Pizza is one of those things that always seems like a ton of work to make myself. My sister makes it all the time and seems to have it down to a science. Every week she and her husband have “pizza night” with their friends in San Clemente, their little surfer town in Southern Cal where everyone walks around barefoot and it never rains. So I am told. (I’ll be visiting her in just a few weeks, and then we’ll see if that’s the truth!) Anyway, I’ve always wished that I could just throw together some flour, yeast, and water, let it grow, and just toss whatever scraps I have left in the fridge on top. Voila! Pizza is made.
But is it really that easy? I wish! I have classically been bad at making my own pizza dough. Maybe I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of recipes out there for all the different tastes and types of crust- thick, thin, whole-wheat, partial-wheat, chewy, crusty, crispy, cheesy, gluten-free, gluten-full, etc. etc. etc. Yikes! Which one do I choose? They even make dough out of cauliflower these days.
Then, there’s the issue of what to do if one of the dough ingredients- water, flour, yeast- is just the teensiest bit “off.” If the yeast is old, the water too cold, you add too much (or too little) flour, not enough sugar, and the stars aren’t perfectly aligned, your pizza may be ruined. I’ve made the mistake before of keeping my yeast in an opened jar in the fridge for way too long before using it again. The result was a chewy, taffy-like pizza crust that did NOT rise and did NOT stretch when I tried to pull it apart. Definitely not blog worthy (although it may have ended up on here anyway :P).
But this time, I think I finally got it right. I used a recipe from Iowa Girl Eats and adapted it a little bit to make it partially whole-wheat. I also doubled the recipe so I could save half of the batch and make another pie later in the week.
The rest went like clock-work. I LOVE the fact that for pizza, the hardest part is the dough and you can literally throw on top anything you have on hand. You can also get creative with the sauce! In the past, I’ve experimented a bit with some BBQ bases as opposed to the traditional tomato. Especially when you have BBQ flavored or Jerk-style chicken leftovers, a smoky BBQ sauce underneath a layer of meat and veggies makes for a perfect pairing. I’ve fiddled a bit with my sauce depending on which spices I have- bottled hickory BBQ sauce mixed with some ketchup, cumin, smoked paprika, brown sugar, and a pinch of chili powder makes for an awesome base! I wouldn’t suggest using a Mediterranean or herbed-style chicken with this, though. Instead, I’d recommend an Alfredo base, pesto, or traditional tomato sauce.
I ended up doing half shredded chicken that was left over from tacos (*guilty*) but was still perfectly good! There wasn’t quite enough meat though to cover the entire pie, so I topped the other with shredded up deli ham. When I think ham on pizza, I immediately jump to pineapple and black olives, so it quickly turned into a “Hawaiian BBQ” pizza. No complaints here! My husband loves the combo, and so do I. (Pineapple on top of pizza confused me for the longest time, but I finally gave up trying to figure it out. One does not question the ways of the pizza topping gods). Added some kale, broccoli, tomatoes, and shredded “fancy” mozzarella (don’t ask me what makes it “fancy” because all I saw was a plastic Harris Teeter resealable bag…) and stuck it in the kiln- er, oven.
Twelve-ish minutes later and we had a delicious pizza on our hands! The crust was soft but still crispy around the edges, and not tough on the bottom as has occasionally happened to me in the past!
Perfect for Friday “take-in” date night!
- DOUGH RECIPE (2 MEDIUM PIZZAS)
- 1 cup warm water (how hot? it was described to me as “hot-tub” temperature)
- 3 tsp (about 2 of the pre-packaged) dry active yeast
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 2 cups all-purpose white flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- (FOR ONE PIZZA)
- 1/2-3/4 cup BBQ sauce (your favorite kind!)
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
- 1 small can sliced black olives, drained
- 1 small can sliced pineapple, drained and cut into chunks
- 2/3 (or as much as you want) cup leftover shredded chicken (pork or turkey would also work!)
- ~ 6 slices deli ham, shredded into small pieces
- 1/2 cup fresh kale, chopped
- 3/4 cup broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced (or chopped whole tomatoes, but make sure to de-seed so they’re not making the crust too soggy!)
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- For the dough: In a measuring cup, combine water, yeast and honey and stir until dissolved and liquid has a “murky” appearance. Allow it to sit somewhere warm for about 10 minutes (I used a heating pad on low!) until it foams up.
- Add oil and stir again.
- Add entire mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the mixer or a regular wooden spoon, gradually add salt and flour and stir to combine.
- Once dough has somewhat come together, attach the dough hook and set mixer to “stir” setting for kneading.
- “Knead” until dough comes together- about 5-7 minutes. If too sticky or watery, add a BIT more flour and reassess your patient- er, dough! (too long of a day at PT school!)
- Lightly oil a bowl. Remove dough, form a nice ball out of it, and set it in the oiled bowl.
- Cover loosely with a dishcloth and allow to rise in a warm spot for at least an hour.
- When dough has doubled in size, punch it down a bit and separate into two smaller balls.
- Allow each ball to continue to rise for another 30 min to an hour.
- At this point, you can refrigerate/freeze the dough for later, or keep going with your recipe! (I kept one and put the other in the fridge).
- Preheat oven to 400 deg.
- Oil a pizza pan with cooking spray or olive oil. No skimping here!
- Spread dough out on pan into a circle, starting in the center and working your way out with your fingers!
- In a small bowl, combine BBQ sauce, ketchup, and spices. Whisk together thoroughly.
- Use the back of a spoon to spread the sauce over the top of the dough, leaving about a 1/2″ rim around the edges.
- Layer kale, meat, veggies, olives, and pineapple over the top. Sprinkle with the cheese.
- Bake at 400 deg for 10-15 minutes (watch this carefully, as the crust can burn easily depending on the thickness you’ve chosen!)
- Remove from oven, cool at least 5 min, and slice!
Just starting out with the yeast and water base… not foamy yet! Set on a heating pad to low to help kick start the process.
All foamed up after about 10 minutes!
After kneading for a few minutes…
…and the dough should look like this.
Let her rise (sorry, for some reason I don’t have a picture of the risen dough!) and then spread out onto a pizza pan with fingers.
Whip up some sauce!
Now for the fun part! Spread the sauce on to your liking.
Add the veggies first
Then the meat
Top with the cheese. Into the oven for a hot second…
Served here with some honey-balsamic broccoli slaw. It’s pizza night, ya’ll!