I know that my family is not all that unique in the fact that we love pizza, who doesn’t? I think everyone does, whether they admit it or not, and a 3 year-old boy will unashamedly request it for every meal. As tempting as that may be for the rest of us, this is where parenting comes in. As a compromise, I have decided to make Friday nights “pizza night” and we are going to make our own pizza instead of ordering it in. The benefit to this is 3 fold. 1 – it saves us money, 2 – it’s healthier, 3 – I can make myself a little pizza with just about whatever I want on it. I have also made it my mission to become an expert pizza maker so that by the time the kids are old enough to complain that we aren’t ordering in pizza, I will have perfected my technique so much that they prefer mine to even the best restaurant pie. We’ll see.
So far, the best dough recipe I’ve found is this one by Tyler Florence. I also like that I can divide the dough into four equal parts for four decent sized pizzas. Generally I make one, then take the other three pieces of dough and put them into sandwich bags. I let them sit out a little until they rise enough to fill the bag, then put them all into a freezer bag and freeze them until the next Friday comes along. The individually frozen bags can sit out most of the afternoon and then they’re perfect by dinner time. Easy!
This week I made myself a yummy little individual pizza topped with mango chutney, bacon and blue cheese. Serve this baby with a lightly dressed frisee salad and a glass of pinot, and you have a perfect Mom-worthy meal while the kids (and hubs) go crazy for their more traditional cheese and sausage version.
Tyler Florence’s Pizza Dough
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees F.)
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for bowl
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and water and stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, 5 to 10 minutes.
If you’re using a stand mixer, combine the salt and flour to the bowl and pulse a few times to mix. Add the yeast mixture, at the lowest speed, until the flour incorporates. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough gathers into a ball. This should take about 2 minutes. Add the olive oil and pulse a few more times. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Get a feel for the dough as you’re making it by squeezing a small amount together between your thumb and fingers. If it’s crumbly, add more water, if it’s sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over itself a few times, kneading until it’s smooth and elastic.
If you’re making the dough by hand, add the yeast mixture to a large bowl and stir in the salt and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then begin stirring in the flour. When the mixture becomes too stiff to stir with a spoon, knead in the rest of the flour by hand, adding just enough so that the dough is soft but not too sticky. As you work, squeeze a small amount of dough together between your thumb and fingers. If it’s crumbly, add more water; if it’s sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Form the dough into a round and put it into a lightly oiled bowl, turning it over to coat the dough entirely with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot (i.e., over a gas pilot light) until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.