Is there any meal that gathers the family around the table more than a piping-hot pizza pie? A staple of children's diets (OK, we'll admit it, adults' diets too), there's just something comforting about the simple pizza pie. And while calling for delivery is quick and easy, making your own with your kids is easier than you'd expect and tastier than anything that comes through the front door.
While kneading dough and waiting for it to rise sounds complicated, the process is easier than imagined — if done correctly. "I've always found making pizza at home to be frustrating, particularly when it comes to the crust," Patricia Wong from Farm to Table Baby Mama says. "The truth is, most home ovens aren't hot enough to rival the woodfired pizzas at Italian restaurants."
So Patricia turned to her brother-in-law, who spent years working on a crust recipe to create an authentic Italian version, and Joe Vitale, of Joe's Pizza in LA, for a pizza-tossing lesson to perfect her homemade version. "This crust is chewy in the center, crispy on the outside, and full of flavor, thanks to generous amounts of salt and olive oil," she says. "Just remember to crank up the oven as high as it will go, and most importantly, don't be shy tossing the pizza dough. A perfectly round crust is so not essential."
Watch the video of one of her favorite versions above, and see the recipe below, because Summer is the perfect time to get creative with your pie!
For the Crust
(Start the night before you intend to make the pizzas)
267 grams (1 1/8 cups) room-temperature water
1/4 (heaping) teaspoon instant yeast or 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1 teaspoon salt
392 grams (3 1/2 cups) bread flour
Pizza stone (optional)
Simple Pizza Sauce
1 15-ounce can peeled tomatoes, unsalted
1 teaspoon sugar (or more, to taste)
1 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
Low-moisture mozzarella, cut into thin slices
Fresh garlic cloves, cut into thin slices
Fresh basil leaves
For the Crust
- The night before: Combine water and yeast in a mixing bowl. Follow with olive oil and salt. Add in bread flour, and mix until combined into a loose ball shape. Coat all over with a light coating of olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel, and allow to rise overnight in a cupboard or pantry.
- The day of: Knead dough on a floured surface until firm and elastic. Form dough into 3 balls, and allow to rest on your work surface, covered with a clean kitchen towel or under a large bowl, for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Stretch individual balls into pizza shapes, beginning by using fingers to poke down the center of the crust, leaving a slightly thicker edge for the outside crust of the pizza. Once you've formed the basic shape, toss pizza back and forth from one fist to the other, until dough has stretched slightly. Finish by forming one hand into a fist, draping pizza dough over it and keeping it stationary, using the other hand, also in a fist, to rotate the dough in a circular pattern along the first fist. This process is better explained visually, so be sure to use the video for reference!
- Preheat your oven to 500°F or as high as it will go. If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven to preheat. Meanwhile, make the sauce and get your toppings ready.
For the Sauce
- Break up tomatoes in a bowl using a wooden spoon or potato masher.
- Add in salt and sugar, adjusting amounts to your taste.
Assembly and Baking
- Brush outside perimeter of dough rounds with olive oil in order to get a crispy brown crust.
- Top pizza dough rounds with enough sauce to lightly coat (be careful not to oversauce), extending sauce just up until the outside edge. Add mozzarella and garlic cloves, if desired.
- If you have a pizza stone, use a pizza peel or nonrimmed baking sheet dusted with semolina flour to transfer pizza into preheated oven onto the stone. Otherwise, transfer the pizza onto a baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.
- Finish by topping pizza with basil leaves and extra salt, if desired.
- If you have a kitchen scale, use the gram measurements, as the scale will be more accurate than using measuring cups. If you don't have a scale, no sweat. Go ahead and use the cup measurements.
- Trust your instincts! A lot can change depending on the humidity in the air. If your dough seems unreasonably dry, go ahead and add a tablespoon of water at a time until it comes together. If it's way too wet, add in small amounts of flour until the dough forms a loose ball (keep in mind, this is a sticky dough).
- Pizza, Main Dishes
- 3 12-inch pizzas