Starting off... I'm a real newb in the kitchen. My girlfriend will usually do most of the cooking, and I'll happily help to eat whatever delicious creation she makes. But, to me, pizza crosses a very distinctive, special line. It's an art form and a craft that I personally want to hone, and learn to make well myself. I want to embark on a pizza journey to discover the best home-made pizza.
Now, of course everyone knows that there are a multitude of options out there in styles of pizza, ingredients, sauces, toppings, etc. And I know that there are all sorts of pizza-making equipment to learn about, and to play with. And I can already foresee in this journey, I might be challenged to get a little creative and explore the pizza-universe...
BUT... since this is pretty much going to be one of my first ever home-made pizzas (and definitely the first documented one), I'm just going to keep it real simple.
Here's what I did:
- Generic All-Purpose Bleached Wheat Flour (4 cups)
- Sea Salt (2 tsp)
- Granulated Cane Sugar (1 tsp)
- Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast (1 tsp)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (2 Tbsp)
- Water (1.33 cups)
I've made pizza dough before in roughly these portions, but without the sugar or olive oil. Reading that the oil would make the crust bake to a prettier golden brown, I decided to add both the sugar and the oil this time around.
Also, I've read most people will combine these ingredients in a mixer, but I don't have one of those so... I just carefully mixed the ingredients by hand, and I added the oil and water last to make sure the rest of the dry ingredients are evenly distributed within the dough.
To mix by hand, I started off with 3.5 cups of flour only, and set aside the remaining 1/2 cup, when I initially combined all the ingredients. Then, as I started mixing the dough by hand, I gradually added the rest of the flour (about 1 Tbsp at a time), carefully kneading it into the rest of the dough. Doing this, I feel I am better able to control how moist or dry to make the dough.
Simple Pizza Sauce:
- 15 oz can Tomato Sauce
- 6 oz can Tomato Paste
- Oregano (1 Tbsp)
- Paprika (1 tsp)
- Minced Garlic (1.5 tsp)
- Olive Oil (0.5 tsp)
I pan-fried the garlic in the olive oil, and then mixed it in with the rest of the ingredients.
After letting the pizza dough sit for at least 1 hour, I split it into two pieces. One half was to be used for the current pizza and the other half to be saved for making another future pizza. I kneaded the dough, and then spread it out by hand onto the pizza pan. I've heard pizza stones or pizza steels are the way to go, but I don't have one yet, so I just used a regular aluminum perforated pizza pan. Also, I don't have a rolling pin, so I just rolled the dough out by hand trying to be careful to spread the dough evenly.
For toppings, I spooned on 3 big scoops (maybe about 5 Tbsp) of the pizza sauce. Then, I shredded into little chunks and added 5 oz of fresh mozzarella cheese. I also added pepperoni, mushroom, and anchovies. I pre-heated the oven to 500 degrees. After it was heated up, I baked the pizza for 15 minutes.
This pizza was just okay. The sauce and toppings tasted good, but the crust came out way too hard. Also, there definitely wasn't enough cheese. On top of that, what little cheese I had added dried up and hardened, so there was absolutely zero stringy cheese affect.
For my next pizza, two things that I will definitely try out are: (1) add more cheese, and maybe not shred it into such small pieces, and (2) bake the pizza for less time.
Reading through the other posts on Chowhound, I think that some of the other culprits could be:
- Not letting the pizza dough ferment overnight in the fridge
- Kneading the dough too much
- Dough being too dry
So I will also have to try baking another pizza with the second half of my same dough, after letting that sit in the fridge for longer. Also, since I might have squeezed out too much of the air in the dough when kneading the dough or rolling it out, I'll need to try hand-tossing the pizza dough more to spread it out and keep the air pockets more intact. As for my next dough recipe, I think I'll experiment with reducing the flour-to-water ratio, next time. I might also try adding a little more oil. Once I get my crust texture dialed in, I'll start playing with the ingredients more...
Any other suggestions?