Hello, pizza people! I’ve learned a few very important home pizza tips in the past year since I first published this post, so I’ve updated it with new recipes and some nicer photos because ~artistic growth~. Give these new recipes a try and a) you’ll never cook your pizza sauce ever again, and b) you might find yourself making homemade pizza every week. May 1st 2017.
Though the above lyric may not be one of Dean Martin’s best, I like it. Really, I like any song that manages to incorporate both “pizza pie” and “pasta fazool” (pasta e fagioli, by the way) into a cheesy, Italian-American ballad.
Last weekend, I spent 20 minutes laughing with my friend Carla as we sang, over and over, the entirety of “That’s Amore”, and I think it subliminally caused me to absolutely need to embrace my inner Nonna and make pizza from scratch this week. So I did! Maybe I’ll make some pasta e fagioli next week…
Anyway, here’s how I make my pizza sauce and pizza dough, and how I like to top it all off.
Pizza Sauce- very slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s genius method
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
“Place tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl and give the tomatoes a little squeeze so they release any trapped juices. Let them drain for 30 minutes. Add salt, pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes to the tomatoes and blend in a blender or with an immersion blender until they reach your desired sauce texture.”
You’ll notice that this sauce isn’t cooked at all- and that’s what makes it so incredible. A basic, uncooked sauce is what separates heavy, clunky-tasting homemade pizzas from the amazing and brightly-flavoured pizzas you get in Italy. It’s more acidic, and stands up to the richness of the cheese in a magical way.
Pizza Dough + Assembly
I use an amazingly easy, foolproof recipe that was published in Gourmet in 1998. It’s perfect. It’s so easy, requires nothing fancy, and makes perfect pizza dough. It comes out chewy in some places and crispy in others. I’m obsessed with it.
- 3/4 cup warm water (105°-115°F.)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
“In a measuring cup, stir together water and yeast until yeast is dissolved. In a large bowl whisk together flour and salt and add yeast mixture, stirring until a soft dough forms. On a lightly floured surface knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Oil a large bowl (preferably with olive oil) and transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
On a lightly floured surface flatten dough with your hands. Cut dough in half and form into 2 balls. (Dough may be made 1 day ahead to this point. Wrap balls loosely in plastic wrap and chill in a small sealable plastic bag. Return dough to room temperature before proceeding.) Dust tops of balls with flour and cover each ball with an inverted bowl large enough to allow dough to expand. Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.”
When you’re ready to pizza, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Cut the dough in half, grab one piece, and stretch it out, either with a rolling pin or through this method, which I prefer. Do the same to the second piece.
If you have semolina/corn meal, sprinkle about 2 tbsp onto each cookie sheet. If not, parchment paper works perfectly too. Transfer your dough onto the cookie sheets. Add at least 1/4 cup of tomato sauce per pizza and spread it around gently, going all the way to the edges. Add plenty of shredded mozzarella and whatever other toppings you desire (I love adding capers before cooking and arugula after), and throw it into the oven for 12 minutes.
If you’re making both pizzas at once, one on each oven rack, it’s crucial to switch the pizzas around halfway through cooking. The pizza closest to the element will get an amazing char on the bottom, but if it’s down there for more than 6 minutes, you might end up with a carbon rectangle instead of a pizza. So set a timer for 6 minutes, switch the pizzas, and set another timer for 6 minutes.
Let the pizzas sit on their cookie sheets outside the oven for 10 minutes before eating, then cut it and dig in.