Intro: Homemade Pizza
I've seen a lot of ways to make pizza, from cooking it on a charcoal grill to using flour tortillas as the crust. In order to make good pizza quickly, I've combined a couple of techniques and recipes.
It takes a little longer than 30 minutes (about 2 hours) if you make your own dough. If you don't want to make your own dough you can probably buy some at the local pizza place for a few dollars. Or you can cut the rising time for the dough short and end up with a denser crust. After you have the dough, it only takes about 30 minutes to lay out and bake the pizza.
The first technique that I borrowed is to broil my pizza (from seriouseats.com). This cuts the baking time down to as little as 2 minutes by cooking it from both sides, and makes a great crispy crust with bubbling hot cheese.
The recipe I used for the dough comes from "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. The title is somewhat misleading, since 5 minutes is only the time it takes to mix together the ingredients. It takes at least 2 hours if you follow their recipe. Either way, the recipe is super easy to mix up and tastes great.
Step 1: Things You Will Need
~An electric oven with a broiler element (gas works OK, but you won't get the same results)
~A cast iron skillet
~A pizza peel or wooden cutting board
~Rolling pin or other cylindrical object to roll out the dough
~A large sauce pan (about one half gallon or more) with a lid
~A spoon, a spatula, and some oven mitts.
Pizza Dough (this will make about two large pizzas):
~2 3/4 cups lukewarm water
~1 1/2 T. granulated yeast
~1 1/2 T. salt
~1 T. sugar
~1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
~6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
~A few pinches of corn meal or grits (this is to keep the dough from sticking to the peel)
Don't worry about being too precise; this recipe is very forgiving, even if you get the amounts slightly wrong.
~Pizza sauce (I used canned sauce, but you can make your own if you want)
~Shredded mozzarella cheese (again, you can make your own if you want)
~Pepperoni or other pizza toppings. I used salami, basil, and onion, because that's what I had at the time.
Step 2: Prepare the Dough
If you're making your own dough, start making it about 2 hours before you plan on baking the pizza. Or you can just buy a lump of raw dough from the local pizza restaurant.
To make the dough:
1. Add olive oil to the container.
2. Add water to the oil.
3. Add salt, yeast, and sugar.
4. Mix in the flour all at once
5. Stir everything together until it's consistent and there are no lumps or clumps of flour.
Cover and let the dough rise for at least 2 hours. You can use it without letting it rise, but it will end up dense and in my opinion not as good.
After the dough rises, you can cover and refrigerate it for a few days before you make the pizza.
Step 3: Roll Out the Dough and Assemble the Pizza
1. Start pre-heating the skillet on the stove on high, and turn the oven on broil. If you don't have a broiler, turn the oven on the highest setting you can. Make sure everything is mega hot before you bake the pizza.
2. Sprinkle flour and corn meal liberally on the peel or cutting board. You will need to keep putting flour on the peel while you roll out the dough to keep it from sticking. Sprinkle flour on your hands and the rolling pin as well.
3. Tear off a baseball-sized glob of dough and sprinkle the outside with flour. Start rolling the dough out on the peel, flipping it and adding flour every once and awhile. You can pick up and "toss" the dough, but don't actually throw it up above your head. Just work it around on your fingers and knuckles until it's thin enough. Make sure there is enough corn meal under the dough by shaking the peel back and forth. If the dough slides on top of the corn meal, then you're ready. If not, add some more to the bottom.
4. Spoon some pizza sauce on to the middle of the dough, then spread it around in a spiral until there is a nice thin covering of sauce. You can also use basil pesto instead of tomato sauce.
5. Sprinkle some shredded mozzarella on top.
6. Add whatever toppings you like. I like pepperoni, onion, and basil.
Step 4: Bake and Enjoy Your Pizza
Now that both the oven and the skillet are mega-hot, put on your oven mitts and carefully pick up the skillet. Flip it upside down and put it in the oven on the top rack, so that it is only a few inches away from the broiler. Close the oven door quickly to keep the heat in.
Make sure that the dough is still loose and can slide on the peel. Now open the oven and quickly slide the pizza onto the skillet. Use a spatula if you need to adjust its position.
The pizza will cook very quickly, in about 1 minute 30 seconds if everything is mega-hot. If the oven is only 500 degrees F or so, it might take as long as 5 minutes. Either way, you will need to watch that thing like a hawk to prevent it from burning. A window in your oven door is the best way to check without opening the oven.
When the cheese is bubbling and brown on the top, pull the pizza out with a spatula and put it on a plate. Let it cool for a few minutes before you eat it.