Monday, August 23, 2010


Whenever I mention to someone that I made pizza from scratch on a weeknight, the reaction is usually along the lines of "Gee, must be nice to have all that time," or "you're a psycho," or something like that. It's not such a big deal, really, and you can have a lovely homemade pie on the table in about an hour and a half from start to finish. Here's how.

First, and most fundamentally, the dough.  I've seen people "make pizza" on a ready made crust, but it is not nearly the same thing. (I do make "mini-pizzas" on English muffins now and then for the kids, but that's a whole different creature -- like the difference between instant coffee and real coffee. Both incarnations have a time and a place, and as long as you don't think of one as a credible substiute for the other, then you won't be disappointed.) ANYWAY, onwards! The dough!

You need about 1 1/4 cups of warm water. I like to heat cold water in a saucepan rather than trust the warm water from the tap -- I mean really, the hot water heater must be SUPER gross inside. Use more water if you have more people to serve -- this yields enough dough for 4 smallish pizzas, two largish ones, and one mega-ya-ya-ya 'za! Add about 1/2 a tablespoon of sugar to the water and about 1 tablespoon of yeast.

Let the yeast and water bubble away until you are sure the yeast is alive and well. (If not, off to Loblaws!)

While you're waiting for this, add about two cups of flour to a big bowl. Sprinkle some dried oregano in there, and add several pinches of salt (about a teaspoon). Keep about 1 cup of flour on hand for adding later.

When the yeast is nice and frothy, add about a tablespoon of oil to it. Give the goop as stir, and...

...add it to the flour.

Start stirring gently with a spoon. Once the flour isn't in danger of flying around all over the place, stir a bit more vigorously.

You'll soon end up with a goopy mess. Add more flour, about 1/4 cup at a time, and stir some more. Eventually, stirring will become a major drag, so work the spoon out (flour will help you extract it).

Then start kneading with your hands right in the bowl (don't turn it out onto the counter, it just makes more mess -- working in the bowl keeps things nice and tidy). Gradually add more flour everytime the ball gets too sticky until you've used about a full cup and the dough develops a nice elastic un-gummy texture.

Form a nice ball. Then give it a light coat of olive oil.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for one hour. This time of year it can rise just fine on the counter. In the winter, your house might be too cold (mine always is) so put the bowl in the oven with the lightbulb on -- that provides enough warmth for perfect rising.

Make some garlic oil now too. Just slice a clove of garlic into a teacup and cover with olive oil. Let this rest while the dough rises.

After an hour, your wee ball of dough will look like this. Heat your oven to about 475, and position one of the racks at the lowest setting.

Cut your dough into however many pizzas you want to make.

I only made one pizza tonight, so I made the leftover dough into a new ball, covered the bowl, and stuck in the fridge for another pizza -- it will rise slowly overnight and be ready for lunch or supper tomorrow. If it gets too big, punch it down and it will grow some more for the next day.

Flour a suitable surface (I use a pizza peel).

Add the dough you want to use and roll it out, adding a bit flour and/or flipping it over as necessary to keep your rolling pin from sticking.

Put some fine cornmeal on a cookie sheet. (You could use a pizza stone, but I find they don't make a big difference -- cookie sheets heat up pretty quick and yield great results with less fuss.)

Move your rolled dough to the cookie sheet and add some of that nice garlic oil you made earlier.

Now, get ready to make awesome crust! Pizza crust is one of my favourite things, so I put a bit of extra effort into it. I dress the crust with sea salt, grated parm, and fresh rosemary.

But first, you need a nice crust base. Pinch a bit of the dough over with your right hand. Then put the index finger of your left hand where the index finger of your right hand is and make a new pinch right beside the first. Work your way around the pie until... have a nice pinched crust edge. (My girls have become pros at this!)

Then add a light dusting of salt, your grated parm, and the chopped rosemary and you will be set for an awesome crust.

Next comes the pizza toppings. I don't mind prepared sauce, but you're more than welcome to make your own. I also like fresh basil, bacon (breakfast left-overs!), onions, and home grown aji limon chiles! For mozza, I like tre stella -- the full fat stuff (don't use skim mozza -- it's just a huge eraser disguised as cheese). One of these mozza balls is NOT enough for 4 personal pizzas, it will work with three, and is great for two.  Plan accordingly!

Pizza sauce goes on first.

Then the basil leaves (they will incinerate if placed on top of the cheese).

Then the cheese (mmmmmm cheeeeeeese).

Then the bacon, onions, and chiles. You can also add the garlic from the garlic oil you made -- it will be WONDERFUL! Fire it in the oven for 12 minutes (I like to turn the cookie sheet around 180 degrees at the halfway mark -- watch out! It's hot in there!).

Then take your creation out of the oven and let it rest for a couple of minutes before slicing -- unless you happen to like molten, sticky strings of mozza oceaning all over your kitchen.

Serve with red, white, water, or beer -- it's all good. And if you have good company too, then you are truly blessed! Mangia!


  1. Joe...why didnt I marry you??? LOL Looks great my friend I am very impresssed. Beats Delisio hands down! Linda F.

  2. :D Seems to me like you made a pretty great catch with Mr. Fudge anyway! Hope you give the pizza a try -- it really hits the spot!

  3. Totally unrelated - I thought you might like to see this Joe:
    Street party anyone!