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The other day I got the most random craving: homemade pizza.

I LOVE to cook and am able to successfully cook a few things; however, until that day I had never gotten the desire to try and make a pizza completely from scratch. Like many people I mentioned my DIY project to, I was afraid of the idea of making dough. No matter what, I just knew it was going to be a disaster and honestly I didn’t know where to start. But thanks to my fellow life stylist, Gina, who heard my cries and sent me an easy pizza dough recipe she found on-line, I now had a foundation for my recipe.

Over the weekend I went ahead and tried my hand at pizza from scratch and this is the story of what happened!

Three cheese pizza with chicken sausage, caramelized onions & spinach

The dough

*recipe derived from LaurensLatest.com*

What you’ll need:

1 1/2 cup bread flour

1 1/8 tspn dry yeast

1/2 tbpn sugar (or honey, I’ve heard)

1/2 cup warm water

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tspn salt

How to:

Combine the 1/2 cup of warm water, yeast and sugar in a mixing boil. Let this sit for around 5-7 minutes or until the yeast begins to “bubble”. Don’t be alarmed by the bubbles, that just means the yeast is active; which is necessary. Once the yeast mixture bubbles and becomes frothy add in the salt, olive oil and half of the flour; then turn the mixer on. Once the mixture begins to come together, slowly add in the rest of the flour. The dough should gradually thicken and take on the “dough” consistency. Once that has happened, turn the mixer on high and let the mixer knead the dough for around 6 minutes. At this point, the dough should be in one piece, tacky but not wet, and the bowl should be clean. If you can check off those 3 requirements, yippeeee you did it right! If not, you can always start over or visit your neighborhood grocer for a store made crust :0)

The dough will now need time to “rise”, so transfer it to a bowl and cover it for 1 1/2 to 2 hours before using.

The dough needing time to rise offers the perfect opportunity to make the sauce and prep your toppings.

I HATE jar pasta sauce so I’ve been making my own pasta/tomato sauce for a few years. I modified my usual technique to make it pizza suitable.

The Sauce

What you need:

1/2 green pepper

1 large shallot (can sub in a yellow onion here)

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 can diced tomatoes (you can also use fresh tomatoes)

1 can tomato sauce

1/2 can tomato paste

salt

pepper

Italian seasoning

red pepper flakes

pinch of sugar

How to:

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a deep pot. While the oil heats up, dice the shallot and green pepper. Once the pot is ready, add the shallot, green pepper and garlic to the olive oil. Sautee until the shallots are translucent. Add in the can of tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Stir all ingredients together. Season with the salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. At this point I also add in the pinch of sugar as well as a little cream to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. The cream isn’t a must but it’s the way I like it. Bring the sauce to a boil and then lower it to a simmer. Let the sauce cook down for 30-45 minutes.

Once the ingredients have broken down and melded together and the sauce has thickened, transfer the sauce to a food processor. This step is only necessary if you don’t prefer a really chunky pizza sauce. Pulse the sauce in the food processor until the desired consistency is achieved. Put aside until you’re ready to use it.

The toppings

Now it’s time to work on the toppings. I decided on a fresh Italian chicken sausage, caramelized onions, fresh spinach and 3 cheeses(mozzarella, feta & fresh parmesan).

Caramelized onion

What you’ll need:

1 large yellow onion

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp nutter

pinch of salt

pinch of sugar

How to:

Chop the onion into generously sized pieces(the onion will cook down a lot here so you don’t want to make them too small). Put the olive oil and butter into a saute pan and allow the butter to melt down. Once the butter has melted, add your onions to the pan. At this point, make sure the heat is turned down low; caramelizing onions without burning them is all about cooking them slowly. Add your pinch of salt to the pan. After about 10 minutes or so, add the pinch of sugar. Let the onion cook for about 40 minutes or until the caramel effect has taken place, being sure to stir the onions every few minutes to avoid sticking. You’ll know when the onions are done; they will be caramel in color and quite shrunken.

On to the sausage. The trick to cooking fresh sausage is this: boil the sausage(s) in an inch of water for 7-10 minutes before you saute them. Be sure to slit the sausage casing before you place them in the water. I suggest this because 1. you don’t want the casing in the final product, 2. having the casing on in the beginning keeps the sausage from crumbling in the water. Boiling the sausage before sauteing will ensure that the sausage is cooked all the way through and that you won’t blacken them trying to get cook them all the way in a pan.

So now the pizza sauce has been made, the dough has risen and your toppings have all been prepped. Finally it’s time to assemble your pizza.

I like my pizza cheesy. So after spreading my pizza dough out to fit the tray(will be about 12″ in diameter), I first sprinkle the dough with a layer of parmesan before putting down the sauce. Once the sauce is down, add however much or little toppings you want. Now it’s time to get cooking!

If you don’t have a pizza stone, which I don’t, put a cookie sheet upside down on the oven rack and turn the oven up to 500 degrees. This will help give the crust a nice crunch on the bottom. Pop that pizza in the oven and let it cook for 10 minutes or until the cheese begins to bubble and voilà!

Since making pizza completely from scratch can be a bit timely and laborious(I’d say it takes about 2 hours from beginning to end); this project makes for a great rainy day activity OR a fun date idea. Nothing like spending a little time in the kitchen with your hunny!

The end result looked great and tasted even better!

If you try this recipe or any of our other ones, we’d love to hear about it!

~ Dyanna

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