Pizza Night!

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pizza1Around here Friday just screams, “Pizza night!” And while a few years ago that might have meant a call to the local pizza place these days it means we make that baby ourselves to save a lot of money. And let me tell you that the pizza I had Friday night was amazing. My son has pizza making down to an art.

When we began making our pizza at home, seriously pursuing the art of pizza making, I would make my 4-cup crust recipe and split it into two medium-sized pizzas. The boys decided that they preferred a really thick large pizza instead. So I make the same recipe in my bread machine and my 19 year old son hand tosses that dough into one delicious, awesomely amazing pizza crust.

Pizza Crust

Prep Time: 30 min – 2 hours
Makes 2 medium crusts or one large thick crust

Ingredients

  • 2 cups organic whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups organic unbleached bread flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water
  • 2-1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 Tbsp sugar

Bread machine time

  • In glass measuring cup, dissolve sugar and yeast in the warm water and allow to get bubbly
  • Measure into bread machine pan: flours and salt
  • Set bread machine for “Dough” setting and “Start” to combine flours and salt
  • Add liquid and oil
  • Let bread machine do its thing

Once the dough has finished kneading and started rising you can use it any time. If you have time allow it to go through its full cycle for the best texture, but it isn’t necessary if you are in a hurry. We have pulled the dough out at various stages and it is all good.

Making of the Pizza

Pizza Toppings

Let’s talk about toppings for a minute or two. You can put anything you like on top of your pizza — well, almost anything. On Friday night we had onions and orange bell peppers because that is what we had on hand. We didn’t even have any type of sauce. Saturday I went to the grocery store and had a list of requests from my 19 year old pizza-making genius son. I was only too happy to oblige him. Saturday’s pizza had bacon, Italian sausage, pepperoni, onions and red peppers with our quick sauce we make from organic canned tomato paste. Here are a few of the toppings that we have used at different times and in varying combinations. In the spirit of “making do” use what you have on hand or make your pizza ingredients a new part of your grocery list. It is up to you.

  • sliced onions: yellow or red
  • peppers: bell, Italian, sweet, hot
  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • fresh basil
  • fresh tomato slices
  • fresh, chopped oregano
  • sliced or chopped garlic
  • pepperoni
  • Italian sausage (cooked)
  • Hamburger (cooked)
  • Bacon (cooked)
  • Salami
  • Ham
Thick crust cheese and veggie pizza

Thick crust cheese and veggie pizza

Putting it All Together

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Take your pizza dough from the bread machine and either roll it out or hand toss. We have a pizza stone but you can use a cookie sheet, cake pans, baking dish, anything you like for your pizza. Do not grease your pizza stone but any other dish or pan should be greased.

Brush the entire crust with olive oil (infused with fresh garlic if you have any). My son uses my oil spray pump. Then sprinkle with garlic granules, a little salt, oregano, parsley, whatever you like. My youngest son has even rolled some mozzarella into the crust. Have fun with this. Spoon and spread your sauce onto the crust avoiding the outer edges (sauce on the outer crust will burn). How much sauce should you use? I like just a little bit of sauce. My 19 year old likes more sauce. If you can’t have tomatoes because you are avoiding nightshades or salicylates just leave it off, or spread a little ricotta before continuing.

Cheese time! We love fresh mozzarella, a lot. We also buy mozzarella by the pound and have stopped buying packaged shredded cheese*. So grate 3/4 pound of mozzarella and sprinkle that over your sauce. Now it is time for some toppings.

Put as much or as little as you like. We often do 1/2 all veggies and the other half with meat. Here in Connecticut the pizza places sprinkle everything with pepper. We sprinkle with parsley and/or oregano.

Fresh mozzarella, sliced red peppers and onions

Fresh mozzarella, sliced red peppers and onions

Bake at 400 degrees F for 18-23 minutes, or longer until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before slicing. Mangia!

*I was not able to find much information on what packaged shredded cheese is coated with. I believe it is cellulose (does not disclose plant source so might be GMO corn — we have no way of knowing), potato starch, and often an anti-fungal to hinder mold growth. The safest choice is to buy block cheeses and spend three minutes grating it yourself.

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