Homemade Pizza Party

It’s pizza time. Here I’m going to share with you my favorite recipe for homemade pizza dough, along with some tips and tricks on how to create your own tasty pizzas at home — no wood-fired oven required!

Photo by Vincent Rivaud on Pexels.com

The Dough

My favorite recipe for homemade pizza dough is King Arthur Flour’s The Easiest Pizza You’ll Ever Make (click here).

To make it simple, I’ve transcribed it for you here, replacing the very specific King Arthur products with generic ingredients you can pick up at any supermarket.

The recipe yields enough dough for four 12″ pizzas. If you are cooking for less than four people, you can either cut the recipe in half or make the full recipe and save half the dough for later (recommended). The dough can then be used to make your own calzones or flatbreads! (Scroll to bottom to see my flatbread.)

The dough needs 1-2 hours of rest time to rise. To make pizza night a breeze, I recommend making the dough the day before, allowing the full rise time, then covering the dough and storing in the refrigerator. Let the dough come to room temp for about 30 minutes before making pizzas.

Dough before Rise

Dough after Rise

Fun tip: To make a cheese stuffed crust, follow the recipe below. Once you have your dough rolled out and shaped, sprinkle cheese along the outer edge of the crust. Then bring the dough up and over the cheese, sealing it in. Repeat around the whole dough so it is encased in a ring of tasty cheese.

The Oven

Have you avoided making pizza at home because you think you don’t have the right equipment? Today’s your lucky day! All you need is a working oven and a baking sheet to make tasty pizza at home.

If using a conventional oven, don’t be afraid to turn up the heat. The best pizzas are made in wood-fired ovens that get up to 800-900 degrees. Now, I don’t advise turning your oven up THAT high, but don’t be scared to crank it up to 475 either. In the recipe below, I recommend 450 but feel free to adjust as necessary. Every oven is different and you know yours the best!

My grandfather (Papa G) taught me how to make pizzas using a conventional oven and a pizza pan. Making pizza at home should be about who you are making it with and for, about experimenting with what you like and having fun. No fancy equipment required!

Always fit the dough to your pan. Whether its a pizza pan, wood-fired pizza oven, or just a standard rectangular baking sheet, let the pan dictate what shape the pizza will be. If your unsure your pizza will fit on the pan, grab your desired pan and hold it over the dough to get an eyeball measurement. Nothing like making a round pizza for a rectangular pan!

If baking pizza on a sheet pan, oil the dough and bake at 425 for 5-10 minutes, until barely golden before adding sauce and toppings. This will ensure your dough bakes all the way through without burning the toppings.

The Toppings

This is 100% a personal choice. If you are a DIY pizza newbie, I’d recommend sticking with pizzas you know and like, say try making a basic pepperoni with some sliced peppers. This will help you get a feel for how much sauce, cheese and toppings to add and how to wield the dough. Once you grow more confident in your pizza making abilities, I encourage you to try any and ALL of the toppings!

Remember, this is YOUR pizza. No one can tell you no! Here’s a list of some of my personal favorite pizza toppings, in no particular order:

  • Caramelized onions
  • Grilled eggplant and/or zuchinni
  • Roasted garlic
  • Any kind of cured meat — salami, pepperoni, calabrese, capicola etc.
  • Roasted peppers
  • Precooked crumbled sausage
  • Soft cheeses like ricotta and mozzarella
  • Stinky cheeses like blue cheese and feta

Some toppings are best added after the pizza cooks like fresh herbs such as basil or other leafy greens like arugula.

If your cured meats are sliced very thinly, I recommend placing them directly on the sauce and adding everything else (including cheese) on top. The other toppings create a protective layer so the thin sliced meat (which most likely contains lots of fat that will rapidly burn at high temperatures) will not char while the pizza is cooking. *Speaking here from experience: I recently added thin-sliced speck to the top of a pizza and it burned almost instantly. Oopsies.

For hosting a pizza party, prep all of your toppings in advance. This is a great way to keep things going smoothly once everyone gets in the kitchen. Slice all the meat, shred all the cheese, grill all the vegetables.

P.S. I do recommend pre-cooking vegetables that are going on the pizza. Most vegetables take longer to cook than the pizza will be in the oven. To avoid half-cooked vegetables, cook them beforehand!

A quick note on PIZZA SAUCE: use what you prefer! To make a white pizza, use a nice alfredo. Pick up a jar of pesto from Trader Joes to make a pesto pizza, or a regular jar of your favorite red pasta sauce for a stellar pizza sauce. The sauce on the pizza doesn’t need to be “pizza sauce” specifically. I find the best pizzas are made with sauces you typically put on a nice plate of pasta.

Traditional Wood-Fired pizza.

The Final Word

Please don’t be scared away by the large word count of this pizza recipe!!! My goal is to walk you through each and every step providing details, recommendations and words of warning. Hopefully this will make the process easier and less intimidating. You too, can make delicious pizzas at home!

Sheet Pan pizza made in a conventional oven.

The Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 TB granulated sugar
  • 1 TB active dry yeast or instant yeast or 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 TB salt
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 5.5 – 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 TB dried italian seasoning blend, or a total of 2 TB of your favorite dried herbs such as a combination of oregano, basil, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder etc.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Dissolve the sugar, yeast and salt in the lukewarm water. Mix it well, then leave it be for about 3 minutes to let the yeast “bloom.”
  2. Measure the flour, olive oil and seasonings into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and water mixture. Mix up with your hands until you form a nice shaggy dough.
  3. From here, you can transfer to a mixer fitted with a dough hook or a bread machine set to the dough cycle and knead for 7 to 10 minutes. My preferred method is to keep it simple and knead the dough with your hands, using your knuckles to incorporate all of the flour into the wet mixture. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold the dough in on itself. Add more flour if necessary, a tablespoon at a time. The dough is ready when it is smooth and elastic, with no dry spots.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Rub some EVOO on top to keep the dough moist. Drape a thin cotton cloth loosely over the top of the bowl. This prevents outside contamination while the dough rises. Allow the dough to rise for a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 2 hours.
  5. To deflate the dough, punch it down gently. Transfer to a large wooden board and cut the dough ball into four pieces. Cover lightly with the thin cotton cloth and allow it to rest another twenty minutes for best results (if you are short on time you can skip this part). If you are not planning on using all four dough portions at this moment, now is the time to properly store the dough. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for later use.
  6. Time to shape the dough! Here’s the fun part. Shape the dough however you like. I prefer using my hands, tossing the dough and rotating it so that gravity does most of the work for me. You are also welcome to use a rolling pin if that is more comfortable. I encourage you to experiment and see what you like best. Remember: your pizza doesn’t have to be a perfect circle — nor should it be!
  7. Sprinkle cornmeal on your desired pizza cooking surface. If it’s going into a woodfired oven, use a copious amount of cornmeal (like almost too much) on the pizza peel for easy transfer into the oven. If you are using pizza pans in the oven, not as much cornmeal is necessary. Lastly, if you are simply using a baking sheet, a piece of parchment will work just fine to protect your pan and the pizza.
  8. If you are using a WOOD-FIRED PIZZA OVEN: Prep the oven, get it up to temp. Shape the dough, then transfer onto a pizza peel with a lot of cornmeal. Add your sauce, cheese and any desired toppings. Cook the pizza for 3-5 minutes, turning frequently and keeping an eye on the temperature.
  9. If you are using a CONVENTIONAL OVEN: Heat the oven to 450 degrees. If you are using a pizza stone, place it in the oven before turning the oven on. Shape the pizzas and place them on the pizza pans or on your baking sheets. Brush lightly with olive oil. Send the pizzas into the oven for a little prebake, about 7 minutes. Remove the pizzas from the oven, and place on a heat resistant surface. Deflate any air bubbles that may have risen. Add your sauce, cheese and any desired toppings. Place the pizza back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so, checking for desired doneness.
  10. Transfer the pizzas to a large wood cutting board or other stable cutting surface. I don’t recommend slicing directly on the pizza peels or pans, as this causes much wear and tear. Use a rotary slicer, big pizza cutter or a pair of scissors to cut your pizza.

ENJOY!

Pizza slingin’ since 2001.

One thought on “Homemade Pizza Party

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