INDIANAPOLIS - Every week, there is one night in our household that everyone looks forward to – Pizza Night. And really, can you blame us? To me, pizza is pretty much the best food ever.
Friday nights are strictly family time for us. We pick out a good (bad) movie, relax and eat a ton of pizza with the kids. It's a great night to just chill together, without spending a ton of money.
To save money, I make the pizza myself. It's pretty easy, tastes better than most pizza places, and we can put whatever toppings we want on it.
It doesn't take a professional baker to make a great pizza. You can do it, too.
It all starts with an amazing crust.
If there is any part of homemade pizza making that might have a difficulty level, this would be it. It takes some elbow grease and paying close attention to the recipe.
You can make pizza dough with all-purpose flour, but for really great dough with a good consistency I recommend using some bread flour. The higher gluten content in bread flour gives the dough that stretchy consistency, and ensures the right atmosphere for yeast to rise when kneaded.
Topping it off:
For toppings, I usually grab food stuffs I already have in the fridge – mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, cheeses. But if we want something special, we'll plan ahead and grab a few things at the store during our weekly shopping trip.
The kids are total pepperoni fans, so that is a staple. We adults are a little more adventurous. If I have time, I'll caramelize some yellow onions for a topping, and we often liberally sprinkle goat cheese or bleu cheese or whatever "other" cheese we have in the fridge on top as well.
One great way to enjoy your pizza even more is to make it a family affair, and let the little ones – and the big ones, too – add their own toppings to smaller, individual-sized pizzas.
But first, the dough.
Makes 2 large 14" pizzas or 4-6 individual smaller pizzas
3 cups bread flour (can replace up to half of this with whole wheat flour)
1 tbs. sea salt
2 tbs. sugar
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 cup + 2 tbs. cup filtered warm water – approx. 110-120 degrees F
3 tbs. olive oil
2-3 tbs. cornmeal
Whisk flour and salt in a large ceramic bowl.
In a smaller bowl, add warm water, then yeast and sugar. Let sit until the yeast blooms. Blooming means the yeast activates, and becomes puffy and foamy. This takes about 2 minutes.
After the yeast blooms, add the water mixture with the olive oil into the flour, stirring until you can get the mixture into a ball shape. Use a little flour on your hands if it gets sticky.
Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly-floured surface and knead into a round shape until everything is mixed well – about 3 minutes.
Wipe large bowl and oil lightly with a little additional olive oil.
If the mixture is a little sticky or seems hard to knead, let it rest under a cloth. Come back in about 10 minutes and the dough will be in a much better place.
Knead for approximately 3 minutes and then place back into the large bowl.
Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours. It should double in size.
After letting the dough rise, lightly coat a flat surface like your counter with a little bit of flour and dump out the dough. You'll want to knead it a few times and shape it back into a ball. Place it back in the bowl for 20 minutes or so.
Sprinkle the corn meal onto a pizza stone or pan and turn on your oven to 450 degrees.
Take the dough out of the bowl and separate into two balls. If you want smaller, individual pizzas, separate into however many equal balls you think you'll need.
If you are adventurous, you can try to toss the dough into the air, but I usually roll out the dough with a rolling pin.
Place the dough onto your pizza stones or pans. Add sauce and toppings and stick in the oven for about 15 minute or until the edges are a light brown and cheese has begun to bubble.
Soon you'll have delicious, homemade pizza everyone will love.
Pro-tip: The oven is a great place to let your dough rise. Warm the oven to about 200 degrees for about 5 minutes and turn off. Place your bowl of dough inside the oven and let it rise away.
For more on food and for more recipes check out twinklevanwinkle.com.
Twinkle VanWinkle was born in a small town in Mississippi. A life-long lover of music, media and food, she grew up following those three things along her path. She has almost 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks while working in restaurants and bakeries in Oxford, Miss. She baked 300 apple pies for the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and appeared on "The Best Of..." in the same year. Along with producing dynamic entertainment content for LIN Media, she is a mother, musician and social media fanatic.
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