This isn't your mom's homemade pizza from back in the day. Well, maybe it is. But it isn't the homemade pizza from my childhood - no offense mom or dad. Pizza back then was pizza crust out of a tube smooshed into a 9 x 13. And don't get me wrong it has nothing to do with the tube crust. There is always a time and a place for the tube. The problem was that it created a doughy pizza crust. And I am not here for that... thin & crispy all the way. Actually, sometimes semi crispy is a mood too. But soft doughy pizza is not a mood.
You might want to come back to this when you're really in the mood because it is going to be jammed packed with all my pizza thoughts!
First, you need a solid crust. This is my go-to crust using regular flour.
1 and 1/3 cup of warm water (think of warm like a baby's bottle warm)
2 and 1/4 teaspoons of yeast
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
3 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
and an absolute must, yellow cornmeal for dusting the pan
and an option I love, Seasonings! Feel free to mix in some seasoning that match your pizza dreams. You can never go wrong with a good Italian seasoning!
Whisk the warm water, yeast and sugar together. You can start this process by hand in a mixing bowl or in your stand mixer with a dough hook. I personally love doing it by hand.
Cover the water, yeast and sugar and let rest for about five minutes. You are looking for the yeast to activate and getting foamy. If this doesn't happen after five minutes, it may take a little longer with the temperature in your kitchen (colder = longer)
Once the yeast mixture has been activated, add in the olive oil and salt. Mix around.
Add in flour. If you're doing this with the mixer you can mix it together on low speed. If it becomes too much you will need to take it out and knead the dough on a floured surface. If you're doing it by hand, you will want to mix it until is incorporated and a dough is starting to form. Then take out and knead on a flour surface for five minutes.
Once you've kneaded the dough and created a soft dough ball, you can place the ball in a lightly greased bowl (the same one you started in works perfectly). Gently toss the ball around to make sure it is fully coated in oil.
Place plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel over the bowl (I generally just use a plate on top of the bowl)!
Let the dough rise for 60 - 90 minutes or until it's doubled in size. Remember, the colder your kitchen the longer it takes!
When your dough has doubled, preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Favorite part! After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down to let the air out. Divide the dough in half for two 12-inch pizzas (or divide it more for smaller pizzas).
Roll the dough out on a slightly floured surface using your hands and rolling pin.
Dust your pizza stone with cornmeal and transfer your round pizza dough to the stone.
Using a form, poke quite a few holes around the dough to prevent air bubbles when baking.
Bake for 5 - 7 minutes. This time depends greatly on your oven. At this point, you are just partially baking the crust. Starting to brown around the edges is ok, but you are not looking for a golden crust!
Now that you have parbaked pizza crust, you have a few different options. But before we get into those options... here are a few notes about the instructions.
If you don't have a dough whisk, you should consider getting one. They have them all over amazon, but I snagged this one from The Food Nanny. I can dream that one day Junky Janko Market will have one!
I love mixing by hand, this is a recipe that you need to enjoy making. I personally think that the stand mixer takes a little away from that. Put a little love into the crust!
I've made all sorts of sizes. Personal sized pizzas are perfect for the girls. A medium size for McKinley or I and then the shareable/Josh size. Make whatever size is best for your family!
Yellow Corn meal is a must. Do not skip this. While it serves a great purpose of preventing the dough from sticking to the stone, the greater purpose might be the little (sweet) crunch it adds to pizza crust!
Back to the three options you have now with parbaked crust:
Make pizza right away. You've created your canvas, now get to assembling your favorite pizza. While skies the limit with pizza creations, one rule in this house is that olive oil and chopped garlic must be put onto the crust prior to red sauce.
Homemade frozen pizza. In my experience, it's always worked best to let the parbaked crust cool and then flash freeze. Once the crust is frozen, you can assemble your pizza however you desire. Obviously, if you're going for a fresher style pizza - now isn't the time. Check option 3 for that! Once you've assembled your pizza wrap it up really good in plastic wrap and freeze away. Tip: I have also put the plastic wrapped pizza into gallon or jumbo size zip lock bags for extra protection.
I will tell you that I made four frozen pizzas the first time around and Josh and I swore we would never buy a frozen pizza again. Seriously, whatever frozen pizza you have lived by in the past will not be a contender for homemade frozen pizza.
Parbaked Pizza Crust. While these require a little more effort than taking out a frozen pizza and tossing it in the oven, they have their purpose. They are perfect for the fresher style pizza. You know, the ones with baby spinach and arugula! But in this house, they get the most love when they are used for "round two recipes." Parbaked pizza crusts are the perfect dumping grounds for your leftovers.... here are some staples around here.
Left over taco meat turned into taco pizza
Left over chicken turned into a barbecue pizza
Hello mac and cheese pizza
And... equally important, don't forget nights where you feel like stepping outside of the box. Josh wanted BLTs for dinner one night & instead I made a garlic aioli for the pizza base and topped it with cooked bacon and parmesan cheese. Once it was out of the oven, I topped it with shredded lettuce and a drizzle of olive oil.
Final note: every aspect/step of your pizza should be seasoned. You can season the crust, season the base, season the toppings and top it at the end. And two things about seasoning. One, I am not talking about salt. Two, a little goes along way. You are just trying to elevate some ingredients, not trying to take over the dish/pizza. Here are some ideas:
Dough - Italian seasoning
Crust - olive oil and garlic
Sauce - jazzing up your traditional red sauce with some basil
Lastly, think about how you could top the cooked pizza, this is where you could add some salt - especially something like a flake sea salt. Or, if you want to be wild a drizzle of Mike's Hot Honey!
As I keep typing "Final Note" I realize there is more to be said. If you're reheating leftover pizza in the microwave, you're doing it all wrong. Get a frying pan on the stove top with a medium to high heat. Let it heat up a little and then throw your leftover pizza in the pan. The hot pan and heat gives the pizza crust the opportunity to get crispy again. Once it crisps up nicely, put a few drops of water on the outside of the pan and throw a lid on. The steam will generate enough heat to melt your toppings. This is seriously a game change in the lef over pizza world!