So, we had homemade pizza over the weekend … there’s nothing like making your own pizza, right? Not only can you control what and how much (or how little) of the toppings you want on your own pizza, but you can also choose the best quality ingredients you can find or afford for the toppings & dough!

And if you have kids, the pizza making is a great way to bond and spend time with them. They can help to prepare the dough and toppings, roll out their own crusts and top their own pizzas any way they like (within reason, of course 🙂 ). It’s also a good way to get them to eat if they are choosy or picky eaters … let them choose & top their pizzas to make them feel that the pizzas they make from start to finish are really theirs, which should help ensure they’ll eat them.

My kid enjoyed helping me weigh and mix the dough ingredients, and I’d even let her slice the ham (obviously, I was hovering over her shoulder, worried that she might cut herself). She made for herself a smoked ham, mozzarella & Parmesan cheese pizza, stretching out her own pizza dough and spreading a base of a tomato-based pasta sauce that supplied her vegetable diet needs (she doesn’t like to eat vegetables but will eat a bit of such tomato-based pasta sauces). She happily devoured almost the whole 12″ pizza (less a 1/6th slice)! I think that’s quite a lot of pizza for a slim 10-year old, right?

I made fully loaded pizzas for my significant other & I, using good quality pepperoni, smoked ham, red & green capsicums, onions, fresh white button mushrooms, black olives, mozzarella and freshly grated Parmesan cheese on a bed of the tomato-based pasta sauce over a moderately thin crust. The crust was made from what I call Savory Olive Oil Dough, which has garlic powder and onion powder for additional flavor.

Here’s my recipe to make the dough …

Savory Olive Oil Dough
(Based on Cornmeal Olive Oil Dough recipe in Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day (1st Edition, November 2011) by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë Francois, pages 86-87)

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Dough Prep: 5-10 minutes
Dough Rise: 2 hours
Pizza Prep: 15 minutes
Oven: 450°F (230°C)
Bake: 8-10 minutes
Makes: 8 1/2-lb 12″ wide pizza crusts

Ingredients
2 3/4 cup lukewarm water (625mL or 625g)
1 Tablespoon instant yeast (10g)
1 Tablespoon fine table salt (17-25g)
3 Tablespoons honey
3/4 cup olive oil (not extra virgin) (165g)
6 cups bread flour (850g) (or all-purpose/plain flour)
3/4 cup all-purpose/plain flour (125g)
1/4 Tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 Tablespoon onion powder
Additional all-purpose/plain flour for dusting

Method
1. In a large bowl or food container (able to hold at least 5-quart or 4.7L), mix the yeast, salt and honey in the lukewarm water (about 100 to 110°F or 37 to 43°C).

2. Add the olive oil and using a sturdy wooden spoon, mix in the remaining ingredients. Ensure that all dry ingredients are incorporated (if necessary, use wet hands to help incorporate the last bits of dry flour).

3. Cover (not airtight) the bowl or container and allow it to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), about 2 hours.

4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when chilled. Store the dough covered (not airtight) in the refrigerator and use it within the next 10 days. Alternatively, store the dough for up to 3 weeks in the freezer in 1/2 lb portions.

5. To make a pizza, with flour-dusted hands and dusting the surface of the dough with a bit of all-purpose/plain flour, cut out about a 1/2 lb portion of the dough (approximately the size of an orange … use kitchen scissors or a serrated knife (like a steak knife) to cut the dough). Quickly stretch the skin of the dough from the top to bottom to make a ball (or just form it into a ball) and on a lightly-floured surface (I used baking parchment instead, which helped with carrying the pizza into and out of the oven), roll out or stretch the dough into a 12″ round (about 1/8 to 1/4″ thick), lightly dusting with additional all-purpose/plain flour if the dough feels too sticky. Top it with your choice of tomato-based sauce (or even a cream/cheese-based sauce), toppings and cheeses, but make sure not to lay too much of the toppings on the crust … I find not letting the toppings’ thickness exceed the thickness of the rolled out/stretched dough is a good guide of how much of the toppings you can lay on the crust.

6. Carefully place the pizza on a 450°C (230°C) preheated pizza stone or metal tray in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is nicely browned.

7. Remove the pizza from the oven, discard the baking parchment (if using), slice and serve it hot.

The picture above the recipe shows my version of a Double Pepperoni and Cheese Pizza based on this dough, which has excellent pepperoni in between generous amounts of shredded mozzarella cheese and topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese, all on a base of Prego Traditional Italian Sauce sprinkled with a bit of ground oregano. At the last minute, I decided to add whatever leftover sliced black olives I had in the fridge onto the middle of the pizza … looks great, doesn’t it?

Although the recipe makes ~12″ round pizzas, you can increase or decrease the size of your pizzas … to make smaller ones (e.g., “personal” pizzas that are 6″ wide) just use a smaller ball of dough. And if you want to make Sicilian-style pizzas (large, rectangular ones), roll out/stretch sufficient dough to fill a rectangular metal tray (or a tray of any size or shape) and top with your choice of toppings. You may need to increase or decrease the amount of baking time accordingly (increase the baking time for bigger pizzas or decrease the baking time for smaller pizzas … keep your eye on when the cheese nicely browns the first time you make the bigger/smaller pizzas, to determine how long to bake subsequent pizzas of the same size).

Here’s a picture of a Sicilian-style pizza from Jeff Hertzberg’s and Zoë Francois’ blog

Sicilian Style Pizza

Drop me a line if you decide to try this recipe … would love to hear how well it works for you!

Cheers!
Aldrin

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