Pizza is one of my favorite foods. Yes, it may be a 7 year old’s standard answer to a classroom prompt, but in the spirit of embracing my inner child, I really do love pizza. It is a blank canvas like grilled cheese (admittedly another favorite) where you can go either savory or more on the sweeter side, and after adding a “healthy” portion of cheese, there really is no wrong way to top a pizza.
Starting with the base, pizza dough is actually pretty easy to make, you just need to allot enough time for the dough to have several sessions of rising. If you can plan ahead, I suggest making the dough a few days prior and freezing it. That way you have dough on hand whenever you feel like pizza and don’t have to wait two hours for dough prep (yes, at least two hours, I told you to plan ahead!). I have tried a few different dough recipes and my new favorite is the one found on Sally’s Baking Addiction. Sally has laid out step by step instructions with pictures for this fool-proof recipe. Her recipe makes two 12-inch pizza crusts so I suggest splitting the dough into 4 balls to create 6-inch pizza rounds. This creates the perfect size for one person and you can adjust the amount of pizzas you make depending on how many people are present. With the dough made ahead and frozen, there is no waste as well; a little planning goes a long way!
With your dough already prepped, all that’s left is to decide on the toppings. Since it was a date night, I made two pizzas, one in the classic margherita fashion and the second combining sweet and savory. I found a variety of heirloom tomatoes at the grocery store to add layers of color to the magherita pizza. For the second, I basically took all of my favorite items on a cheese plate and put them on the pizza, fig preserves, sliced apple, prosciutto and cheese; remember no wrong way to top a pizza!
Fight the temptation to order dominoes for your pizza party and embrace your creative inner foodie! Enjoy!
- 2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast or instant yeast (this is the amount in a standard packet, the dry active yeast will have a longer rise time)
- 1 1/3 cups warm water
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for greasing
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- fine ground cornmeal for dusting pans
- 2-3 Tablespoons sauce per pizza (featured: tomato sauce and fig preserves)
- 1/2 – 1 cup cheese per pizza (featured: small fresh mozzarella balls, halved)
- Veggies and protein of your choice! I went with heirloom tomatoes and basil for one pizza and thinly sliced apples and chopped prosciutto for the second.
Making Your Pizza
- For the dough: Carefully follow the instructions laid out on Sally’s Baking Addiction. As with all recipes, read it over in its entirety before starting so you know the work and time involved. The majority of the time is spent on the dough resting so you are not actually working two hours straight in the kitchen. If you are short on time, some grocery stores sell premade pizza dough which will work as well, but please follow the cooking instructions on the bag if that is the route you take.
- For the toppings: While your dough is in the final resting stage after you have formed the rounds, prep your toppings. If you are using raw meat like Italian sausage, make sure to cook it prior to adding it to the pizza. If you are using fresh mozzarella, I suggest cutting it to the desired thickness and letting it “rest” on a bed of paper towels to draw out some of the moisture so that you don’t end up with a soupy pizza.
- Heat oven to 475F for at least 30 minutes so that it is heated evenly throughout and VERY hot to cook the pizzas quickly!
- Add toppings to pizza and bake for 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Fight the urge to keep opening your oven door to check on it, every time you open the oven the temperature drops which will inevitably increase the cooking time.
- Slice pizza and enjoy your hard work!
Dough recipe and preparation found on Sally’s Baking Addiction: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/11/20/homemade-pizza-crust-recipe/