Way back when I started blogging, the first recipe I posted was for homemade pizza crust. Well, it’s time for an update.
Since I posted that recipe, I’ve made many, many pizzas. We probably have homemade pizza once a month, at least. While the crust method described in the first post is more or less the same, I’ve modified the recipe, changed the cooking temperature and adjusted the shape of the pizza. Now, instead of a bunch of thin crust pizzas, I make one large sheet-style pizza with a thicker, sturdier crust that can hold up to plenty of toppings.
Here’s how I do it:
- 1 cup water
- 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- pinch of sugar
- 3 cups flour (I used 1 1/2 cups whole wheat and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for the pan
- Desired toppings (for this recipe I used 1/2 cup tomato sauce, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, about 4 oz sliced pepperoni, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning)
- Begin by proofing the yeast. (This is how you make sure the yeast still alive and get it ready to consume the sugars in the dough.) Microwave the cup of water for about a minute, until warm but not hot. You should be able to put a finger in the water and hold it there for a few seconds. Pour the water into a mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Grab a pinch of sugar and sprinkle it over the yeast. The sugar gives the yeast something to eat to get “warmed up.” Set the bowl aside for at least 5 minutes, until the yeast foams. (If your yeast doesn’t foam, either your water was too hot, or the yeast was already dead to begin with. Try again, or buy new yeast.)
- Meanwhile, measure out your dry ingredients, but keep one cup of the flour separate. I use a half-and-half mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour. So, I measure 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour into a bowl and mix it with the salt. I keep the remaining 1 cup of all-purpose flour in the measuring cup at this point (you’ll see why in a minute).
- Once the yeast is foamy, pour the first two cups of flour, salt, and 2 tbsp of olive oil into the bowl. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle flour from the measuring cup over the dough and stir until the dough mostly stops sticking to the bowl. Lightly flour a cutting board or other clean surface and turn the dough out onto it. Place the bowl in the sink and fill with water to soak. Dry and flour your hands.
- Begin to knead the dough. Push the dough mass down and away from you with the heel of your hand. Then, fold the dough mass over the indent you just made and turn it 90 degrees. Fold it in half again, then press down and away with the heel of your hand again.
- Repeat this pattern for 5-10 minutes until the dough is a smooth, cohesive mass and bounces back when you press it with a thumb. Add flour to your hands, the cutting board, and the dough ball itself as needed throughout this process from the measuring cup. You probably won’t need to use all of the third cup of flour, so keeping it separate means you’ll be able to toss whatever you don’t use back into the container afterward. Plus, it’s a lot easier to pour a little flour out of the measuring cup than it is to dip back into a bag with dough-y hands.
- Form the dough into a ball and let it rest on the cutting board for a minute or two. In the meantime, wash out the mixing bowl and dry it thoroughly. Pour about 1/2 tbsp olive oil into the clean bowl. Pick up the dough ball by the seam and place it into the bowl, swirling it around to coat the surface with olive oil. Flip it over and make sure the top is completely covered. The oil helps keep the dough moist and allows it to stretch more easily during rising.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean dishtowel and put it in a warm place for 30 minutes to an hour, until doubled in size. I like to turn my broiler on for just a minute to warm the oven a smidge and stick the bowl inside (after turning it off again, of course!). Keeping the dough just 5-10 degrees above room temperature will accelerate the rising process.
- While the dough is rising, clean up and prepare the pizza toppings if necessary. Brush a sheet pan with olive oil.
- Remove the dough from the oven (if you had it there) and preheat to 400F. Punch out the air in the dough with a fist. Then, remove it from the bowl and stretch it a bit with your knuckles if you can. Lay the dough on the sheet pan and press it into a rectangular shape.
- Top the dough just before baking. How I do it: Spread sauce on the dough, followed by a thin layer of cheese. Top with pepperoni, then the remaining cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and Italian seasonings (optional, but a great flavor boost).
- Bake the pizza for approximately 10 to 12 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and browning in places and the crust sounds hollow when tapped. Let it cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.
*Nutrition facts calculated without toppings.
With 1/2 cup pizza sauce, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, 1/4 grated Parmesan and 4 oz turkey pepperoni, each slice provides 295 calories (34 g carbohydrates, 16 g protein, 10 g fat)
I love this pizza because of how hearty the crust is. It stands up to just about any topping, and crisps up beautifully in the oven. You don’t have to use the whole wheat flour, but Paul and I both like the taste (he says it reminds him of Bilbo’s Pizza in Kalamazoo–yes, there is such a place, and his favorite pizza there is a carnivore’s dream called the Dragon Feast). I’ve also made the recipe with only all-purpose flour and with bread flour with great results. The amount of flour you need will vary depending on the type you use, where you live and the humidity that day.
You can also adjust the toppings however you want! I just made a standard pepperoni pizza for this post, but the possibilities are really endless. Here are some combinations we’ve tried:
- Buffalo chicken – Mix buffalo and marinara sauce and spread on the crust. Top with mozzarella and cooked chicken tossed with buffalo sauce.
- Broccoli cheddar – Skip the marinara sauce and spread a light layer of ranch dressing on the crust. Top with chopped fresh broccoli and a mix of cheddar and mozzarella cheese.
- Veggie – Top the pizza with a mix of vegetables such as mushrooms, roasted red peppers and onions.
- Pesto – Spread pesto on the crust for the sauce and top with cheese and lighter toppings like chicken, spinach or artichoke hearts.
- White pizza – Saute a clove or two of minced garlic in 1-2 tbsp of olive oil. Add crushed red pepper flakes and herbs such as basil and oregano, if desired. Spread the garlic oil over the crust instead of sauce. Top with cheese and fresh sliced tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms or any other desired toppings.
You can also make calzones using this recipe. Divide the dough into 3-6 dough balls and roll each one out to between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. Add fillings, then fold in half and crimp the edges. Brush with an egg beaten with 1 tbsp water. Bake until golden brown.
Wrap any leftovers in foil and keep in the refrigerator for a few days. The pizza also freezes well! To reheat, place the slices on a baking sheet in a cold oven and set it to 375F. The pizza should be fully reheated shortly after the oven reaches that temperature (flip on the broiler or crank the heat at the end to re-crisp the crust, if desired).