There is a reason that Ellen DeGeneres ordered pizza during the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony. Who doesn’t love pizza, anywhere, anytime? No doubt you’d like to know the secrets to making a great tasting pizza. Welcome to Pizza 101. No dialing required.
Classic Pizza Dough
- 2 c hot tap water
- 2 T sugar (Use 3 tablespoons for whole wheat dough.)
- 2 T dry active yeast
- 4-5 c flour, unbleached, all-purpose
- 3 T olive oil, divided
- 2 t sea salt
Preheat oven with pizza stone, if you have one, at 500F. If not, use any flat baking tray.
Mix the sugar into the water in a large bowl. Add yeast to sugar-water. Leave it to rise and bubble for 10 minutes.
Add 2 cups of flour to the yeast mixture and stir slowly, scooping down the sides of the bowl. Mix to slightly lumpy. Add an additional cup of flour, then 1/2 cup more, and 1/2 cup more, mixing it in with a wooden spoon. Then, use your hands to fold the dough and add small amounts of flour until it barely sticks to your hands.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt into the dough. Form into a ball in the bottom of your mixing bowl and cover the exposed top with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then plastic wrap or parchment. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and leave for 45 minutes to rise.
Mediterranean Pizza Toppings
- tomato sauce (Mix a can of chopped tomatoes with an equal amount of tomato sauce, adding salt, pepper, a few minced garlic cloves and Italian seasoning.)
- chopped chunky roasted vegetables: red pepper, red onion, mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, asparagus (Add a little olive oil, salt, pepper and herb seasoning before roasting.)
- grated mozzarella (If including other cheeses, always use some mozzarella to make them melt.)
Rolling out the dough
Put a handful—one-quarter— of the dough on a floured surface. Coat both sides of the flattened dough and your rolling-pin with a little flour. Roll and flip the dough several times, creating a thin crust of any shape. Place crust on a sheet of parchment paper sprinkled with a little semolina.
Put a little tomato sauce on the dough – about 3 heaping tablespoons. Sprinkle on a few grilled vegetables. Cover with a light dusting of cheese. Cook pizza at 500F for 5 – 8 minutes until crust begins to brown and cheese is bubbling. Remove from oven and let pizza set a few minutes before slicing. Makes 4 pizzas. Serves 8.
- Pizza 101 is inspired by pizza maven, Melanie McCready and my foodie buddy, Liz Joffe. They have years of experience drawing people together over their perfect pizzas.
- You can roll out and freeze dough and even freeze toppings (except for fresh tomato slices).
- You can make pizza in advance, freeze it, then cook if frozen, if your oven is hot.
- Freeze extra tomato sauce and grated cheese.
- Are you curious about using metal bowls and utensils for pizza dough?
- The Paupered Chef can tell you how to make your own pizza stone for just $3.