Do It Yourself: Homemade Pizza

Every pie is an original.

A few years ago my family learned how to make our own pizza. With very little planning ahead, it’s a fun activity that produces a healthy meal. 

We use the standard dough recipe.  You can start your dough in the morning and leave it in a covered bowl all day, then knead it, rise it for 30 minutes, and stretch it when you are ready to make your pie.  For one pie, start with two and a quarter teaspoons of yeast, about a tablespoon of flour, and a quarter cup of warm tap water to proof your yeast. I add a teaspoon of olive oil here and I let it sit.  After a few minutes you can stir in your combination of white and whole wheat flour, a total of a cup and a half, proportioned however you like it. Add it alternately with a half cup of warm water with a teaspoon of salt dissolved in it. Don’t forget the salt. Stir this all into a nice wet dough and leave it in your covered bowl, wrapped in some towels to keep it warm. 

This dough needs to sit for at least an hour or so, until it gets good and bubbly and increases noticeably in bulk. I have left it to sit all day on many occasions and it’s been fine.  Then you scrape it onto a board covered with flour, a big mess! You will want to have about a cup and a half more flour on hand nearby to keep your board good and floured. They say too much whole wheat flour makes the dough heavy, so I use unbleached flour here. Then use your hands and a butter knife to scrape the dough up into a mass that you can smash and fold and smash and fold, sprinkling flour all over town as you go. I don’t feel like I’ve done anything unless my shirt and most of the kitchen flour are white with flour. You fold the dough over on itself and you turn it in the flour mess and you fold it again. And turn it, and so on. 

It will stick to your hands and the board at first, so you can take a minute here and there to scrape it off and gob it all together. Knead for about 8 minutes, and you’ll notice – it stops sticking so much, and it starts to get “elastic” – smooth and rubbery, streeetttcchhhhy! Once it feels  nice and smooth on your hand, you can gather it into a nice little ball and set it out to rise again for about 30 to 40 minutes. I put mine on a well-floured board and cover it with a little tent made from a “single use” plastic film bag. Or you can put it in a floured bowl and put some sort of cover over the top, so it doesn’t dry out. It will get very big and fluffy. 

I like bread dough, it’s like Flubber – very dynamic!

When it has again increased noticeably in bulk, you can take it carefully into your well-floured hands, and start stretching it into whatever form you prefer. Some people roll it with a rolling pin. I prefer to stretch it. I can make a pretty good little circle, as you can see above. I use the backs of my fists, to start, and I let the weight of the dough pull itself. I move my hands apart as I push the dough around in a circle, using my wrists and arms as the pie gets bigger. I spin it around, and throw it up in the air once in a while, eh Luigi?! It’s clumsy, and sometimes it tears, but you can mend it. In fact, you can gather it back in a ball and start over, it’s pretty forgiving. 

We used to put ours on a lightly oiled cookie sheet, but we got a ginchee round pan at Walmart for three bucks. 

My husband is in charge of the toppings – starting with our own tomato sauce, from last year’s garden, and some mozarella. Then he looks through the refrigerator and sees what there is to see. No two pies are alike. 

Bake your pie in a 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes – until it’s bubbly on top, and the crust around the edge is golden brown. We slide ours off the pan onto our broiler pan to cool before we put it on the bread board to cut.  Keeps it from getting soggy.  We usually make two pies, one after another, so we can have cold pizza for breakfast and lunch. 

This summer, we’re going to experiment with the pot webber so we an avoid baking in the house when the temperatures get up into three digits. For this it ‘s suggested to use a pizza stone, and a pan of water placed among the coals to prevent burning – we use this “indirect method”  to cook whole chickens and turkeys, works great. I’ll let you know how it turns out – you do same! 

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