The fast pace of life has left me resorting to short cuts, especially in the kitchen. Right or wrong, using short cuts to get a home made supper on the table still feels like an accomplishment, if only because you can take pride in not having resorted to the drive through window yet again. I say this as someone who’s nearly addicted to getting my morning coffee at the drive through window of the coffee shop at the gas station nearest to my home. What am I saying? Nearly? No, I guess it’s definitely, since I do it every time I go to work. Oh well, there are greater demons to tackle in a day, wouldn’t you say?
One of these aforementioned short cuts involved making pizza at home with pre-made naan breads or Lebanese thin pita breads. (Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the pre-made pizza bases you can buy at the supermarket. I’m a thin crust kinda gal.)
Because this quick way of making pizza tastes surprisingly good, the idea of tackling pizza with home made dough fell off the table somewhere along the way. And take out pizza? That hasn’t been an option in my home since 2005, or thereabouts.
So when my daughter asked me to make dough from scratch, I was perplexed. Wow, I thought. That’s going to take some time. Hmmm, how should I plan this? Can I fit this into an already crammed schedule? If you’re laughing at the irony of all this – I mean, a food blogger stopped dead in her tracks because her child wants to make pizza dough – that’s ok. Afterwards I chuckled too.
Still a little too chicken to tackle anything with yeast (though I really can’t explain why), I resorted to buying a ball of dough from my local Italian bakery where everything you buy there tastes absolutely amazing. So, my trust level was high when making this purchase, and as usual, I was not disappointed.
When I took out the ingredients to make pizza, my daughter’s eyes grew wide and a huge grin appeared out of nowhere. We’re gonna make pizza dough? Well, kinda, I said. The bakery started it, and now we’re going to finish it. Turns out she was delighted, because the part that intrigued her was all about rolling out the dough.
We took out my mom’s wooden rolling pin, the one I’ve seen her use a thousand times to make pie crust, and I got my little girl to start rolling out the dough.
And then it happened. I realized that making pizza dough was never about time, but about creating memories. Things that stay with you forever. I had so much fun explaining how everything worked and showing my daughter how to make pizza dough, that I want us to do it again. Soon. Often. There are no short cuts when it comes to making memories.
This recipe focuses on the method rather than the proportions and sizing. I've left out the amount of ingredients, because once you know how to make it, you can feel free to add as little or as much of anything as you wish.
This kind of cooking is truly best done with your eyes. Eyeball your ingredients. If it looks right to you, then it will be good.
- Some all purpose flour
- 1 ball of pizza dough
- Pizza sauce of your choice (you can use the kind that come in a squeeze bottle, or small can, or from a deli counter, or you can make your own - add a teaspoon each of sugar and oregano to a cup of marinara, and you're in business)
- Shredded cheese (I like cheddar and mozzarella, but you can substitute any other cheese that shreds well)
- Toppings - pepperoni, cooked bacon, sliced mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers
- Preheat the oven to 400F. If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven to preheat.
- Place a piece of parchment paper on a clean counter. (This will make it easier to transport your pizza to the pizza stone in the oven.) Sprinkle a bit of flour on the paper, and place your ball of dough on top. Put a bit more flour on top of the ball, and gently start rolling out the dough with a rolling pin. Roll out the dough in all directions, to stretch it into a circle (or something like that). It's ok if you don't make a perfect circle, as in my photographs. The idea is to roll it out until it's about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick.
- Spoon some sauce onto your pizza shell, right up to the edges.
- Sprinkle on some cheese, enough to cover your pizza.
- Add the toppings of your choice, or if you're a purist, or under the age of 10, in most cases, you can leave it as is. No one ever said a cheese pizza was wrong.
- Ask someone to help you bring the pizza to the oven. If you've made a large pizza, you definitely need two sets of hands to get that pizza to the hot stone in the oven. If you're alone, I would suggest rolling out the pizza dough directly on the surface of a baking sheet, which can be popped into the oven by yourself. You won't have the benefit of putting the pizza on a preheated surface, but it will still cook to perfection.
- Bake the pizza for 15 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble. Remove from the oven carefully, and let cool a minute or two before slicing it. Serve immediately.