Thoughts, ideas and memories of photography, cooking & the outdoors (not in that order!)

Homemade Pizza

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I’ve been working on bringing up my pizza game lately and think I have it mostly nailed down to a point where I’m satisfied for now.  There were a number of learning lessons over the years, and while it’s fun to improve things having your hard work (and dinner!) turn to a pile of mush is frustrating.

I keep my recipes in Pepperplate and just finally got around to writing the recipe down and typing it up…  usually everything is eyeballed and trying to remember what worked & didn’t from last time.  I *think* that anyone can see my recipe if they have an account (if so it’s here – http://www.pepperplate.com/recipes/view.aspx?id=20046722), but for everyone else I will put the information below.

Next steps will be trying dough from scratch.  This will probably be tackled with homemade pasta attempts 🙂

(Mostly) Homemade Pizza

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 x 16oz pizza dough, I use premade ones from Trader Joe’s
  • Cornmeal or my preferred approach, parchment paper
  • Pizza stone, baking sheet may work with adjustments
  • Pizza peel or extra baking sheet for prep and sliding into oven

Sauce

  • 1 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes (way more then necessary, but I save leftovers for pasta)
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic power
  • ~1 1/4 tsp salt (30 turns of large salt grinder)
  • ~1 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper (ditto)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda (optional, to cut acid)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Blender, preferably immersion

 Cheese

  • 1 block of whole-milk mozzarella (16 oz)
  • Cheese grater
  • Mandolin, optional

 Toppings

  • 1 onion, sliced thinly (1/8″)
  • 8 oz packaged mushrooms, sliced thinly (1/8″)
  • Sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
  • Fresh basil

Instructions

Preheat oven to ~450. Place pizza stone or baking sheet in. Warm up oven for at least 45-60 min (especially if using a stone, maybe even 90 min).

Sauce

Empty tomatoes into bowl. Add generous amounts of olive oil, I typically pour my bottle for about 5 seconds. Add dried herbs & garlic. Add salt & pepper, the amounts I used are guessed, typically about 30 turns of my salt and pepper grinders. Add sugar and baking soda if desired. Blend everything with immersion (or other) blender until well mixed. Adjust to taste as preferred. Set aside.

Cheese

Grate cheese, place in bowl. 16oz package will be enough for 2 pizzas.

Toppings

The toppings are up to you, but this is what I prefer. Whatever you use make sure they are sliced thinly, especially moreso for any meat.

Peel onion, slice cross-sectioned thinly to 1/8″ (a mandolin makes this easy). Do the same for mushrooms (mandolin works less awesome on these) and other ingredients. Set aside each topping into an individual bowl.

Dough

Remove from refrigerator and place in bowl or on floured surface, cover with towel and let rise at least 2, but no more then 4 hours.

Once ready to start, place a dough ball on floured surface and press out with fingers going around a few times until enlarged. Once bigger, pick up dough and hold up with both hands closed to fists, working your way around the dough. Let gravity do the work to stretch it out. Form a crust ridge on the edge of the dough if not already here. Place on pizza peel or baking sheet with either parchment paper or cornmeal underneath (this makes it easy to slide off onto stone in oven). This video was helpful to me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lz-Yr1q-fKM

Spoon out no more then 1/4c sauce onto dough; less is more. Use back of spoon/ladle to distribute evenly. It’s very important that a small amount of sauce is used – it should be very thin coverage; otherwise you’ll have a soggy mushy puddle in the middle of your pizza which is unappetizing. For TJ’s 16oz dough formed to a thin crust a little less then 1/4c works perfectly.

Add grated cheese. You can be more generous here, don’t go crazy but full coverage over the pizza is basically what you want.

Add toppings. It’s important these are thinly sliced as they will cook in the right amount of time and also not cover up the pizza from receiving heat to melt the cheese.

Slice pizza off peel onto stone, or sheet onto sheet, etc. Use of parchment paper or cornmeal makes this trivial. Cook for ~12-15 min or until cheese starts to brown. You should also check the bottom of the dough by lifting along the edge with a spatula. It should be brown and the dough should be solid, as in not bend in half when you lift an edge.

Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.

Notes

The key things that brought my pizza game up to the next level were the use of parchment paper, whole-milk mozzarella and a minimum amount of sauce. I’ve had many pizzas-turned-to-calzones as they refused to slide off the peel and collapsed into a pile. Part-skim cheese just doesn’t taste the same way and seems to have an odd texture and look when it cools. And I’ve had several pizzas that were soggy in the middle because of too much sauce. Luckily, a fix is easy; if a puddle of liquid seems to form, take a paper towel, roll into a small cylinder and blot/soak up the extra liquid with the tip. If you catch this before it’s too late it works fine, usually it forms when the cheese begins to melt.

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