I (husband) posted this picture (shown below) on Facebook and I can’t believe the response! Everyone likes pizza I guess. One friend asked what cheese I use, saying she’s making it today. Another said they’d drive 10 hours and bring the wine.
So for those of you who want to make this yourself, I’m going to give you all my secrets to making my pizza here. My only request is that if you use this recipe, send me a photo, so I can post it here.
Pizza is fun to make. My suggestion is to give yourself as much time as you can. I like to make it on weekends just for this reason. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have the time. It can take you a couple of hours if you do it my way, plus the time to visit your local Italian bakery. Enjoy the experience with a bottle of wine and some company, and your reward will be the raves and compliments as they devour it.
1) Go Shopping. You’ll need the pizza dough. Now my son, will want to make the dough himself I suppose, but you can buy a bag which makes one entire pizza, already made, for under $2. I say buy it. It’s essentially just flour and water. You can also find a favorite from your local Italian or grocery store. When I buy the dough, I like to get at least two bags, to make two baking pans at once. Lately, I have been going to the new Alescis on Solon road in Solon, but I have also bought dough at Heinen’s, which has a really good whole wheat brand.
Next, spend the time picking out the ingredients you’ll want on your pizza.
Here’s my list of necessities: 1) Pizza dough, 2) Sauce (red or white), unless you want to make your own like we do, 3) Cheese. Depending on the cost of the cheese(s) you select, this is the lowest cost food item you’ll ever make.
A word about cheese: Cheese can really add a lot of texture and flavor, so be picky what you use. Most pizza blends of cheese are provolone and mozzarella, but I like to go for bittier cheeses like extra sharp cheddar. You can really have fun with the blend of flavors, and if you don’t care as much about cost, can go for some of the more expensive, exotic cheeses. Many “gourmet” pizza use exotic cheeses, and instead of shredded, they’ll slice chunks and lay it on top. You can be creative and come up with all sorts of new inventions in pizza.
Now come the additions, listed in order of what I like best on my pizzas: 4) Pepperoni (lots of it), 5) Black olives, 6) Mushrooms (I like the mushy kind, from the Italian store or from a can), 6) Banana peppers, 7) Onion, 8) Green, yellow and/or red peppers (great for adding color, but can over power the taste), 9) Garlic, 10) Tomato, 11) Hamburger meat (beef, turkey and/or pork), etc. Look around the store and use your imagination. Have fun picking out what you’re going to add but pay attention to the blend of flavors. Some just like pizza plain, with just pepperoni, red sauce and cheese, for instance. Some like me like a blend of many items that bring out all sorts of flavors.
Depending on how much you want to work, while you’re shopping and picking out components to add to your pizza, decide whether you want to buy these additions already diced and/or sliced, or you want to do it yourself at home. If you can recruit some help, everyone can get into the fun by dicing and slicing whatever you buy. It’s a great teaching opportunity for the young ones.
2) Slice and dice your ingredients. This is where recruits are necessary, in my opinion, so you can get this done relatively quickly. Otherwise, buy the items already sliced. Definity purchace your peperroni already sliced.
3) Prepare your pans. I pour a good portion of EVOO into my baking pans and rub the oil into them using my fingers. This is important as you will want the pizza to slide off the pan onto a cutting board, so you can easily cut it into slices and not damage your baking pans.
4) Spread the dough. This is the hardest part and the least liked by me. I’ve tried adding flour and using a rolling pin, but have found it easiest to just work slowly and stretch the dough out onto the pan with your fingers. The trick is to be sure that the dough has sat out of the refrigerator for at least an hour, and not more than two. It needs to get up to room temperature, and then will be easier to work with. Once you have spread the dough onto your pans, you can start adding all the ingredients.
5) Add your sauce. The first ingredient of course is the sauce. I pour it onto the dough generously and spread it with a large spoon. I try and get all the areas covered, careful not to get any onto the metal of the pan, as it will make cleaning the pan more difficult later.
6) Add your ingredients. The order of what you place on your pizza is important. Since I double-bake my pizzas (more about this below), I add the “watery” items first. Anything that needs some evaporation, like those canned mushrooms I like, or the black olives. I would also suggest anything that takes longer to break down, like peppers, be added onto the pizza for the first baking. Do NOT add the cheese at this time. This will be added for the second baking. The trick is to make sure the dough get’s baked, that any water evaporates in the form of steam, and items that require more time to break down in heat, are added first. You can also elect to pre-cook any of your ingredients, in a frying pan, such as to sautée onions with your peppers. Again, pay attention to the blending of flavors before deciding what to throw onto your pizza.
7) Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 450 to 475 degrees in a convection oven. You should use a timer (because by now the wine might be getting to you), but pay attention to your creation as it bakes in the oven. Take a peak every now and then. The goal this first baking remember is to get the dough to bake, so the bottom is crispy, get the water to steam off and get the tougher items to cook. If you’re at high altitude, then make the adjustment to temperature and time as necessary.
8) Remove from oven and add your additional items. After removing the pan(s) from the oven, first add the cheese. You may just add once layer, depending on what you’re adding next. The add all the remaining ingredients. I would also suggest adding salt and pepper, perhaps before adding the cheese. I think the older we get, the more we like salt, but this is a matter of taste and what you’re use to. The last think I add it the pepperoni, to my pizzas, on top of the cheese. This makes it look and taste great. But again, have some fun with your creation, and do it as you believe will add to the flavor as you imagine. I don’t think you can ever make a mistake.
9) Place pan(s) back into oven for 10 to 15 minutes. The goal in this second baking it to melt the cheese and brown the edges. Don’t leave this stage unattended, as it is possible to overcook the pizza. Sometimes, depending on what you have added, you can set the oven on broil, and brown the top and melt the cheese quickly. This second baking is very dependent on what’s been added.
10) Once pizza looks done, remove from oven. Slide the pizza off the cooking pan onto a large cutting board and let it cool. Once it is ready, use a roller cutter (just for pizza making) to slice it up. Then you can place the slices back onto the baking pan and serve.
A final word about my double-baked pizza technique. This is really what sets a soggy pizza apart from a crispy one. There are pans sold at cooking stores, that have holes in them for baking the dough. Don’t buy these. You can’t spread the dough in them. Looks like a good idea, but it’s not, at least the way I make my pizzas. I have decided to not apply for a patent (tongue in cheek) for my double-baked pizza-making technique, and am giving it to all my friends and family, on one condition: You send me pictures of your pizza creations! 🙂
So here’s what friends made and their comments:
- Caramelized onions, sausage and mushrooms.
- Pancetta, mushrooms and fontina cheese.
- Artichokes, banana peppers and olives.
- Fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and arugula.
I forgot to put the cheese under the toppings. Still good though.