After a day at the zoo, what’s better than going out for pizza and a movie? It might be making really delicious pizza at home, renting a great movie for a $1 at Redbox… and popping popcorn topped with fresh-grated parmesan cheese. Spending $15 dollars for a fun night in instead of $75 going out is a great way to Make it Do. But for me, having fun making pizza, then enjoying the movie in PJ’s and slippers, with my family snuggled up is priceless.
The first step is making the pizza dough. For my recipe, I need to thank my Dad. He started making pizza when I was a little kid. We would go to the Pizza Oven on Parleys Way and he would sit and chat with the owner/chef while he watched him make pizza. Then he got a pizza stone and started making his own. Over the years he has worked on his recipe, trying new things and working to make it better. It’s one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten. Here’s his recipe:
Basic Pizza Dough
The dough for pizzas is best when dough is prepared the day (or several days) ahead. Place dough in a large bowl, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature at least two to three hours before using.
Dough for three 12-inch pizzas:
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons dry yeast
1 1/2 cups to 1 1/2 cups plus 4 tablespoons warm water
4 tablespoons olive oil
5 cups bread flour
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. In a small bowl, combine sugar and salt in warm 1 ½ cups warm water. Add yeast and allow yeast to activate about 10 minutes. Add flour, olive oil and up to 4 tablespoons warm water if needed and knead dough until well mixed. Dough is better when slightly stiff. After allowing dough to rise, form into pizza rounds, and rub tops with olive oil. Prebake pizza dough about 2 minutes at 500° F. on a pizza stone or about 3 minutes on a pizza pan. Top with sauce, cheese and favorite ingredients. Cook pizza in the oven until cheese is bubbly and starting to turn golden on the edges between 8- 12 minutes.
Sauce for 2 Pizzas
Simmer the following ingredients in a saucepan while the pizza rounds are being prepared:
2 (15 oz.) cans of tomato sauce
1 tsp. of oregano
1 tsp. of basil
2 tsp. brown sugar
2-3 cloves of fresh garlic
onion powder to taste
celery salt to taste
Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, here’s a step by step:
2. In a mixer add the yeast mixture with flour, and olive oil. I use a Bosch Universal Kitchen Machine with the bread hook and I knead for about 5 minutes. You can also use a Kitchenaid with a bread hook. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can do it the old fashioned way and knead it by hand. Believe it or not, they did make bread before electricity was invented. Just think of it as a toning workout for your arms! (The dough in the picture has just started mixing and is not ready.)
3. Once dough is well kneaded, place in a large bowl rubbed with olive oil. I also rub a little olive oil on the dough. I place plastic wrap right on top of the dough and more over the top of the bowl. You don’t want the dough to dry out. Refrigerate overnight or even a few days. Take out of the refrigerator and bring up to room temperature 2-3 hours before making pizzas.
4. Once the dough is about up to temperature and you are almost ready to start cooking, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. I invested in a pizza stone and it makes the pizza awesome. Make sure to place the stone in a cold oven, and and then heat it up.
5. Prepare sauce. I saute the minced garlic for about 30 seconds or until fragrant before adding the cans of tomato sauce and other ingredients. Simmer sauce on low while you prepare the topping and then dough.
6. Prepare the other toppings. For the three pizzas we use 2 pounds of shredded mozzarella. (Never use old mozzarella unless you want to ruin the pizza.) (The block of Frigo from Costco is two pounds, works well for pizza, and is a good price.) Chop up whatever other toppings you want… Drew likes mushrooms, pepperoni, olives, green pepper, onions and mild Italian sausage. I always precook the sausage. The kids just like pepperoni and olive. I love everything (except anchovies.)
6. Divide the dough into three even balls. Form the rounds by using your fingers and a rolling pin (I am told that real Italians don’t use a rolling pin, but I don’t have all day, so I use one.) I also love to throw the dough up in the air… maybe to make up for the rolling pin and make me feel a little Italian. Or maybe I want to put on a show for the kids. Actually, I really think it does something to the dough that helps get it nice and thin.
7. Once it is rolled out thin, stab it with a fork all over. (This keeps it from forming big bubbles in the baking.) And rub the dough with a good olive oil. Throw some corn meal on your pizza stone and pizza paddle to help things slide. At this point a great tip is to spray the inside of your oven from a spray bottle with water (or place water in an oven proof container in the oven. The moisture helps to make the dough more chewy. Put the dough round on the paddle and throw in the oven for 2 minutes to prebake. If you are using a pizza pan, prebake for 3 minutes. Once dough is prebaked, you are ready to top.
8. From here on out, Drew takes over. He used to work at the Pizza Factory in high school, so I get out of the way and let him do his stuff. He likes to use a ladle to spread the sauce out. He likes a lot of sauce.
9. Drew first spreads the mozzarella cheese. Next he puts on all the toppings. Then he grates parmesan cheese all over the top. Last he rubs about a 1/2 tsp of each of oregano and basil evenly over the top. And it is ready to cook.
10. Slice and eat. Oh man, it’s good.
Now it’s time for the movie, will anyone watch “Babe” with me? Oh… we get to watch “Bolt” instead. Oh well, don’t forget the popcorn!