Homemade pizza is like homemade soup – it’s so much better tasting than store-bought. Plus, you can make the crust as thin and crispy or soft and chewy as you like.
The only problem for most of us is time. Luckily, active dry yeast, modern ovens, and heavy-duty mixers help the process along.
The mixer makes short work of blending and kneading the dough. You can still make this recipe without a mixer, but it will take more effort on your part.
Working with yeast can be intimidating, so let this step-by-step tutorial allay your fears. You’ll be making some terrific dough.
This recipe and tutorial comes from my husband. Our kids loved their dad’s homemade pizza when they were growing up. They still do.
The only treat they loved more was his homemade soft pretzels. (We’ll have to convince him to share that recipe and how-to sometime in the future.)
Sharing the cooking as a family is valuable, as our kids discovered when they headed off to college. So many of their classmates had no clue how to prepare meals.
If you can get your family involved in the pizza making, your kids will also be ahead of the curve.
Making homemade dough also yields some great science lessons (states of matter, chemical and physical changes, organic versus inorganic, heat transfer, to name a few).
A step-by-step guide for beginners
- 1 T active dry yeast
- 1 C. water
- 2 T. sugar (divided)
- 3-4 C. all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2-3 tsp olive oil (divided)
- 1/3 C. wheat bran (optional)
- 8 oz. tomato sauce or prepared pizza sauce
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp crushed garlic (optional)
- 2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
- fresh tomatoes, onions, olives, spinach, peppers, etc. optional toppings
Run the water in your sink until it’s almost too hot to comfortably hold your hand under (about 90°F).
In a tall glass (10 oz.), add 1 c. of warm water. Add the yeast and 1 T. sugar. Stir just until the ingredients are wet.
Let the mixture set for 30-60 seconds allowing the yeast to begin feeding on the sugar.
Then, stir until the sugar and yeast is dissolved. The mixture will appear muddy.
Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes until a full “foam head” develops at the top of the glass.
Put salt, remaining 1 T. sugar, and 1 tsp. olive oil in the bottom of the mixing bowl.
Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl.
Add 1 c. flour and the wheat bran (optional).
Mix with the whisk attachment for about 1 minute, continuing to add flour about 1/4 c. at a time until the mixture has a pancake-batter consistency. This will happen at around ½ c. of added flour.
Taste the mixture and adjust the salt, sugar, and oil as desired. Change the mixer attachment to the dough hook.
Add another cup of flour and mix on low speed for another minute. Increase speed to medium for about 30 seconds, then turn to low again and add another ¼ c. flour. Repeat this mixing pattern until the dough just starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. (see video below)
Stop the mixer. Test the dough with your finger to see if the dough sticks to your finger. If it sticks, Add more flour and mix again. Stop adding flour and mixing the dough when the dough is no longer sticky, but is still soft. This shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. (see video below)
At this point, turn off the mixer and dust the dough with a couple more tablespoons of flour.
While the dough rests in the bowl, warm your oven very briefly to about 90°F (or, use the proof setting if your oven has one).
Turn off the oven, put your dough in the oven and let it rise for 40-45 minutes. The dough will double in size.
Flour your counter top. Turn out the dough and fold and knead it lightly by hand, about 1 minute, adding flour if the dough is too sticky.
Cut the dough in half for two crusts. You can freeze one half, if desired.
Grease your baking pan with olive oil. Start spreading the dough out in the pan shape, using your hands or a rolling pin.
As you spread the dough, continue sprinkling with flour and flipping it over to help it stretch.
When it is just about the correct size, transfer the dough to the oiled pan and finish the edges to form a rim.
Place the pan in the oven and let the dough rise again, about 20 minutes.
If using tomato sauce rather than prepared pizza sauce, mix the tomato sauce with the dried herbs and fresh garlic.
If using spinach, add it to a pan over low heat with some olive oil and salt. Cook until leaves begin to wilt, then turn off heat.
Slice or chop other desired toppings. If using fresh tomato, slice very thin.
Remove the dough pan from the oven and then preheat the oven to 450°F.
When heated, return the dough pan to the oven and bake the dough for about 5 minutes until set.
Remove the pan from the oven. Cover the crust with tomato sauce. Add desired toppings.
Next, cover the pizza with cheeses. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 10-14 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown.
Let the pizza cool for 5 minutes or so until it is easy to cut.
Serve and enjoy!
Makes 2 pizza crusts, about 4 servings each.