Test Kitchen: Homemade pizza

My homemade pizza can’t compete with the beauty of the professionally crafted slices the About staff tried for this issue, but it sure has heart.

My homemade pizza can’t compete with the beauty of the professionally crafted slices the About staff tried for this issue, but it sure has heart.

I started by making homemade pizza sauce because I’m an overachiever. This recipe was a cinch, and once you get everything in the pot, you just let it simmer. I opted for chicken broth and tomatoes that had little to no salt added so that I could season the sauce on my own. It makes enough that you definitely will have some left over to freeze and to use for dipping your pizza.

Next, I used a tried-and-true dough recipe I’ve relied on for years. Usually, I get a little anxious about recipes that involve yeast, but I haven’t messed this one up yet. I heated my water up in an electronic teapot that lets me set the temperature, which leaves little room for error. (Admittedly, I do not own a thermometer.) I only added an extra 1 1/2 cups of flour and then mixed the dough with a wooden spoon and kneaded it directly in the bowl for five minutes. Then I covered it with a kitchen towel and ignored it for a half-hour.

For the dough recipe, you end up splitting your ball of dough in half after you let it sit. If you’re making thick crust (which I did), the dough rises for an additional half-hour until it doubles in size. I put the balls in two pie pans that I greased with olive oil and dusted with cornmeal, and I set the pans on top of the oven while it preheated, since the dough is supposed to rise in a warm place.

(I have tried splitting the dough and freezing half of it for later use, since I’m usually only cooking for one or two people, but the thawed dough never seems to bake as well for me. If anyone has any tips on how to make that more successful, please send them my way.)

I baked the dough for 20 minutes—until it turned golden on the edges—before assembling my pizza and baking it again.

The best part about homemade pizza is getting to put whatever you want on it. I topped my pie with mozzarella, crushed pineapple, Canadian bacon and some of the leftover basil I had (my version of a Hawaiian pizza). I put all the toppings except the pineapple underneath the cheese, which kept the dough nice and crispy. It was delicious, and I loved the taste of the homemade sauce—it was much less acidic than what you’d get from the jar.

The whole process was easy, but it wasn’t exactly quick, so I’d save this endeavor for when you’ve got some time.

For the sauce:
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup chicken broth
Three 15-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Pinch sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
8 to 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped

For the dough:
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package regular or quick active dry yeast
3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 cup very warm water (120 degrees to 130 degrees)

For the sauce:
Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil into a hot pan over medium-high heat. Throw in the garlic and chopped onions and give them a stir. Cook until the onions are soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, whisking to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid reduces by half. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of sugar. Add the dried oregano and basil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Recipe SOURCE: foodnetwork.com (The Pioneer Woman)

For the dough:
Mix 1 cup of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast in large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons oil and the warm water. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour until dough is soft and leaves sides of bowl. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead 5 to 8 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes.

For thick crust: Grease two square pans, 8-by-8-by-2 inches, or two round pans, 9-by-1 1/2 inches, with oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Divide dough in half. Pat each half in bottom of pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place 30 to 45 minutes or until almost double in size. Move oven rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Partially bake 20 to 22 minutes or until crust just begins to brown. Add toppings and bake about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.

For thin crust: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease two cookie sheets or 12-inch pizza pans with oil. Divide dough in half. Pat each half into 12-inch circle on cookie sheets. Partially bake 7 to 8 minutes or until crust just begins to brown. Add toppings and bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

SOURCE: Betty Crocker

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass