I. Love. Pizza.Who doesn’t?
What I love most about pizza (aside from being a vehicle to get bread and cheese into my mouth) is that it is endlessly customizable. I am pretty certain that at any given moment, I can take some random stuff in my kitchen and with minimal effort, make it into a pretty damn tasty dinner. For a lot less money and fewer calories than Papa John.
The one thing that does hold more people back from making their own pizza is the dough. Yes, it takes a few minutes to pull together. And it takes an hour or so for the dough to rise.
But it is so worth it.
I promise you can make your own completely wholesome pizza at home, even on a weeknight. Last Friday, I made the dough the instant I got home from work at 5. I had dinner on the table by 7, which honestly, is a little sooner than the nights I stand in the kitchen slicing, dicing, sauteeing, and saucing. And while the dough rose, I drank beer. I may or may not have been slightly buzzed putting the pie together, which is infinitely better than being buzzed and driving to pick up a pizza, or being buzzed and undertipping your delivery driver.
Once you have your dough, you can let your imagination run wild. I like to prebake the dough for about 10 minutes, especially on a whole-wheat crust, because they can take a few minutes longer to cook. And this makes the crust crispy, instead of gooey in the middle from too much moisture — the worst!
You can find about a million and one recipes for pizza dough online, but here’s my go-to:
Basic Pizza Dough
Makes 2 regular or 4 personal size pizzas.
- 1.5 cups warm (about 105 degrees) water
- 1 packet or 2.25 tsp instant yeast
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp olive oil or melted (but not hot!) butter
- 3 cups whole wheat flour (I like to use half regular WW and half white WW, but any combination works)
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- Combine water and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow to proof for 3-5 minutes. If you know your yeast is fresh, you could skip this step. I use jarred yeast so I worry a bit more. And old habits die hard.
- Add honey and olive oil/butter, stir to combine.
- Add flour and salt and mix using dough hook until a ball forms. Some people like to add the flour a little at a time. I find this makes a mess. I dump it in all at once. Whatever. If the dough seems too wet, add a bit more flour, a tablespoon at a time — it’ll sneek up on you! Allow it to knead for 3-5 minutes.
- Oil a large bowl (I use my Misto for this) and once the dough is nicely kneaded, just plop it in the bowl, no hand-kneading necessary. I then spray the top of the dough with a little more oil to keep it from forming a crust. Cover with a kitchen towel or some plastic wrap and put in a warm place.
- This is a good time to get all your toppings ready to go. After about 30 minutes, preheat your oven (or grill) to 450.
- Once dough has doubled in size (this will probably be about an hour, but could be anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your yeast, the weather, and your luck), divide the dough and begin stretching it, using a little extra flour as necessary to keep it from sticking. I like to do mine by hand, because cleaning a rolling pin is a pain in the ass. If your dough keeps shrinking up on you, let it sit for a few minutes to “rest”.
- Once you’ve got it shaped how you want it, put it on a pizza stone or cooking sheet (or in a cast-iron skillet for deep-dish!) to prebake it. I’ve found that pricking the dough with a fork keeps it from getting too big on me, in the area you plan to put your toppings. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Alternatively, you could totally skip this step, you will just need to bake your whole pizza for about 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, assemble all your toppings. Have them ready to go so your pizza gets back in the oven as quick as possible. Bake another 8-10 minutes. If you’re feeling really crazy, brush the edges with some garlic-infused oil or butter (Can you hear the angels singing?) . Watch carefully towards the end; you don’t want your crust (or the cheese) to burn!
- Try as hard as you can to wait 5 minutes before slicing.
Grilling pizza is one of my most favorite things to do. And it is so easy.
- Take your stretched dough and carefully lay it out on the grill, heated to at least 450. Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes. The hotter your grill, the shorter the cooktime. This works best for smaller, personal-size pizzas, which are much easier to wield than a 16-inch monster pie (just because it fits on the grill doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it…).
- Remove the half-baked dough from the grill. Put it on a cutting board (or pizza peel, if you’ve got it!) and top with whatever strikes your fancy. The key here is not to overload your pizza, which will make it insanely difficult to get back on the grill (I learned from this photo.). Or if you can’t stand a sparse pizza, you can quickly throw on some more toppings once you get it back on the grill, but that might not be the safest option…
- Return pizza to grill and cover, allowing it to cook for another 3-5 minutes. Try to wait a few minutes before shoving into your piehole. It will be difficult.