Almost everyone LOVES pizza, and homemade pizza is not only delicious, but fun and easy to make. If you have children, they can help you to knead and shape the dough. You can even make small individual pizzas instead of larger ones, and everyone can enjoy “decorating” and eating their own personal pizza.
Ingredients for basic pizza dough:
2 1/4 teaspoons or 1 package dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/3 cups warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons wheat gluten (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Pour the warm water into a small bowl, stir in the honey and sprinkle the yeast over the surface. Set this aside until the yeast dissolves and the mixture begins to foam (about 3 to 5 minutes). Stir if needed to dissolve all of the yeast.
2. Add the salt and olive oil to the yeast mixture and stir.
3. In a large bowl, combine the flour and wheat gluten. You can leave out the wheat gluten, but it does help to make the dough more elastic like pizza parlor dough. Mix together and make a well in the center.
4. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and stir thoroughly from the center outwards, preferably with a wooden spoon. When the ingredients are completely combined, turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until the dough feels smooth and elastic. You may have to add additional flour as you knead if the dough feels too sticky.
5. Put the dough in a well oiled bowl, and cover with a damp towel or with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm, draft-free place and allow to rise until doubled in size (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).
6. Lightly oil two 12 inch pans and sprinkle with corn meal. Divide the dough into two pieces, then stretch each piece and press into shape to fit the pan. Cover the dough with sauce, cheese and your favorite toppings.
7. Bake the pizza on the lowest rack of a pre-heated 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes until the cheese is completely melted and the crust lightly browned.
8. Slice and enjoy!
If you do not use all the dough, you can store the unused portion in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a few days. It also freezes well, so you can wrap the unused dough in plastic, place in a freezer bag and store in the freezer for a few months. Then just defrost, allow the dough to come to room temperature, and use.
Here are a few suggestions for personalizing your pizza:
1. Make several small personal pizzas instead of two larger ones by using cake pans. Or, shape the dough into something other than a circle. Try a rectangular pizza, or make freehand shapes.
2. “Spice” up the crust just like the trendy pizza parlors do. If you’re a fan of garlic, replace the table salt in the recipe with garlic salt, or add minced garlic to the yeast mixture in step 2. You can also add other spices to the yeast mixture such as oregano, basil and parsley, or even dried chopped onions. Sprinkle sesame seeds or coarse salt on the top edges of the dough just before baking.
3. Try lots different toppings on your pizza. For a real Brooklyn-style cheese pie, combine shredded mozzarella with shredded sharp provolone. Meat lovers can add pepperoni, sausage or meatballs. Fresh veggies such as mushrooms, onions, peppers or even broccoli also go great with the sauce and cheese, and add a healthier touch.
Just use your imagination. After all, it’s YOUR pizza.