Homemade Pizza

Zach's pizza

Amanda and Zach were both at the house the other day, and we had one of our old standbys for dinner– Homemade Pizza.  This is a dinner where everyone gets what they want, as each person can put their favorite toppings on their own pizza.  We have 3 pizza pans; Zach gets one, Amanda gets one, and Ken and I share the last one.  But even Ken and I like to customize our pizza in different ways, so each half looks and tastes different from the other.

The yeast dough for pizza is fast and forgiving.  This time the dough was a bit sticky due to the high humidity, but even though that made it harder to stretch out on the pan, it still came out great—nice and crisp.  Be sure the oven is really hot -475 degrees – before you put the pizza in the oven .

Amanda's pizza

The dough recipe is inspired by one in an elementary school cookbook that was sold as a fifth grade fund-raiser when my kids were little, called “Share a World of Recipes in the Belle Sherman School Cookbook”.  The title of one recipe made us try it as soon as we got the book—20 Minute Homemade Pizza (by Robin Schmidt’s family).   It is possible to make in 20 minutes, though we now let the dough rise for a half hour or so before topping and baking.  But in a time-crunch, the dough needs no longer than 5 minutes resting before pressing into the pizza pan and covering with toppings. We have changed the dough ingredients to match our tastes, and but kept the onion and garlic powder called for in the Belle Sherman recipe.

Here is how our family makes pizza now, using rapid-rise (bread machine) yeast.  It  is easy enough to make by hand, though we often use a bread machine to knead the dough while we slice up mushrooms or other toppings.

Quick Homemade Pizza

Preheat oven to 475°.

In a large mixing bowl, combine
2 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast
¾ cup lukewarm water.
Stir to dissolve, let stand 5 minutes.

Mix in
½  teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon honey (optional)
3 Tablespoons olive oil.

Mix the following dry ingredients together and then add to yeast mixture.  (If you don’t have whole wheat flour, it is fine to use all unbleached flour).

2 cups unbleached flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder

Knead the dough for several minutes on a floured surface, adding more flour if necessary.

Let sit for at least 5 minutes, or you can let the dough rise for a half hour or more.  It can sit at room temperature for quite a while before baking.

While the dough is rising, prepare the Toppings:

For 3 pizzas, we use approximately:

1 cup pizza sauce
1 lb part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Other toppings that we often add include
sliced pepperoni, sliced Kalamata olives, sliced marinated artichokes, chopped red bell pepper, sliced pepperoncini, slivered fresh basil, fresh cherry tomatoes.  Add anything else that appeals to you.

When the toppings are ready, coat the pizza pans with olive oil.  With olive oil on your hands, divide the pizza dough for the number of pizzas you are making, and spread the dough into a thin crust.  Add the toppings, starting with pizza sauce, then mozzarella, then other toppings, and ending with parmesan.

Bake for 12 minutes at 475°.  If more than one pizza is in the oven at a time, switch their positions at 6 minutes, so that they each have the opportunity to brown on the bottom.

Check the bottom of the pizza when you think it is done to see if it is brown.  If it is pale, put it back in the oven (near the heat source) to brown a bit more.

Remove pizza from its pan as soon as it comes out of the oven and cool on a wire rack for a couple of minutes before cutting to serve.  It is nice to have a tossed green salad with this meal.

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