Homemade Pizza Dough and Sauce

Homemade pizza is a weekly staple in our house.  For some families, going out for pizza is a treat.  For us, homemade pizza nights are our treat.  I haven’t always been good at making pizza, but I’ve certainly honed my talents over the years in this area.

The thought of making my own pizza dough used to intimidate me.  I’ve definitely been through my share of not-quite-right and just-plain-wrong recipes for pizza dough – and I won’t link to those recipes because that would be mean.  At first, I had this idea that I had to make ultra-healthy whole wheat dough for it to be worth making at home.  So far, I’ve not found a wheat dough recipe that I like much at all.  Perfect pizza dough is very much a texture thing.  To me, wheat flour screws up the texture all together.  Some may disagree.

I have two wonderful dough recipes to share.  The one you go with will depend on how much time you have.

The time-consuming recipe is flat-out amazing. It’s exactly what I think of when I think of NY Style pizza – crispy, crackery on the bottom with a puffy, crunchy crust.  It’s still no Bleeker Street Pizza, but it’s darn good.  You have to make the dough at least the night before you want to use it and you’ll need to chill your flour before digging into this recipe.  Plan for those things if you want to tackle this dough.  Then, plan to start working with it at least 3 hours before you’re ready to use it.  The great news is that you’ll have 6 balls of dough to use for your pizza-making pleasure before you have to make the dough again.  And, dough freezes well.

The quick-but-still-wonderful recipe is pictured here and it’s what happens when you haven’t planned ahead and don’t have a heckuva lot of time before dinner needs to be on the table.  It’s different from the first in texture (much more dense and puffy) and taste, but I have no problems at all with it.

Quick Pizza Dough (adapted slightly from the original)

Printable Recipe

– INGREDIENTS –

2 1/2 cups warm water (not hot)
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
4-6 cups flour

– PREPARATION –

1. Combine water, yeast, sugar, salt and olive oil in your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Let it stand for 5 minutes.  You should see the yeast activate and form a foamy layer on the top of the liquids.  If it doesn’t, start over.  Your yeast may be expired or your water may be too hot (or not hot enough).
2.  Add 1 cup of flour to bring it all together.  Add one more cup of flour and mix through for 1-2 minutes.  The dough is the consistency of cake batter at this point.  Add 2-4 more cups of flour, 1 cup at a time until a smooth, elastic consistency is reached.  Continue to kneed with the dough hook for 6-10 minutes.
3. Place the dough in a bowl (or keep it in the bowl of your mixer if you like) sprayed with cooking spray and cover with a kitchen towel.  Let it rise for about 1 hour.  It will look something like this.

4. Cut the dough in half.  If you don’t need both, you can wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a few days or freeze it in a freezer-safe plastic bag.

5. Preheat your oven to 425.  If you’re using a baking stone (which I recommend), go ahead and put it in to preheat as well.  It’ll make for a crispier crust.

6.  Roll the dough out on a floured surface.  Transfer the crust to your stone and brush it with olive oil, use a fork to poke holes in the dough (to prevent air bubbles), sprinkle with salt, garlic and italian seasoning.

7.  Par-bake the crust for about 7 minutes.  This is an optional step, but it helps the dough have a less gooey texture right next to the sauce.

8.  Add your sauce and toppings of choice.  Place it back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

This is the final result.  Gorgeous, right?  Want to make your own sauce, too?  Read on.

Easy Pizza Sauce

– INGREDIENTS –

1 large can tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon of sugar
spices to taste, suggestions: salt, garlic, basil

– PREPARATION –

1. Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Heat over medium high heat until bubbling.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour.

2. After cooling, the sauce can be divided into small containers to freeze until needed.

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