Pizza Night!

Last night, I did something amazing. I made pizza, completely from scratch. I know, I know. It’s not like I climbed a mountain or anything. But for me, it was awesome.

While Dan took a short three hour nap (har har), I went to the grocery store, made pizza dough AND pizza sauce. Making pizza dough is pretty easy. I used a recipe I found from Pinterest that had lots of great tips for beginners. I let the dough rise for way over the one and a half hours the recipe called for, because I had to go to the barn and also we just weren’t ready for dinner yet. Holy moly, it rose so much! It was so cool to watch.

Since I’m a Newb at the whole blogging thing, I of course only took a “before” picture. I got too excited to play with the now really fluffy dough, that I forgot to take an “after” picture. But, here’s what it started out looking like:

By the time it was finished rising, it was touching the plastic wrap and probably would have spilled over the bowl if I’d given it much longer. So crazy.

The sauce was really tasty and easy to make. It required lots of chopping, but I never mind that. The best part was that all the herbs I used were fresh from my garden! I get so excited when I can use my parsley and basil.

I threw it all into a skillet and cooked down the veggies until soft and then added a 28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes (shredded by hand, and let it simmer for close to 45 minutes. The recipe called for less time, but I wanted a thicker sauce. I also added two extra teaspoons of tomato paste.

Then, like I said, I took a multiple hour break. Oops! It’s okay though, because the sauce keeps well, the dough had time to rise, and I had time to go to the barn. Win, win, win. When we were finally ready to assemble, everything came together rather nicely. Well, almost everything.

We spread out the dough, plopped on the toppings, and were ready to transfer it onto the hot pan. WAY easier said than done. We didn’t use enough corn meal so the dough was sort of sticking to the bottom of the pan. Plus, I didn’t think to use the flat side of the pan or a cutting board for easier access, so it was nearly impossible to slide the pizza onto the hot pan. It got a little misshapen, but it was still delicious!

So, here’s what I learned:

1. This recipe makes TWO pizzas worth of dough and sauce, when one was more than enough for the two of us. If you want, you can probably half it.

2. Baking sheets work just as well as pizza pans, and they don’t have to be preheated.

3. I really want a pizza stone.

4. Use lots of corn meal and a flat surface.

5. I need to (a) get a better camera, (b) learn how to take better pictures on my iPhone, or (c) both.

Now for those of you who don’t care about my life and just want the recipe:

Slightly adapted from Simply Recipes

For the sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot or 1/2 large carrot, finely chopped (I used about 4 baby carrots)
  • 1 small stalk of celery, including the green tops, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, including the juice, or 1 3/4 pound of fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 3 teaspoon tomato paste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Warm 2 tbs olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. (Make sure you have a lid that fits! I had to use a baking sheet.) Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, and parsley. Make sure the olive oil coats the veggie mixture, and reduce the heat, cover, and cook for 15-20 minuts. I kept my heat on about 5, but my stove is temperamental. You’ll want to be able to hear it cooking, but make sure you can leave it unattended for a few moments at a time without burning so that the onions get nice and translucent, and the carrots and celery get mostly soft. Feel free to stir occasionally.
  2. After your veggies are nice and soft, remove the cover and add your minced garlic. Garlic cooks (read: burns) REALLY fast, so only leave it in there for about 30 seconds. Once your garlic has been incorporated, add the tomatoes, including the juice. You’ll want to add the tomatoes one at a time, because the idea is to shred them with your fingers so all the juicy goodness from their insides goes straight into your sauce. Add the tomato paste and the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Bring to a low simmer, reduce the heat and cook, uncovered until thickened. The original recipe says low heat, but again, I kept mine on about a 5. It also says 15 minutes, but mine was probably simmering for more like 30-45. I like a thicker sauce, so I wanted to cook out a lot of the moisture. I liked the sort of chunky consistency of the sauce (it was like having tomatoes on my pizza!) but if you want a smoother consistency, you could use an immersion blender of food processor.

This was way more than enough sauce for the two pizzas, so I saved the leftovers for crust dipping!

For the dough (makes enough for two 10-12 inch pizzas)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (105°F-115°F)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour (can use all-purpose but bread flour will give you a crisper crust)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Making the dough:

  1. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, add the warm water. Sprinkle on the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes until the yeast dissolves itself into the water. I had to stir at the end of 5 minutes to completely dissolve.
  2. Attach a mixing paddle to the mixer. Mix in the olive oil, flour, salt, and sugar on low speed for about a minute. (I don’t have a mixing paddle, so I tried using the regular attachments. They did not work. I used my hands for this step.) Remove the paddle and replace with dough hook. Knead using the mixer and dough hook on low to medium speed, until the dough is smooth and elastic. You can also do this step by hand. Add more flour if the dough seems too wet.
  3. Lightly coat a bowl with olive oil, and place the ball of dough in it. Make sure the dough gets fully coated with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place (75-85 F) until it doubles in size, about 1 to 1.5 hours. Like I said, I let mine rise for much longer and it was just fine. If you don’t have a warm spot in the house you can heat the oven to 150 degrees, and then turn off the oven. Let the oven cool till it is just a little warm, then place the bowl of dough in this warmed oven to rise.

At this point, if you want to make ahead, you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Assembling your pizza:

Pizza ingredients: (feel free to use whatever toppings you want!)

  • Olive oil
  • Cornmeal (to slide the pizza onto the pizza stone)
  • Tomato sauce (purée)
  • Mozzarella or and Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • Bell peppers, stems and seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • Chopped fresh basil
  • Onions, thinly sliced
  1. Place pizza stone (if you have one) on a rack in the lower third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 450 for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour. (I skipped this step).
  2. Remove the plastic wrap from the dough, and punch the dough down so it deflates. I made the mistake of not putting flour or corn meal on my hand first, and it was a sticky mess. Divide the dough in half and form two round balls of dough.
  3. Prepare your toppings. The less sauce/toppings, the crispier the crust. But I loaded them on pretty thick anyway 🙂
  4. Take one ball of dough and flatten it with your hands on a floured or corn meal-ed surface. Starting at the center, use your fingertips to press the dough to 1/2 inch thick. You should be able to stretch it out to the desired 10-12 inch diameter. If you want a lip for the crust, you can pinch one with your fingers.
  5. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil, so your toppings don’t make your dough soggy.
  6. Sprinkle your pizza peel (or flat baking sheet) with corn meal. I did not use enough corn meal for this step, apparently. Move your dough onto the peel or baking sheet and assemble away. Tomato sauce, cheese, toppings, delicious!
  7. Here’s where I just gave up and baked it on the baking sheet. If you’re using a pizza stone, you can sprinkle some cornmeal on the stone in the oven and gently transfer the pizza from the peel or sheet to the stone in the oven. Bake one pizza at a time until the crust is browned and the cheese is golden, about 10-15 minutes.
  8. I absolutely added more cheese in the last 3 minutes of cooking.

Sorry for this monstrously long post. I guess I’ll have to work on my brevity if I want people to actually, you know, read what I write.

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5 Comments

Filed under Recipes

5 responses to “Pizza Night!

  1. great post ~ i just made an entry talking about the sticky factor, a pizzeria owner told me to use a ton of flour and then lift an edge of the pie and blow underneath it ~ it works!

  2. Jennie

    Hi hi. We have a pizza stone we have never, ever used. Would you like to try it for next time?

  3. Jennie

    Oh yes, also yay blogging.

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