For as long as any of my children can remember, Saturday night is pizza night. Actually, for almost as long as I can remember....Saturday nights and pizza are just meant to go together!
We were newly married when we began this routine, and we had no idea we were actually starting a little tradition for our soon-to-come family! Back then, it was just a nice way to bring an end to the week.
As time went by and our family grew, I began making our pizza from scratch...both to save on the cost, and also because it is such a fun activity to do together as a family. I usually make the dough for the crust earlier in the day, and then have my children help me stretch the dough into the pans and add the toppings. They also like to help me make our favorite dessert for pizza night - Homemade Brownies topped with a little scoop of ice cream.
Homemade pizza is not hard to make at all....there are a few steps, but each one is pretty simple. Here are our recipes...I've added quite a bit of extra information (for anyone who might be new to making dough), so this looks a lot more complicated that it actually is! ;)
~ crust ~
I have two crust recipes that my family likes. Our favorite one needs to be started in the afternoon, because it needs time to rise. But on busy Saturdays....or when I just forget!...I have a second no-kneading-or-rising recipe that can be made at the last minute, putting yummy pizza on the table in just under one hour. I am experimenting with substituting some of the flour with whole-wheat flour...I will update these recipes once I figure it out! (Suggestions are welcome!)
2 envelopes active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp.)
2 2/3 cups warm water (105F - 115F)
7 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup extra flour for kneading
1. Fill a small bowl with warm water (I test the temperature with my finger...if it is just a little too hot to keep my finger in it for long, it is just right!) and stir in yeast. Let it stand for a few minutes while you get the other ingredients ready.
2. Measure 7 cups of flour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Make a little "well" in the center of the flour by pushing it up along the sides of the bowl. Pour yeast mixture into the well and add the olive oil.
3. Begin to stir the dough with your hand or a spoon, until it makes a soft dough. Use one hand to begin kneading the dough while it is still in the bowl, scraping the sides as you go until all the flour has been worked into the dough-ball. Then turn the dough out onto a clean counter with some of the additional 1 cup of flour sprinkled over the surface where you will knead (to keep the dough from sticking). This step should just take a minute.
4. Begin kneading the dough on the counter. As soon as it starts to get a little sticky, sprinkle more flour onto the counter. Sometimes I end up using the entire 1 extra cup of flour (or more), and sometimes less. I think it depends on how I measured the original ingredients...and possibly a little bit on the weather or the humidity in my kitchen. Continue kneading for 10 minutes. The dough is finished when it feels smooth and is slightly tough to knead. One way see if the dough is ready, is by pressing one finger gently into the dough-ball to make a little dent. If the dent stays put, knead some more. If it springs back mostly into place, you're done!
5. Wash out the mixing bowl and dry it well. Then lightly coat the bowl with a little bit of olive oil. Place the dough into the bowl, turning it over to coat it in oil. Cover with a towel and let it rise in a warm place, for about 1 hour. Sometimes I put the dough to rise into my oven (making sure it is off!), especially if I have the windows open in the kitchen.
6. After the dough has finished rising, I divide it into sections, depending on how many pizzas we want to make! Here are some options for this amount of dough:
- divide it in half for two large pizzas that have thick crusts (I usually use at least one jelly-roll sized pan for this size)
- divide it into three sections for three thinner-crust pizzas (our favorite). Sometimes I break one of these sections into small pieces for each of my kiddos to make their own little pizza.
Grease the pizza pans, then pat-and-stretch the dough until it fits the pan. If it looks very thin or breaks apart while you're stretching, don't worry! Just pinch it back together, and it will continue to rise quite a bit while you add the toppings, and in the oven.
Add sauce, favorite toppings, mozzarella, and a little sprinkle of parmesan. Bake at 450F for 20 to 25 minutes. Check the bottom of the crust (lift it up with a spatula) to make sure it is a nice light golden-brown, or else it will still be soggy in the middle.
(amounts given are for one pizza crust)
1 package dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105F-115F)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 1/2 cups flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in remaining ingredients. Stir/mix with hands until the dough forms a nice ball. Let rest 5 minutes. Pat & stretch into a pizza pan. Top with favorite ingredients, mozzarella, and a little sprinkle of parmesan. Bake at 450F for 15-20 minutes. Make sure the crust is a light golden brown underneath (lift up the edge with a spatula), or else it will be soggy in the middle.
~ sauce ~
Making pizza sauce is very easy....although I don't always have time to do it. Sometimes I use a jar of spaghetti sauce instead, if I have one on hand...and sometimes I use a jar from the store. Aldi's spaghetti sauce is our favorite! Newman's Own marinara comes in a close second, with Barilla's marinara right behind :)
Favorite Homemade Pizza Sauce
2 cans (28 oz) tomato puree
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt to taste
8 fresh basil leaves (or 2 tsp. dried)
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan (except fresh basil, if using). Simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened (about 15-20 minutes). Add fresh basil now, if using. Let sauce cool before putting on pizza.
~ Enjoy! ~