesn’t get used from the butter, I toss back in the fridge in a plastic baggy and use it on the next pizza.

Let stand about 5 minutes.

Then slice, serve and enjoy!

 

 

 

Homemade Pizza
Serves: 1 large pizza
Ingredients
  • *1 cup Warm Water (115°)
  • 2 TB Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Course Garlic Salt with Parsley
  • *2½-3 cups Bread Flour
  • 1 pkg Active Dry Yeast (2¼ tsp)
  • Cornmeal for dusting (opt)
  • Pizza Sauce
  • 8 oz Mozzarella Cheese (block)
  • 8 oz Monterey Jack Cheese (block)
  • 4-5 slices Provolone Cheese
  • Toppings:
  • Sliced Pepperoni
  • Black Olives, chopped
  • Oregano
  • Parmesan Cheese
Instructions
  1. Making the dough by hand: Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water, let stand 5 minutes. Stir in the oil and mix in dry ingredients. Knead slightly, the dough will be soft and slightly sticky. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let rise in a warm area for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Using a bread machine: Add ingredients (water through yeast) to bread machine in the order listed. Set machine to dough cycle.
  3. Preparing the Pizza: Grease a large pizza pan with a heavy coat of cooking spray. Sprinkle with cornmeal (opt). While your dough is rising, grate the two blocks of cheese over wax paper. Refrigerate until ready to use. Once dough has doubled in size, press over the bottom and slightly past the sides to form a crust. Spread the pizza sauce evenly. Add a layer of pepperoni. Sprinkle the shredded cheese and add the chopped black olives (or any other toppings of your choice). Tear the sliced provolone and lay on top. Sprinkle with oregano and parmesan. Bake on bottom rack of oven at 500° for 10-12 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and brush butter around the edge of the crust. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Notes
This was originally mom's homemade pizza recipe. She makes amazing pizza and taught me how to make it when I was about 10 years old. Her pizza has a light layer of sauce, 1 package of shredded mozzarella cheese and fresh ground sausage from the farm. She bakes them in medium sized pizza pans, greased, no cornmeal at 425° for 11-13 minutes. Her crust is always light and the end product is hardly greasy! Makes one large pizza or two medium pizzas.[br][br]*Water and Flour: 2 1/2 cups of flour and 1 cup water works for a thinner crust large pizza. For a thicker crust, I like to use 3 cups flour and 1 1/3 cups water.