Monday, November 25, 2013

The Easiest Pizza you'll ever make…. and the BEST tasting!

We only turn the stove on during the weekends when energy prices are low.  I usually pick whichever day is least busy (Saturday or Sunday) and turn the stove on early in the afternoon and have it on until well after dinner.  I bake batches of whatever I think we might need throughout the week - muffins, breads, something special if company is coming, and ALWAYS pizza.  
If a weekend passes without pizza, the kids can't figure out what they did to deserve such deprivation!  
I have been using this recipe for years, and it has never failed.  It is quick, simple, and is truly better than any pizza you can order or pick up at a grocery store.  

Pizza Dough

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (not too hot or you'll kill your yeast!)
1 tsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (one package if you use individual packages)

Put warm water in large bowl, and dissolve sugar in it.  Sprinkle yeast on top and it will get kind of foamy looking.  If it doesn't get foamy, your yeast is dead - start over.

Once your yeast is proofed, add:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk (you can use water)

3-4 cups flour

This is where you will start adding flour.  Use no more than 4cups, starting with two.  I add two cups (I'm going to be honest here, I haven't measured flour with this recipe for years because I've been doing it so long) and mix in with a wooden spoon.  When the dough is difficult to stir with the spoon, take the spoon out and start kneading by hand.  I knead IN the bowl so I don't make a mess in the kitchen and have less dishes when it's done.  Add flour until the dough isn't totally sticking to your hands.  You may need to rub the flour in your hands before mixing it in to help remove the dough. This kneading process shouldn't take more than a few minutes.  You want the dough to be well mixed and retain a ball shape - once that happens, just leave it.  A tip I read at the beginning of my bread making adventures is "the wetter the better" - so don't go crazy with the flour trying to get a dough that isn't sticky at all.  

2 tbsp olive oil

Leave the dough in the bowl and drizzle olive oil around the sides.  Roll the dough in the oil until it's coated and cover with wet cloth or saran wrap.

If your kitchen is FREEZING like mine, you may need to proof your dough somewhere other than the counter.  Sometimes I turn the oven on for 5 minutes and turn it back off - putting the dough in and giving it a warm place to sit for half an hour.  When I'm already baking I proof my dough where the heat vents out from my oven.  This can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.  If you're busy - you can leave it proof on the counter for up to 2 hours, or put it in the fridge and take it out when you'd like to use it.  

When the dough is doubled in size, rip off a piece to make your pizza.  I make two large thin crust square pizzas that fill a cookie sheet with this recipe.  You can make your dough as thin or thick as you'd like.  I roll mine out with an oiled rolling pin directly onto the parchment paper I will bake it on.  Once rolled out, move it to cookie sheet and begin to assemble sauce, cheese and toppings.

Bake at 450 for 15 minutes.  Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting and ENJOY!

Want to make your own sauce?  It's easy, delicious and you know what's in it!

I still have canned tomatoes from the summer of 2011, but if you don't have any you can use fresh or canned whole tomatoes.
It's as simple as pulsing tomatoes in a food processor until it's as liquid-y as it's going to get.  Add fresh herbs and spices, or dried (I only had dry for this batch) and stick to the classic Italian herbs - basil, oregano, parsley.  I put the sauce right back in the jar I got the tomatoes from and will have enough  left over for pasta during the week.  

Other Pizza Making Tips

- Buy cheese when it's dirt cheap and freeze it!  I always have a few bricks of mozzarella in the freezer, and take it out on the morning of pizza making day.
- Let your kids join in the fun and make their own personal pizzas!  They can get creative, and they always love eating something they've made on their own.  I love hearing my kids brag about what a good job they did and how they can't believe how good it is!
- Have fun with toppings!  I'm going to be honest - I go through phases of what I want on my pizza pie.  I'm in a major garlic and hot pepper phase, that's all I want.  I sliced HUGE chunks of garlic and lined my whole pizza with it, topping that off with mounds of hot pepper.  I also enjoy doing a veggie mix of broccoli, peppers, fresh tomato slices, asparagus, and anything else I can find in my fridge.  

Happy Baking!

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