It’s (Homemade) Pizza Night!
Most families have pizza night, a night when everybody can kick back and relax, with pizza delivery doing all the work.
Having been a busy mom myself, in those years when we had two growing boys to feed, I get it. So I hate to bring up another level of work for pizza night.
But here’s the thing: it’s really easy to make your own pizza dough and if you do, you can add just the toppings you want. It’s likely to be more economical and more nutritious since you can control the sodium and fat. And when it comes to taste, there’s nothing more mouthwatering than homemade pizza, fresh and fragrant from the oven.
I use pizza making, like making soup, as a way to utilize the odd bits of onion, carrots, and whatever else is left over in the vegetable bin that isn’t enough to make a dish on its own.
My go-to recipe is Food Processor Pizza Dough, adapted from a recipe by Fleishmann’s Yeast. I was the PR manager of Fleishmann’s Yeast in a previous life and helped to produce the cookbook that this recipe comes from.
This dough is very forgiving. It doesn’t take any rising time—just 10 minutes to rest. You can make it the night before and wrap it in plastic wrap or pop it in a zip-top freezer bag, and refrigerate it overnight. The dough will rise in the fridge so it will be a bigger mass than when you put it in. Just remove it about 15 minutes before you plan to use the dough, punch it down to remove the air, shape and bake.
You can also freeze pizza dough. As soon as it’s made, dust it in flour or give it a light rubbing of olive oil, pop it into a zip-top freezer bag and stash it in your freezer, where it will keep for up to three months. To use, thaw it in the fridge overnight.
If you’ve never worked with yeast before, the most important thing is getting the temperature of the water right. Too hot and you’ll kill the yeast; too cold and the yeast won’t rise sufficiently. Either way, you’ll have a dense dough without the airy, chewiness that makes a good pizza crust.
If you don’t have an instant read thermometer, measure out your water into a measuring cup and dip your fingers all the way down into the water; it should feel very hot but comfortable enough that you can keep your fingers in it, without pulling away.
Food Processor Pizza Dough
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 package Fleischmann’s RapidRise Yeast
¾ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
¾ to 1 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
Insert metal blade in food processor bowl. Add flour, undissolved yeast and salt; process 5 to 10 seconds to combine. Add oil. Begin processing then slowly pour water through feed tube just until ball forms, about 10 to 15 seconds (all water may not be needed). Continue processing 60 seconds to knead dough.
Carefully remove dough and blade from processor bowl (dough may be wrapped around sharp blade). Shape dough into ball. Cover; let rest on floured surface 10 minutes.
Lightly oil one (14-inch) round pizza pan. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Roll dough to fit pan. Add toppings of your choice. Bake at 400°F for 20 to 30 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is heated through. Baking time depends on size and thickness of crust and selected toppings.
Makes one 14-inch pizza crust.
Recipe adapted from Fleischmann’s Yeast Best-Ever Breads cookbook.
Here are some suggested toppings:
- Sauces: pesto, hoisin, barbecue, prepared pizza or spaghetti sauce, salsa, enchilada sauce
- Cheeses: Cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack, Manchego, Dubliner, mozzarella, feta, brie, blue, ricotta, goat cheese
- Vegetables: zucchini, tomato, mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, spinach, arugula, asparagus, onions, radicchio, kale
- Fruits: apples, pineapple, pears, fresh figs, dried figs or dried plums,
- Meats: bacon, pepperoni, shredded rotisserie chicken, pulled pork, ham, sausage, smoked salmon, smoked turkey, prosciutto, cooked ground meat (beef, lamb, turkey or chicken), crumbled
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