Pizza is one of those things that people grow accustomed to eating out or getting delivered. Pizza places are just so ubiquitous and it’s unbelievably easy (by design, of course) to call Dominos or Papa Johns, so even folks who regularly cook at home don’t bother trying to concoct their own. However, doing it at home can not only produce delicious results, but can also be extremely economical.
My mom introduced me to pizza-making. She’d make huge batches of sauce and freeze it in plastic containers (I think they were containers from store-bought cake icing, I’m a little embarrassed to admit — but they were the perfect size). Each container was enough for a single pizza.
I recall my husband’s surprise the first time I made pizza at home. He loved it. Now, the kids feel the same. It has the added advantage — like quiche — of having endless variations, so you can throw something new together depending on what kind of meat, veggies and cheese you happen to have on hand at the time.
I know foodies talk about pizza crust that you have to make the day before, and, to be honest, I’d love to have that luxury. Maybe someday I’ll give it a shot. But I’m usually cooking for two hungry boys and my husband (not to mention myself), and I’m always trying to balance delicious results with efficiency. There’s only so much time between getting home from work and the dinner bell. So my pizza dough takes about an hour and a half — using my bread maker. The “recipe” I’m sharing today was what I used on a recent evening. Pictures are from that night, too. I made three variations on that night — two smaller veggie-oriented pizzas for myself and the hubby, and a larger tomato-sauced one for the kids.
Start with the crust – about an hour and a half before you plan to serve.
Recipe: Easy Pizza (With Dough In the Bread Machine)
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons SAF yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
- For the toppings: olive oil or tomato sauce, other toppings (see below)
- Place all the ingredients in the bread machine in the order recommended by your machine’s manufacturer. Program for the dough or pizza dough cycle and press start.
- When the cycle is done, turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Divide into the desired number of portions and flatten each portion into a disc.
- Rest for 30 minutes.
- Then roll out and shape the dough into the desired number of pizzas. I use cookie sheets — sprayed with cooking spray — and either stretch the dough out to cover two small sheets (for “grandma” style deep dish), or work them into vaguely oval shapes.
- While the dough is making or resting, work on your toppings. Before you do, pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Toppings should always be placed on the dough in this order:
- Tomato sauce or olive oil (I usually use Classico brand jarred spaghetti sauce)
- Veggies and meat
Here are some of my more common toppings and how I prepare them before putting them on the pizza.
- Onions: slice into rings and sauteé in a little olive oil until they are super soft and caramelized. This takes quite a long time but be patient. It is worth it.
- Zucchini: slice very thin and sauteé in olive oil until they are soft and browned a little.
- Sliced ham or turkey (for us, usually from the deli and originally intended for sandwiches): cut or tear into pieces and sautee until it browns a little.
- Chicken sausage: cut into small pieces and sauteé until it browns a little.
- Mushrooms: slice thin and sauteé in olive oil until they’ve given up all of their water.
- Part-skim mozzarella: grated.
- Parmesan: freshly grated.
- Put it all together. Put it in the oven and bake for 15 or 20 minutes. Just keep a good eye on it and remove when the dough is golden brown and the cheese in the center is melted. Enjoy!