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Category: Pizza (page 2 of 2)

Turning My Kitchen into a Pizza Parlor

pizza doughWhen my husband, two small children and I first moved out to the country, there were a lot of adjustments to make.  One of them was pizza.  We had always lived close to pretty good pizza places before, and were used to being able to get a pizza easily.  That was not the case once we moved to the country.  Not only did we have to drive quite a ways to get a pizza (or tip a delivery driver really well, which seemed wasteful), but with two small children, sometimes loading up in the car was more trouble than it was worth.  That was when I learned to make my own pizza.  What a ritual it has turned out to be for our family.  It is one meal I know my husband and both kids and will love.  It is also a meal that is fun to make for friends and members of the extended family.  When my kids have friends over, I like to have them help put the toppings on.  If they help make it, they are more likely to enjoy it.

Of course buying your own crust is a lot quicker and easier.  And sometimes we do that too.  Making pizza crust from scratch is time-consuming and labor-intensive.  But if I have enough time, it is total therapy for me to be in my kitchen kneading dough and smelling the delicious scents of the flour and yeast as it combines with the water and oil.  If I have time to make the crust by hand, it usually means we are going to be home for awhile and the kids are bustling in and out, helping with parts and then running off to play.  Or it might mean that friends or extended family members are over, and we are chatting while I work on the dough.  Either way, it is usually a festive time when we are not rushing to get to all the different events we often need to go to.  It is also healthy to make crust from scratch.  That way, you know exactly what is in it, and generally, homemade crust has less salt, grease, and preservatives than pizza you buy either at the store or a quick pizza place.  I like to make it with some whole wheat flour and white flour mixed, to give it a little more fiber.  one pizza sliceI posted the recipe for my homemade crust below.

The type of toppings can change with the seasons and to fit the tastes of those eating the pizza.  Right now with spinach and basil in season, I like to use a lot of those.  A favorite combination for my family is homemade pizza sauce (that recipe I will post at later time), spinach, basil, salami (I leave a portion without salami for my vegetarian daughter), shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and feta cheese if we have it.  The different combinations are endless though, and that is why it is so fun to experiment.  One of my favorite experiments was with butternut squash, red onions, and shredded cheddar cheese.

For awhile, Friday night was homemade pizza night at our house.  As the kids have gotten older and we have gotten busier with their sports and activities, I don’t have the time to make pizza from scratch every week.  But we try to do it at least once or twice a month, and not always on a Friday.  It feels good not to always rely on some other place or some other company for our pizza.  It feels good to be able to produce it in my own kitchen.  It feels good once in awhile to really slow down and be forced to take time with food, and to really get my hands into the making of it.

whole pizzatwo pizza slices

Recipe for Homemade Pizza Crust

Homemade Pizza Crust

  • Servings: two large pizzas
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour, plus more for adding to dough to get the right texture
  • 1/4 ounce (7 g) package active dry yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cup luke warm water
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour (I like to use the above combination of whole wheat and white flour–you can substitute more white for the wheat if you want), yeast, sugar, and salt.  Pour in the luke warm water (it should not be hot–that could cause the dough not to rise) and the olive oil.  Stir vigorously until dry and wet ingredients are well mixed.  Gradually add white flour to the dough mixture until it gets more like dough and less like batter.  When it can hold together as a ball, scrape the dough onto a floured counter top and begin to knead the dough.  Gradually work in more flour as you knead until the dough feels elastic and smooth.  If it is still sticky, knead in more flour.  Knead for at least eight to ten minutes, till the dough is soft and pliable.  Place the ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover the bowl with a dishcloth.  Let it rise in a warm (not hot) place for at least 45 minutes.

When dough has doubled in size, punch it down in the bowl (my kids’ favorite part of the process) and turn back out onto the floured counter top.  Knead in a little more flour if it is sticky.  Divide the dough into two balls, place them back in the same bowl, cover them with the towel, and let them rest for about ten minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Then turn the first ball of dough out onto the floured counter top.  With a rolling pin, roll it to fit either a 15-inch pizza stone or a standard sized cookie sheet.  It is not important to worry about the exact size of the pizza stone or baking sheet–the dough can stretch to fit as long as it is in the general vicinity of the above sizes.  To prevent sticking, dust the pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal.  Carefully transfer the rolled dough from the counter to the pizza stone or baking sheet.  Gently press it to make it fit the surface evenly.  Then repeat the process with the second ball of dough, and transfer it to the second pizza stone or baking sheet.  I like to brush olive oil on the dough once it is spread onto the pizza stone/baking sheet.

Spread on your favorite pizza sauce, toppings, and cheeses.  Bake in the 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or till the cheese is melted and the crust is lightly browned.  Take out of the oven and let the pizzas cool for about five to ten minutes before slicing them.

Enjoy!

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