One of the things I love most about Italian cooking is that many dishes are a lot easier to make than one would think. With a few simple ingredients and minimal time and effort you can really put together a delicious meal.
Making your own pizza falls into this category. Forget about the movies you’ve seen, where the pizza guy is artfully gyrating and flipping the perfectly circular dough over his head and behind his back. You can make your own pizza at home quite easily, actually.
At my house we have Pizza Friday, which isn’t always on a Friday even though it still gets called Pizza Friday. What do we do on Pizza Fridays? If you guessed make pizza then you are correct. Let me show you how you can have your own pizza night at home.
Here’s what you’ll need to make 1 pizza…
1) 3 cups all-purpose flour
2) ½ bag of dry yeast(I use Fleishmann’s. It comes as a set of 3)
3) 1 teaspoon sugar
4) 1 teaspoon salt
5) 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
6) 1 cup tepid water
In a mixing bowl place flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Mix them together so that all ingredients get evenly spread out. Add the olive oil and water and start mixing with a fork. When the water is well combined, continue kneading with your hands until the dough is soft, stretchy and smooth and no longer sticks to your hands, about 5-10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball. Add a drop of olive oil to the bottom of your mixing bowl (this is so that the dough doesn’t stick to the bottom) and place the dough ball in the bowl. Then put a drop of olive oil on top of the dough and smooth it out (this is so that the dough doesn’t form a crust whilst it’s rising). Now cover the bowl with either a clean dishtowel or with some saran wrap and leave it on the counter for at least 1.5 – 2 hours for the dough to rise. When you’re ready to make your pizza, take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a floured surface. With your hands, shape and stretch the dough to the approximate size/shape of your pan and then place it into that pan (pre-greased with olive oil) to finish fitting it. You can use a round pizza pan, a cookie sheet, even a paella pan. At this point let your palate lead the way and top the pizza with any of your favorite toppings…crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, vegetables, meats, ricotta, seasonings, whatever you prefer.
A couple of suggestions …
1) Don’t overload the pizza with toppings, otherwise the dough won’t cook well
2) I prefer to sauteé my vegetable toppings prior to placing them on the pizza. I feel they taste better when they’re pre-seasoned and pre-cooked.
3) Brush the crust of the completed pizza with olive oil and also drizzle a little extra olive oil over top.
Place your completed masterpiece in a 475-degree oven for 30 minutes and then…enjoy!
I hope this inspires you to make your own pizza tonight. At the very least, I hope it inspires you to start thinking about your next trip to Italy where you can just go to any pizzeria and get one ready-made!