Pizza Party Time!
Yesterday was my husband‘s birthday so we decided to have a homemade pizza party! OK, so it was just the two of us, but trust me it was a real party! We called it a party and did all the things that we usually do during a pizza party but with a lot less stress since it was the only the two of us.
Homemade Pizza is one of the most festive things you can make. Probably because it’s out of the ordinary from what you normally make on a daily basis. For some reason pizza just makes people happy. Our daughter, for example, celebrates Friday night by getting pizza for the family. And how many times have you said to family members or friends “hey let’s go out for a pizza!” So that’s just the happiness factor about pizza and so why not add it as one of your lockdown activities?
How to prep your wood-burning oven for homemade pizza:
We have a wood-burning pizza oven so it’s an event in and of itself just to get the oven hot enough to make pizza. We start off by burning twigs and small branches and then gradually add in more wood. You don’t want to get a roaring fire going right away because it can crack the roof of your pizza oven; it has to be done gradually. Then once you have a roaring fire going you need to burn the wood long enough so that the flames dissipate, and the wood is still red hot, with a few gentle flames.
Next you push the wood to one side of the pizza oven and sweep anything remaining off to that side. We then use a broomstick wrapped with a damp cloth to wipe off the clean side of the pizza oven.
And then you are ready to make your pizza!
How to make homemade pizza in a conventional oven, or a gas grill:
Now what if you don’t have a wood-burning pizza oven? Well, you can still make pizza! A wood-burning pizza oven can cook a pizza in a couple of minutes because it reaches a temperature of 400°C to 500°C, which is unobtainable in your classic oven. But don’t despair because you can set your oven to its highest temperature and just cook your pizza for a longer time. We love Roman style pizza which calls for a very thin and crispy crust and that kind of pizza will cook quite quickly in the home oven – 15 minutes should do it. A pizza spatula comes in handy when making pizza!
Another option is to use your gas grill. We have a Weber gas grill which gets up to a very high temperature and it works great for pizza making. You can place your pizza on a pizza stone, or just use a baking sheet.
Check out these videos on baking homemade pizza in a wood-burning oven:
I have a standard recipe for my pizza sauce but you can vary mine to suit your taste. Here’s my sauce recipe.
1 8 ounce can of peeled tomatoes
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
Simmer the olive oil and garlic together for one minute in a sauce pan. Add the tomatoes and cook on medium until the olive oil begins to come to the surface, about 15 minutes.
Add the dried oregano and salt and cook for several more minutes.
Use an immersion blender to purée the sauce.
Set aside to cool.
- 8 ounce can of peeled tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
Simmer the olive oil and garlic together for one minute in a sauce pan.
Add the tomatoes and cook on medium until the olive oil begins to come to the surface, about 15 minutes.
- Add the dried oregano and salt and cook for several more minutes.
- Use an immersion blender to purée the sauce.
- Set aside to cool.
For 10 to 14 small pizzas.
1 kg all purpose or “00” flour
One cube of fresh yeast
300 mL + 200 mL of water
1/2 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
You can mix the dough in a food processor or by hand. If you mix the dough by hand it works best if you do it in an extra-large mixing bowl.
To mix the dough in a food processor:
Stir 300 mL of water and the yeast together. The water should be just tepid – no hotter, no cooler.
Once the yeast is fully dissolved stir in the honey.
Place the flour and salt in a large food processor bowl.
Gradually pulse the water and yeast mixture into the flour.
Once it’s fully incorporated drizzle in additional water until the dough forms a ball.
Pulse in the olive oil.
Remove the dough from the food processor and knead for a minute or two.
Place in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth.
If your kitchen is reasonably warm the dough will rise easily on the kitchen counter. If your kitchen is cool, place the dough in your oven with the oven light on.
Let the dough rise until it has doubled in bulk, about an hour.
Shape the dough into small uniform balls. Each one should weigh roughly 85 g.
Put the dough balls on a baking sheet and cover with a damp cloth.
Let rise for 20 minutes.
- 1 kg all purpose or “00” flour
- 1 cube fresh yeast
- 300 mL + 200 mL of water
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- To mix the dough in a food processor:
- Stir 300 mL of water and the yeast together. The water should be just tepid – no hotter, no cooler.
- Once the yeast is fully dissolved stir in the honey.
- Place the flour and salt in a large food processor bowl.
- Gradually pulse the water and yeast mixture into the flour.
- Once it’s fully incorporated drizzle in additional water until the dough forms a ball.
- Pulse in the olive oil.
- Remove the dough from the food processor and knead for a minute or two.
- Place in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth.
- If your kitchen is reasonably warm the dough will rise easily on the kitchen counter. If your kitchen is cool, place the dough in your oven with the oven light on.
- Let the dough rise until it has doubled in bulk, about an hour.
- Shape the dough into small uniform balls. Each one should weigh roughly 85 g.
- Put the dough balls on a baking sheet and cover with a damp cloth.
- Let rise for 20 minutes.
To assemble and bake each pizza:
Set your oven to the highest temperature possible.
Gather up your ingredients depending on what you like on your pizza.
Use a dry mozzarella cheese, rather than a milky buffalo mozzarella that will add too much moisture to your pizza dough.
I used to prepare all my topping ingredients in advance – I grated the cheese, sliced the vegetables, etc. I found that we ended up with too many leftover ingredients so now I slice and chop ingredients as I make each pizza.
Place everything you will need on the side of your work surface: olive oil for drizzling, the pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, a small cutting board and sharp knife, a mandolin slicer and all the ingredients for toppings that you want to use. Ingredients depend completely on your taste, but here are some of the topping ingredients I commonly use:
- Fresh vegetables – zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini flowers, arugula.
- Jarred items – artichoke hearts, anchovies, tunafish.
- Deli items – prosciutto, pancetta, spicy salami.
- Herbs – fresh rosemary, thyme, marjoram.
- Other cheeses – blue cheese, Gorgonzola, cheddar.
- Meats & seafood – Sausage, chicken, clams, mussels.
Make just one pizza per time and keep the other dough-balls covered as you roll out each pizza.
Lightly flour your work-surface and roll out the dough into a thin and uniform round.
Place on a pizza stone or baking sheet.
Don’t overload your pizza with sauce and ingredients. Stick to the tried and true adage that “less is more”!
Ladle 1/4 cup tomato sauce onto your pizza.
Use the back of the ladle to spread the sauce around, but make sure you don’t get the sauce all the way up to the edge: leave about a half inch to an inch on the border.
Grab a piece of mozzarella cheese and crumble it on top of the pizza. Next sparingly add your toppings.
Finally, drizzle the pizza with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and put in the oven.
Cook the pizza for about 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Remove from the oven and eat it immediately while it’s hot and delicious! Just as soon as you put a pizza in the oven start preparing your next pizza.
We often make more pizzas than we plan to eat so that we can freeze them for later. Make sure that you cool pizzas thoroughly before freezing.
Happy pizza time!
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