My first attempt at homemade pizza was a complete flop. My friend decided to make it using a bread maker, assuming that the huge machine would make the process rather foolproof. But, boy were we wrong. When we went to remove the dough after kneading, the entire thing was a liquid mess. We tried as hard as we could to mold it into some semblance of a pizza, but it just wasn’t meant to be. To salvage the meal, we cooked up a quick batch of penne and topped it off with our prepared pizza sauce and chopped veggies. While there was no nicely bubbling crust or melty mozzarella cheese, we were still happily full.
After that experience, I pretty much gave up on making my own pizza dough. I found a local shop that sold it pre-made, and that became my go-to way of hosting a pizza party. I still experimented with homemade sauces and fancy toppings, but the dough was not something I was eager to try again.
Recently, however, I had a renewed desire to make my own dough. My coworker always talked about how easy it was, and I wanted to get over my fear of yeasty doughs. So, I googled a dough recipe, took out my KitchenAid mixer (definitely instrumental in this process), and got to work.
In just a few steps, I wound up with a stretchy, fluffy, perfect dough. The dough rose perfectly within two hours, held up to some pretty aggressive shaping, and served as a great vehicle for all my toppings.
The sauce here is also wonderful. The great thing about pizza dough sauces is that they don’t have to be cooked (since they’ll be baked in the oven for at least 10 minutes), so they can be whipped together very quickly. Feel free to experiment with the herbs (or use fresh ones), but definitely give it a try!
Homemade Pizza Recipe
For the dough (recipe from Simply Recipes):
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour (spooned and leveled)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
For the sauce (adapted from Peter Reinhart):
- 16 oz. crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp salt
- dash of ground pepper
- 1/ 2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Toppings (these were great, but feel free to use whatever is in the fridge):
- asparagus (cut into 1-2 inch spears)
- zucchini, quartered and diced
- red and green peppers, chopped or sliced thinly
- mushrooms, thinly sliced
- mozzarella cheese, grated
- cornmeal (for the crust)
For the dough:
- Combine warm water and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer. Make sure that the water isn’t too hot! Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, or until the yeast foams on top.
- Using a wooden spoon, mix in olive oil, salt, and sugar. Slowly add the flour until it is too difficult to stir.
- At this point, attach the dough hook to your stand mixer. Mix the dough on low or medium speed for around 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and stretchy.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let sit in a warm place (I chose the top of my fridge) for 1-1.5 hours. During this time, the dough should double in size.
For the sauce:
- combine all ingredients in a blender. Mix for 10-15 seconds, depending on the strength of your blender and your preferred sauce texture. I like to leave it pretty chunky so there are pieces of tomato on my pizza.
Making the pizzas:
- Prep your pizza pan by covering it in cornmeal. I use square pans, either 11″x18″ or 9″x13″.
- Heat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and punch down the dough.
- Split your dough evenly in half and mold each piece into a small round ball. Let sit on a tray covered with a tea towel for 10-15 minutes, or until you are ready to start baking.
- Working with one ball at a time, start stretching the dough. To start, I like to put the dough ball on top of my knuckles and let the dough stretch around my hand. Then I work with the edges, letting the dough hang down and stretch as I work my way around the circle. It’s OK if the dough isn’t perfectly stretched yet, since you can continue to work with it once you lay it on the pan.
- Place your stretched dough on the prepared pan. Cover with olive oil first (this helps the sauce stay on top, and not soak into, the crust). Then lightly coat with sauce, top with mozzarella cheese, and add toppings.
- Slide pizza into the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Check the bottom of the pizza to make sure that it’s browned as well.
- Let cool for a few minutes and then cut into pieces to serve!
This recipe makes 2 doughs (or pizza for roughly 4-6 people).