Pizza, Pizza…Pizza!

Making your own pizza 100% from scratch might sound like a lot of work, but it’s really quite fun – especially when you get your family and friends involved! Let the kids shape their own mini pizzas with cookie cutters, and make funny faces with the toppings. And if you don’t feel like ordering different pizzas to appease everyone, let your family top their own, choosing from a vast spread of cheeses, vegetables, and meaty toppings! // by Lauren Yarborough Nikolas

INGREDIENTS:
For the crust (makes 4 total)

– 6 teaspoons vital wheat gluten
– 5 cups whole wheat flour
– 1/2 cup white flour
– 2 tablespoons yeast
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water

For the sauce (enough to cover 4 crusts)
– 1 13-ounce can of whole tomatoes
– 1 tablespoon white cooking wine
– 4-5 while sun-dried tomatoes
– 2 cloves crushed garlic
– 1 tablespoon oregano
– 6 or so torn-up spinach leaves

For the toppings
– Vanilla frosting and fruit or streusel (for dessert pizza)
– Vegetables (peppers, onion, olives, tomatoes, asparagus, spinach)
– Cooked meat (hamburger, sausage, pepperoni, chicken, bacon)
– Fresh herbs and spices (oregano, basil, peso, garlic, thyme)
– Gourmet cheeses (mozzarella, cheddar, smoked Gouda, provolone)


THE CRUST

For me, the perfect pizza hinges on the crust. I like mine a little crisp on the bottom, with a bit of chew to it, and of course it’s got to be nice and thick! In order to achieve this I chose to bake it in a deep dish, cast iron skillet— the dough being about half an inch thick after I’ve rolled it out. If you prefer thin crust, simply roll it extra thin, and bake on a cookie sheet or pizza stone! The dough will know what to do.

Combine the first six ingredients in your mixer, or sift them together by hand. Don’t skimp on the wheat gluten, it’s vital to achieving a fluffy, chewable texture when using whole wheat. If you’d prefer a white crust, just make sure you use bread flour, and you can skip the wheat gluten. Once sifted, you can add the last two ingredients and mix well, kneading until you have a smooth ball. If it’s a little too sticky to work with, add a few tablespoons of flour, and keep kneading. Now, divide the dough ball into 4 smaller balls. Roll out each ball into the shape you want your pizza, and let it rise at least 20 minutes at room temperature before baking. If it starts to dry out, you can lightly brush it with olive oil.


THE SAUCE

Sauce is the second most important element of a great pizza. I’ve been told that my sauce tastes like a legitimate, gourmet pizzeria sauce. I hope you think so too. It’s really quite simple to make, and if there is any left over… well, hello spaghetti night!

Combine all ingredients and simmer on medium heat until the sauce thickens — about 20 minutes. You’ll want to watch for the bubbling, spattering lava coming out of that pot while you stir. I resorted to wrapping my hand in a towel while I stirred mine! Remove it from the heat and put in the refrigerator to cool a little (or make it the night before). Cooling is essential. If you put sauce on the crust while it’s still hot, it could kill the yeast in the dough.


TOPPINGS

Oh the toppings! This is the best, and coincidentally, the easiest part. Top it with whatever you want— go wild! My favorite pizza is what I call “Greek Pizza”, topped with Kalamata olives, feta, and roasted red peppers (and some yellow pickled peppers on the side).

After the dough is proofed, and topped
with the sauce and toppings, it’s time to
bake! I baked mine at 425° for about 25 minutes. You will have a longer baking time if your vegetables or other toppings have high water content.