I love making homemade Pizza. The idea of making my own crust and sauce and getting creative with toppings is alot of fun for me. I have perfected making Pizza Sauce; but for a number of years I have been searching for a way to perfect my Pizza Dough. Rather challenging. I'm a real fuss ant about Pizza dough... if the dough isn't right, the Pizza just isn't good. Not too thick..but not too thin... and with a bit of 'chew' to it..oh, and a crispy bottom.... :P Told you...
Anyway, recently, I was watching someone demo making Pizza Dough.. and I thought.. well, I'll give that a try.. and just tweak in some of my own ideas... The result was nothing short of delicious! I can say that from my own perspective and that of my Italian Mother-in-law, who is every bit a Pizza fuss as I am. :) The woman knows her Pizza! So, with that said.. this is what I did to make Pizza..
My Homemade Pizza Sauce:
3 Tblsp. Olive Oil
1 Can Tomato Sauce
1 Can Tomato Paste
2-3 Tblsp. Sugar
In a medium saucepan I simmer the diced onions in the olive oil until they become translucent and lightly carmelized, that is to say.. some of the onion should take on a golden brown color. This allows the natural sugars, the sweetness, of the onion to be released. (Careful to not burn them). Then to the onions, add in the Tomato Sauce, Tomato Paste and the Sugar and simmer until the paste is smoothly melted into the sauce. Set aside.
My Homemade Pizza Dough:
3 Tblsp. Olive Oil
3/4 Cup of lukewarm Water
1 3/4 Cups Bread Flour
2 1/4 Tsp Rapid-Rise Yeast
1 tsp. Sugar
1/2 Tsp. Salt
Pour 2 Tblsp. Olive oil on a cookie sheet and coat the pan thickly with the olive oil... I know it seems like a lot of oil on the pan.. but believe me.. it will aid in crisping up the bottom of the crust as well as making the crust easy to release from the pan.
To the Lukewarm Water, add the remaining 1 Tblsp of Olive Oil. Set aside.
In a large bowl, Combine the Bread Flour, Yeast, Sugar and Salt. Blend well. Then slowly add in the Oil/ Water mixture into the Flour mixture until a wet, soft dough forms. The dough is of proper consistency when it begins to take on the shape of a ball on your dough hook or spoon. You can add in a small amount of additional flour to proper consistency, but keep in mind that the dough should remain 'wet' in appearance.
Grease the palms of your hands. Take the Pizza dough and begin to spread it out on the Cookie sheet, as shown above. Brush the top of the dough lightly with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to allow the dough to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hrs. I have pictured two crusts in the photo. The recipe yields one crust. I added in a tblsp. of milled Flax Seed to the second crust in the picture, just to play around at boosting nutritional value.
When the dough has risen for 1 to 1 1/2 hrs, remove the plastic wrap and press the dough to the edges of the pan as shown below. Replace the plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise once again, this time for 45 minutes.
Once risen, Par bake the crust for 5 minutes in the oven, pre-heated to 500 degrees , placing the crust on the middle shelf in the oven. Your crust will just puff and take on a more 'baked', firm appearance without getting golden, see below.
Remove the crust from the oven and place toppings. Be creative...
I sometimes like to make Pizza in a manner that I refer to as 'Old School Pennsylvania' style, like they make where I grew up. That is, I place sauce on the par baked dough and then sprinkle with White American Cheese that has been shredded in my Food processor, as below. I know, processed cheese... but it is BEYOND good... and worth the occasional fall off the nutritional wagon. :P
I bake this pie on the lowest shelf in my oven at 500 degrees just until the American cheese is melted and the crust begins to brown on the edges.
Another favorite way to make Pizza is to place sauce on my par baked Pizza dough, then top with Shredded Mozzarella Cheese and lovely fresh veggies.
Properly baked, the bottom of your crust should look crispy golden brown like this:
And your crust should take on a wonderfully light, chewy, 'honey-combed' texture like this:
I hope you will give Pizza making a try... with the right Crust.. the sky is the limit for fun you can have with your toppings... Buon divertimento! :)