We love pizza at our house. We probably eat it twice a week. I’ve been to Italy, the birthplace of pizza, and I thanked them personally for bringing this delightful treat into my world.
I have a recipe for basic homemade pizza dough that I have been using for years. It’s easy and fool proof. You just need to allow time for the dough to rise.
Basic Pizza Dough
2 teaspoons honey
1 package active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
3/4 cup warm water
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dissolve the honey and yeast in 3/4 cup warm water in a large bowl. Let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly. Spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 cups flour and salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes); add enough of the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky).
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place, 30 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If the indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
Roll dough into a 12-inch circle (about 1/4 inch thick) on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on a rimless baking sheet, parchment paper or pizza stone sprinkled with cornmeal. Crimp edges of dough with fingers to form a rim. Cover with toppings and bake or grill.
You can prepare an extra batch of dough to freeze and make at another time. Just follow the recipe through the first rise. Then punch the dough down, form in a ball, dust with flour and seal it in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Freeze for up to two weeks. To use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Allow to come to room temperature (about 30 minutes) before rolling it out.
Baking the Pizza, Pizza, Pizza.
If I had a million dollars, I would have a wood-fired pizza oven built in my house. That’s how much I love and understand good, good pizza. But since I don’t, have a million dollars, I make due with what I have. Usually, that is baking my pizza in the oven, on a cornmeal covered baking sheet. Or, in the summer, tossing the crust on the grill. Both ways are mighty fine and have worked for us.
But, some people claim that the secret to great homemade pizza is a pizza stone. Something about the preheated hot stone producing the perfect environment for a crispy crust. I have been admiring a Pizza Stone at Johnnies for months. Every time I stop in, I slowly walk by and “say hello.” I don’t understand my reluctance. It certainly wasn’t the price. Maybe it was the storage space? But how much space does a thin pizza stone consume? So, this week, giddy with excitement, I bought that pizza stone and brought it home.
I thoroughly read the instructions. As with all stoneware, don’t use oils or SOAPS on the stone. (It is porous and will absorb the smell and taste of the soap. Not what I want in a pizza!!) It’s also extremely important to preheat the stone. That’s how the magic happens and also prevents your stone from cracking. Preheat for at least 15 minutes, but 30 would be better. You can use it in the oven or on the grill and you can even add wood chips to create the smoky flavor of a wood-fired oven.
The tricky part is getting the rolled out crust onto the very hot stone. We had some trouble with this part. And, my husband was wary of not using any oils, etc. I think next time, to make it easier, I would use parchment paper. Then I would just slide the parchment paper onto the heated stone. Or, you could also use a pizza peel. Johnnies has aluminum peels and wooden peels. Long peels and shorter peels. This would definitely take my pizza preparation to a whole new level!
We eventually got our pizza on the stone and onto the grill. I think total cook time took about 15 minutes. We kept checking the crust until it was slightly browned around the edges. Obviously cooking time depends on the thickness of your crust.
We did have a bit of trouble getting the pizza off of the stone. It was the first time using the stone. I know over time it cures. Just another reason that I would probably use parchment paper on our next attempt.
Johnnies has several varieties of pizza sauce, including Don Pepino’s. They also have large bags of mozzarella cheese. They also carry cases of par baked pizza crust in 3 different sizes. So, if this process seems daunting or you don’t have time to let the dough rise, that might be the way to go. Basically, Johnnies has all the makings of a wonderful homemade pizza.
It’s up to you to figure out how you want to get there!!
(And don’t be fooled. You can use a pizza stone for so many other things……..cookies, chicken nuggets, French Fries, biscuits, just to name a few. If pizza isn’t your thing. You can still play along.)