I attempted making pizza from scratch a couple of years ago and failed miserably. I was so excited to make my first pizza, a buffalo chicken one, and when I finally took my first bite the crust was so hard I almost dislocated my jaw. I’m exaggerating but it was absolutely inedible and the event was made even more tragic by the fact that pizza is one of my favorite things in the whole world. I have unearthed a picture of said pizza so you can commiserate with my pain.
Since then, I’ve had a real fear of making pizza dough from scratch and never tried again…until 3 days ago. I don’t know what came over me, I woke up and decided I was gonna brave pizza from scratch! And I’m very happy to report that I finally got it right. Fanfare!
I followed Jamie Oliver’s pizza dough recipe with a couple of additions of my own just to flavor the dough. I also halved the recipe cos it looked like it would make a LOT.
To make pizza dough, you’ll need:
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 T salt
2 1/4 t active dry yeast
1/2 T sugar
1 t Italian seasoning
3/4 t garlic powder
2 T olive oil
1 3/4 cups warm water
1. Add the olive oil, sugar, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and warm water into a big measuring cup and stir to mix thoroughly. Add the yeast and set aside. It turns the mixture a creamy color and it starts to foam a little later, about 5 minutes. Fascinating!
2. While the yeast is busy getting activated, sift the flour and salt into a big mixing bowl. Once sifted, create a well in the center.
3. Pour the yeast mixture into the well and stir around the edges of the well with a fork to gradually work flour into it. Keep stirring until the dough comes together. It won’t stick to the sides of your bowl and only slightly to the bottom.
4. Grease the sides and bottom of a big mixing bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to this bowl and cover with a damp dishtowel. Set aside someplace warm (right now in the Philippines that would be ‘anywhere you want’) for 2 hours. I underestimated how much this dough would rise and had to happily switch to a bigger bowl.
While the dough was rising, I caramelized some onions to use as topping. They’re a little time-consuming but easy to make and yummy! So a little intermission on that. I chopped up 4 large onions, a mix of red and white, and tossed them into a pan with 2 T of butter. Sprinkle with some salt and just keep cooking, stirring often but not too often that they don’t get a chance to brown, for about 45 minutes.
When they were done, I deglazed the pan with a splash of red wine. You can also deglaze with balsamic vinegar and add herbs if you like. Voila! Isn’t it amazing how they shrink to like, nothing?
Oh, and sauce! I made a white sauce. Cooked 3 T of flour in 2 T butter for about 5 minutes, gradually whisked in a cup of milk and grated in about 1/2 cup cheddar cheese that I had in the fridge. Seasoned with salt, freshly ground black pepper and a dash of nutmeg.
Now back to that dough. After 2 hours, mine looked like this.
Perfection! This is the same bowl I used to mix this dough by the way so it seems my dough almost tripled in size. What an overachiever!
5. Preheat oven to 200 C. Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface (my biggest chopping board, in my case) and knead it to push the air out. I’m not sure what this does. I saw an article that said you punch the dough (what this process is called and yes, you can literally punch it) so you could knead it but I am kneading already so that doesn’t make much sense. I think maybe it’s so you don’t get air bubbles in your crust. Anyway. Back to my gorgeous dough. It was springy and elastic, smelled like garlic and herb.
6. Divide the dough into the number of pizzas you wanna make. I divided mine into 6. Flour the dough balls generously and roll out. I threw out that cardboard cling wrap holder so this time I used a wine bottle. I found that I could also just stretch the dough by holding it up and moving my hands around the edges of the dough while it droops from its own weight. Just be careful so it doesn’t tear. I also cling wrapped the other dough balls and put them in the refrigerator while my pizza baked because they were starting to dry out on top.
7. Time to build the pizza! I first spread a layer of the white sauce and then topped with caramelized onions, crisped bacon, chunks of goat cheese, toasted walnuts then scissored some arugula.
8. To bake, I lined my baking tray with parchment paper and dusted it with cornmeal. Speaking of parchment paper, I learned the hard way that it has an unwaxed side a couple of years ago. My candied walnuts all had white bits of parchment paper on them, that was not fun. So make sure the waxed side is up. I also learned the hard way that the pizza should be built on the baking tray or at least on the prepared parchment paper – it’s hard to transfer everything when the dough is all stretchy and stuff you know? Pop in the oven and bake for 11 minutes.
These pizzas are actually over-baked. Baked at 175 C for about 25 minutes, the crust turned out too hard. The recipe I used doesn’t say how to bake it so tried out a couple different temperatures and 11 minutes at 200 C is best. They should look more like this:
It’s also better to top it with arugula once it’s done baking so it’s fresh and crunchy. So there! That’s my pizza from scratch! I was in such a celebratory mood and fancied it up with some truffle honey. Truffle honey is divine. Don’t pass up if it comes your way.
What a beauty! Sweet, salty, cheesy, nutty, peppery, earthy, herby…it also ticked so many of the boxes. And this crust is absolutely delicious. I’ve made it again and played around with caramelized leeks, roasted bell pepper, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, cashews, pesto…the possibilities are endless and so much fun! It’s also really nice when you brush the crust with the pesto or the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes. If you just baked this dough, it would make a lovely bread.
This experience was monumental to me so I annoyed all my friends by registering ‘Made Pizza From Scratch’ as a Life Event on Facebook. Please don’t hesitate to congratulate me.
Fun Food Fact: The Pizza Margherita was named after Queen Margherita of Savoy. It was made to look like the Italian flag with green basil, red tomato and white mozzarella.