Frozen pizzas are a great way to feed people relatively quickly, especially when I don’t feel creative. I’m also lucky to live in a beautiful city with many great mom and pop pizza restaurants and food trucks. I even have a friend who organizes a Pizza Club, where they go out to a different pizza place every week. The availability of pizza in this town is approaching endless.
That being said, making pizza from scratch is super easy, takes less time than going to a pizza parlor, and is considerably cheaper.
The pizza dough itself can be made from ingredients most casual bakers have in their pantries already: warm water, all-purpose flour, salt, sugar, oil, and yeast. Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and mix. Bread is a wonderful, miraculous thing. All of the ingredients serve a purpose. The flour provides the structure and the nutritious properties. You can sub whole wheat flour for up to half of the white flour, but if you use 100% whole wheat, the bread will fall apart (I know from experience). Oil provides fat which keeps the dough moist. Salt in small quantities brings out flavor. The yeast is a living organism which eats the sugar to create bubbles and lift in the bread.
The warm water provides a medium to stick everything together. The water must be warm because the yeast has to make lots of babies to create the bubbles of air in the bread. I like to think of the water like a hot tub. If it’s too hot, it will kill the yeast. If it’s too cold, it will be like a swimming pool where the yeast will swim laps, but not do much else. If it’s hot tub warm, it will be very romantic and the yeast will make lots of babies. Make sure the water is about the same temperature as a comfortable hot tub.
After the ingredients are mixed, I knead the bread in the bowl until smooth. Then it sits while the oven warms and I prep the other ingredients.
Today, I made a traditional type of pizza called Pizza Margherita. According to Italy Magazine, Pizza Margherita was invented by Queen Margherita in 1889 and the colors of the dish are meant to represent the colors of the Italian flag, red (tomatoes), white (mozzarella cheese), and green (basil).
But you can put anything you want on pizza.
Potatoes, rosemary, and caramelized onions? I’ve had it. Think you’re so clever putting leftover mac ‘n cheese on a pizza? Someone else has already done it. A pizza can take almost anything and it’s a great way to use up leftovers or odds and ends of ingredients.
One the oven is hot at the toppings are ready, I prepare the crust. First, I put about a tablespoon of olive oil on the pizza stone and use the dough itself like a paintbrush to spread it around. Then I squish the dough out from the center until it covers the pizza stone. Check to make sure the dough is evenly spread.
Now for toppings. Recognize the sauce? It’s last week’s tomato soup (frozen and kept for this purpose). I arranged the mozzarella like this because a very good pizza Margherita will use dollops of fresh mozzarella. I’m approximating with not-fresh mozzarella. I’m still up to my ears in basil, so I was not shy about using a bunch of that. I used sun-dried tomatoes because they have a nice concentration of tomato flavor and would contrast with the flavor of the sauce. My husband pointed out that they do not match the consistency of the rest of the dish, though.
Bake at 375ºF.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever had on pizza?