Friday night was the perfect evening for an impromptu pizza party. David and I had made plans to explore Georgetown but the explosion of tourists made it near impossible. Instead, I had the great idea to make a homemade pizza using a recipe from my friend Jim Collison. What would we need? A quick trip to the store and investment in yeast packets, a basil plant and a green pepper (although interestingly, the first store didn’t have yeast due to some malfunction “at the yeast factory.” Had to walk a bit further to the Harris Teeter which always has everything in beautiful colors and sample sizes).
The result was a 9:30 PM homemade pizza that was beautiful and delicious. The basil was incredible and the crust was perfect. Ten extra points for making use my oft-abandoned Kitchen Aid mixer!
Note: When we purchased pizza sauce, there were three options: Ragu, Prego! and the happy little yellow can of authentic pizza sauce. We went with the specialty sauce, which was infinitely more tasteful. Recipe (directly from Jim) after the jump.
Spinach, green peppers, and basil
Jim’s Homemade Pizza (based on the original recipe by Marsha Collison)
Makes one 13″ pizza
15 minutes to mix dough
30 minutes to rest dough
10 minutes to prepare pizza
22-28 minutes to bake pizza
Start to finish: a bit under 90 minutes
Equipment You’ll Need:
1 Large Mixing Bowl
1 Fork or sturdy item to stir/mix with (electric mixers tend not to work well for this task)
1 13-inch pizza pan
Non-stick cooking spray (like “Pam”)
1 pizza cutting wheel or metal spatula
Ingredients for the Crust:
1 1/4 cups warm water (not hot)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons yeast
2 1/4 – 3 cups flour
Directions for the crust:
1. Combine water, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Mix together with a fork (or whisk), until you have a fairly uniform, beige-colored water.
2. Mix in flour in 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup amounts at a time, using a fork to mix it in along the way (later you might need to use your hands as the dough gets stiffer). Once you’ve got a ball of dough in the bowl that isn’t tacky and holds together fairly well, you’ve added enough flour (typically around 3 cups total will have gone in).
3. Let the dough ball sit undisturbed in the bowl for 30 minutes at room temperature. You might want to cover the bowl with a paper towel if you’ve got flies or other creepy-crawlies around.
4. After letting the dough rest, punch it down, and knead for about 3 minutes (you might need to dust your hands or the dough ball with flour to keep yourself from sticking to the ball). The dough should have an elastic-like texture to it at this point (scientifically, these are known as gluten bonds).
5. Take your pizza pan and spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray. Put the dough ball in the middle of the pan, and use the palms of your hands to spread the dough ball into a disc, working from the middle outward to the edges. You might want to dust the the top of the ball with flour to prevent your hands from sticking. Also, rotating the pizza pan while you work often makes the task easier and results in a more even distribution of the dough. Once you’ve pushed the dough into a flat disc all the way to the pan edges, you’re done!
Bonus flourish: If you’d like a nice thick edge to your crust, push the dough edge slightly beyond the edge of the pan (all the way around), and then roll the edge back over the top of the dough disc (kind of like rolling back the covers on a bed). This rolled edge makes for a smooth crust border, and is extra thick upon baking. Plus it acts as a barrier to prevent the sauce and toppings from wandering too far.
3/4 cup of pizza sauce (NOT spaghetti sauce)
1 1/2 – 2 cups of low-moisture, part-skim, shredded Mozzarella Cheese (do not use low-fat)
Ham, Pepperoni, Mushrooms, Peppers, etc. (in amounts you desire)
Dried Parsley flakes (optional)
1. Spread the pizza sauce around the dough disc, until it’s 3/4″ from the edges (or until you hit the rolled up edge). Be sure to use pizza sauce (like Ragu Pizza Sauce) and not Spaghetti Sauce as the flavor is quite different.
2. Add toppings (aside from cheese) in what ever amounts you like. Be sure to spread evenly over the entire pizza.
3. Add cheese as the final topping. Use anywhere from 1 to 2 cups total. For an added color flourish, sprinkle dried parsley flakes over the top of the cheese, or use a few small bits of green pepper.
Baking the pizza:
1. Place the pizza on the middle rack of your cold oven.
2. Put the oven temp at 400 degrees, and set a timer for 22 minutes.
3. After 22 minutes, check on the pizza. If the cheese is just starting to brown across the top, then it’s done. If not, let it cook another 3 – 7 minutes until you see the slight browning of the cheese (check every 2 minutes during this period). Please note: all ovens are different, and your may take slightly shorter or much longer for ideal browning.
4. When done, remove the pizza from the oven, and let it rest for 2 minutes before cutting.
5. Cut pizza into 6 or 8 pieces using the rotary pizza cutting wheel (or metal spatula if you lack a pizza cutter).
6. Enjoy! (but be careful as pizza sauce can be much hotter than crust or cheese)