Introduction: Mmmm... Pizza!

Lately I've been seriously craving pizza. I normally enjoy trying out new pizzerias in my area, in search of that perfect crust+topping combination but being kind of broke and too lazy to drive out in search for the perfect pizza I decided that I'd make it myself. Now, you may be saying to yourself... "if you're too lazy to drive and buy pizza, how are you possibly un-lazy enough to spend time making your own pizza". Well, my first response would be... I am so dangerously addicted to baking and cooking that I don't even see it as work, and it actually invigorates me... and gives me more energy to power on through the rest of the day. Weird eh? And my second response would be... I have a bread machine to do most of the hard work for me! Yeah!

My trusty bread machine has pumped out some amazingly tasty sticky-buns, sweet rolls and other breads... so, the quest was on to make something on the more savory side. I was ready to find out how the machine would fair in making a pizza crust... and it did not disappoint.

Step 1: The Dough

What You'll Need (Yields 2 Pizza Crusts):
- 1 1/2 cups water (warm at around 90F)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 1/4 cup bread flour (I used 3 1/4 cups AP flour + 1 cup whole wheat flour)
- 2 tsp active dry yeast

1. Measure ingredients into bread pan, in order listed
2. Select DOUGH setting.
3. Press START
4. Wait for bread to finish and COMPLETE SIGNAL to sound
(Method to continue on the following pages)

Step 2: The Rise

Method (Continued):
5. Remove dough from the pan, place in a large ceramic bowl that has been well greased. Cover bowl with cling-wrap and let dough sit for 10 minutes.
6. Divide dough in half, roll each half into a circle large enough for your 2 pizza pans. Grease the 2 pizza pans with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal.

Step 3: The Sauce

If you're not one for the traditional pizza sauce (what with the tomatoes, garlic, onions, basil, oregano and all the other spices) why not change it up a bit?? It's your own pizza, so make it however you like! Some sauce options I have used for my home-made pizzas include...

- BBQ sauce
- Alfredo sauce
- Hoisin Sauce
- Tandoori Chicken Paste
- Pesto
- Sweet Chili Sauce
- Hummus
- Ranch Sauce
- flavored mayonnaise (i.e. lime infused, wasabi-mayo mix etc.)
- A simple drizzle of olive oil, minced garlic, fresh Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper
- Freshly crushed tomatoes, mixed with garlic and minced basil (sort of like a bruschetta pizza)
- Your favorite recipe of Spinach + Artichoke Dip

The possibilities are endless

Step 4: Finishing It Off With the Toppings

Method (Continued...):
7. Place one rolled-dough circle onto one pan, pinch edges to make a crust and then top with pizza sauce, cheese and your choice of toppings. Repeat for second rolled-dough circle.
8. Bake at 400F for about 20 minutes, or until edges are golden and cheese is bubbling.
9. I would say the final step is ENJOY ... but that's pretty much a given, it is pizza after all... and who could screw up pizza? (PS. don't screw up your pizza)

Great topping ideas:
-  zucchini
- onions (yellow, red or green)
- thinly sliced potatoes
- bell peppers
- fresh tomatoes; sliced or diced or crushed
- minced garlic
- mushrooms
- pineapples
- black and green olives
- bonito flakes
- shredded seaweed
- cashews or peanuts
- jalapenos, other hot chilies
- basil leaves (slightly bruised)
- Gruyere cheese, Parmesan Cheese, Aged Cheddar (White or regular), Mozzarella, Paneer, Feta
- MEAT!! --> Ukrainian sausage, ham, pepperoni, rotisserie/roasted chicken, bbq pork, Italian sausage, Taco Beef, Shrimp, Crab meat, bacon
- or if your adventurous... try making a sunny-side up egg on top of the pizza! (use the cheese to create a 3inch well on top of the pizza, bake the pizza for 3 minutes, remove pizza, crack an egg in the cheese-well, continue to bake until egg is cooked ~10minutes)

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