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The most important part of the pizza is the dough. It has to have the right texture, chewy and crispy. There are so many recipes out there and I have tried quite a few! I am going to share with you my favorite. The first time I made it I thought, wow, that is such a weird recipe because the prep is so different from anything I have tried yet! BUT, the outcome is totally worth it!
The dough needs to ferment before you use it. You can either warm ferment, 4-6 hours in a warm room or cold ferment, 1-3 days in the fridge. If you choose the cold method, the dough needs to come to room temperature before you use it. This is important to keep in mind as the dough needs a total of 6-8 hours before it is ready for use!
This is what you need to get started:
2 3/4 Cups Warm (110º) Water
2 Tsp Active Dry Yeast
1/2 Tsp Sugar
8+ Cups of All Purpose Flour
2 Tbsp Sea Salt
Pour the warm water into the bowl of your stand mixer and add the sugar and yeast. The little bit of sugar feeds the yeast and makes it bloom.
Stir to dissolve and let sit for 10 minutes until foamy and frothy. This means that the yeast is active and ready to go!
Attach dough hook and turn machine on low and slowly add 6 cups of flour to combine thoroughly. You will end up with a very wet and loose dough.
Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and let rest on the counter top for 40 minutes.
Mix remaining flour and salt together.
Turn your machine back on low and slowly add the flour and salt mixture (and add herbs, if desired). Knead dough for 10-15 minutes. You never want to leave your machine when it is kneading in case your assistance is needed to get dough off hook.
Once kneading is complete turn dough onto your counter (or bread board) and stretch the dough into a rectangle, approximately 18” by 12” and about an inch thick. Let it rest and rise covered with a clean dish towel for about 1 1/2 hours.
Divide the dough into two pieces and divide those pieces into 4 balls each. Pinch the dough to create your dough balls and using your fingers, stretch the dough tucking loose ends under the bottom. Repeat with all 8 balls and place them on lightly floured cookie sheet(s).
At this point you can either cover with plastic wrap and a clean dish towel to warm ferment or place each piece in a ziploc baggie to cold ferment (or a combination of both if you are not planning on using all at same time). You can also freeze dough at this point. If dough is frozen, thaw in fridge for two days prior to allowing dough to come to room temp.
There are several ways to cook your pizza at home:
• Oven with Pizza Stone
• Oven with Cookie Sheet
• Grill Based Pizza Oven
Today we will be cooking with a Grill Based Pizza Oven.
However, you can obtain the same results by preheating your oven with pizza stone to 500º. Similarly, heat your oven to 500º and assemble your pizza on a cornmeal sprinkled cookie sheet instead of a pizza peel.
Before dough is ready to use, let's get the sauce completed. We will be making a pizza sauce from scratch today. This is what you will need for the sauce:
1/2 Onion, Diced
2 15 oz Cans of Diced Tomatoes
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1/4 Red Wine
1 Tsp Olive Oil
Pinch Brown Sugar
Begin by sautéing the onions, shallots and 2/3 Tsp seasoning in the olive oil over medium heat until the mixture is soft and translucent.
Place the mixture in a blender and add the diced tomatoes, and blend until liquified.
Add back into sauce pan and add the remaining seasoning, sugar, tomato paste and wine. Simmer on low, stirring frequently for 30 minutes. Make sure you keep a lid on the pan as tomato sauce likes to spatter. We add a little sugar to the sauce because it helps balance the acidity of the tomatoes. A little it goes a long way unless you enjoy a sweet sauce.
This will give you a fabulous sauce that is very versatile and can stand up to and complement any toppings you can dream up! The sauce will also freeze well for future use.
However, if you are in a pinch, a quickie sauce is easy to make using your favorite jarred marinara and adding some spices/herbs. I recommend South Lyon's Own Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning, Johnny Pizza or Herbes de Provence.
Next get all our other pizza ingredients ready to go. I like to use several different cheeses on my pizza. Fresh mozzarella, fresh parmesan and a shredded Italian cheese mix. My family's favorite toppings are spicy Italian sausage and mushrooms. Sometimes a really nice dry hard salami. My favorite is the Pizza Margerita with fresh basil, fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. We will be making these today.
Once the dough is finished, lightly flour your work surface and get out a rolling pin. Gently dust dough ball in flour and roll out your dough to your desired thickness. I really like thin and crispy doughs. Use some elbow grease and really work dough with rolling pin, lift and turn over several times. The 3rd picture is an example of Johnny Pizza being incorporated into the dough. Delish!
Dust a pizza peel generously with corn meal and gently move your pizza crust on top. The cornmeal will ensure a smooth transfer from pizza peel to cooking surface (pizza oven or pizza stone). If you are using a cookie sheet, sprinkle the cornmeal directly on it.
I like to make a small rolled/folded edge to keep sauce and ingredients from sliding off.
Next let's add our pizza sauce. Add enough to cover the pizza but not too much to make it soggy!
Now let's add the base layer of cheese, followed by whichever topping you wish.
My girls decided to use spicy Italian sausage, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil as their toppings. Then they sprinkled Johnny Pizza seasoning to finish it off!
My husband used spicy Italian sausage, dried salami, fresh mozzarella and a large sprinkling of Johnny Pizza to finish his off.
I chose to make the famous Pizza Margherita. A little bit of base cheese, lots of fresh basil and tomatoes, topped off with fresh mozzarella and Pizza Blast seasoning.
Now of course the kids had to make a dessert pizza! Instead of a sauce, brush the crush with a little meted butter. Give it a liberal sprinkling of brown sugar mixed with 1 tsp of MiMom's Pumpkin Spice and top with mini marshmallow and chocolate chips. Cook this in a 475º oven for approximately 12 minutes. Yummy!
Now we are ready to cook our pizzas:
I cooked one pizza in the oven. Preheat to 500º. Cook pizza on a sheet pan for about 10-12 minutes. All ovens differ in temps so keep a close eye!
We will cook the remaining pizzas in the grill based pizza oven. My hubby purchased this for me because we love making pizzas and were really curious as to how they worked. Let me just say that the taste of the pizzas rival any gourmet restaurant! Your pizza is only as good as the quality of ingredients and spices you use!
Preheat oven to manufacturer's specifications.
Gently slide pizza off the pizza peel into the hot oven.
As the pizza is cooking you need to 1/4 turn it every 45-60 seconds to ensure an even golden and caramelized crust. Total time is around 4-5 minutes.
Here are some additional cooked pizzas. Remember that pizza is essentially a blank canvas and that you can be as creative as you want! Good luck and have fun!!!