I’ve been making pizzas at home for years and thought I’d share a few tips for how to make a homemade pizza. Before I had a pizza stone, I pressed the dough into a jelly roll pan or patted it into a circle on top of a cookie sheet. (You can also use the back of a cookie sheet instead of a pizza peel to slide the pizza onto something else to bake.)
I have a page of pizza recipes here, with recipes for different doughs and recipes for sauces and toppings. I keep experimenting and playing around. My old pizza stone finally broke this year. Apparently that happens. Mine got a lot of use! I did some research on stone. I saw these new metal baking “stones”, at least they’re new to me. And then I went to one of the fancy non-chain local shops that carries lots of baking stuff and I ended up buying this rectangular baking stone that can go on the grill, too. I liked that it had handles because that had been an issue with the old stone. And the lady at the shop said she made all kinds of things on it. So far I’ve jut made pizza. 😉 But it’s good pizza! And I do plan to experiment on it.
I picked up a used copy of American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza (Amazon) recently. I’ve learned some new tricks and have two new favorite pizza dough recipes.
The first tip was to preheat your oven and stone for at least an hour at the highest temperature your oven can go, which is 500F for me. I had always preheated the oven but I had not thought about how long it would take for the stone to absorb that heat. This has made a big difference I think.
Homemade Pizza Dough
Pizza dough is not hard to make. You can mix it up by hand, in a breadmaker, or in your stand mixer. In a pinch, you can buy dough ready-made from various grocers. In a pinch you can also skip the rising part and just mix it up, flatten it out and make your pizza.
Reinhart has you make up the dough the day before you want to bake pizza and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. Most of his dough recipes make enough for 3-4 small pizzas so I mix up a batch of dough, let one sit overnight in the refrigerator and freeze the other ones in ziplock freezer bags. The next time I make pizza, I pull a bag of dough out of the refrigerator and let it thaw on the counter half a day or so. Once, I suddenly had 4 people for pizza dinner instead of 2 so I pulled another bag of dough out of the refrigerator and thawed it in the microwave on defrost. That worked, too!
I’ve tried four or five different pizza doughs from the book and my favorite is one that can hold a lot of toppings. I tend to go for multiple topping pizzas so the super thin crusts don’t work very well. (Although I do like to make super thin one or two ingredient small pizzettas for parties.) This is my current favorite recipe for homemade pizza dough and is different because of the milk.
Reinhart’s Pizza Americana Dough
- 5 cups 22 1/2 ounces bread flour
- 3 Tablespoons sugar or honey
- 2 teaspoons table salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 cup milk
- 3/4 cup water
- In a stand mixer, add all the ingredients and put on the dough hook. Mix on low speed for 4 minutes or so, until the dough has made a coarse ball.
- Let the dough rest 5 minutes, then mix again on medium low speed for 2 more minutes. If the dough seems too soft, you can add a small bit of flour. Alternatively, if it’s not holding together, add a tablespoon of water at a time. The dough should be slightly sticky and soft. (You can also mix this by hand. Follow the same guidelines for resting the dough.)
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces and shape each into a ball. Rub a bit of olive oil all over each ball. I usually put one ball of dough at a time back into the bowl and rub the olive oil on it and spin the ball around a bit so it gets covered all over.)
- Package each ball into a ziplock bag and let sit on the counter for 15 minutes, then refrigerate or freeze. If you’re going to make the pizzas day, let them sit on the counter for an hour, punch down and reshape into balls, then refrigerate until about 2 hours before you’re going to make the pizza.
- Preheat your oven with the stone in it at the highest temperature, usually 500F, for at least an hour.
- Get all your toppings and sauce together. Precook anything you’re going to cook. (I like to precook mushrooms, sometimes onions. sometimes the pepperoni, definitely sausage.)
- Pat or toss the pizza into a 10-12″ roughly round shape.
- If you’re adventurous, you can put cornmeal or flour onto your pizza peel. I’m not that coordinated and tend to get cornmeal all over the oven when I slide the pizza in. I like to put a square of parchment paper on the peel, build the pizza on that and slide it all, paper and pizza, onto the stone. After 5 minutes, use the peel to lift the pizza up a bit and remove the parchment paper. Continue cooking until the pizza is done, probably another 5 minutes or so. Remove it with the peel.
- If you like a crispy crust, let the pizza cool on a baking rack so air gets under it. Otherwise, slide it onto your cutting board and let it cool a few minutes before you slice it.
The choice of toppings and sauces is limited only by your imagination, as they say. Every now and then I make a white pizza but I usually stick with a red sauce. Last night I just heated up a can of tomato sauce seasoned with some salt and a dried Italian mix of herbs plus some red pepper flakes. In the summer, I’ve been known to just thinly slice fresh tomatoes from the garden and build the pizza on top of them.
Lately, I’ve been playing with precooking some of the topping ingredients, like mushrooms and onions. I’ve also been cooking pepperoni slices a bit. This releases some of the grease and gives the pepperoni and nice crispy texture. I’ve done the same with salami and chicken apple sausage slices. Bulk Italian sausage I always precook before putting on the pizza.
And this is for Cindy, because she likes videos!