Ever hear your kids ask can we have pizzas? Ever tell them, it is simple, it is a phone call away, as in the pizza delivery man! In truth, you can magically make your pizzas effortlessly grilling one on a pizza stone or baking a pizza on a sheet pan in an oven! Whether grilling or baking, your kitchen or backyard is transformed into a smokey, aromatic scene much akin to the traditional ways of Italian cooking. Classical pizza crust can be found as far back as seven thousand years ago on the Island just to the left of Italy’s boot called Sardinia and history is chalked full of Roman examples of its uses. Pizza never became mainstream until the 1800s were the town of Naples began infusing tomatoes with the whipped up dough.
Pizza, as we know it, was cooked in stone floored ovens fueled by wood or coal. So whether you are grilling the pizza on the stone or baking one in a convection oven, you are still quickly getting back to the roots of the delicious meal. It has always been a pleasant way to enjoy a lazy evening for my family. Whipping up some dough, adding fresh topping and presto.. you have a pizza party in a matter of minutes! As my children grew up, I pulled them in. They began helping me with this pizza baking experience not only at home by in the restaurant as well! We turned it into a group activity as we all know. Pizzas are personal! Everyone likes theirs a little bit different! That is just fine with us as we keep our pizzas just a tiny bit different as well.
Now, I love my pizzas how my grandmother cooked them, with flavor and herbs! The secret to making an excellent pizza is crafting it with great dough, the freshest ingredients, and of course passion! My personal favorite is freshly sliced Italian sausage, seasoned beef, and thick slabs of pepperoni! Then layered with mozzarella and romano cheeses before picked up on the pizza peel and placed on your pizza stone or cooking sheet. My wife loves a vegetarian style pizza with black olives, green bell peppers, fresh basil, sliced Roma tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella! The kids have their toppings such as sliced jalapenos, alfredo sauce, or goat cheese.
Now, I will help you make your very own go-to pizza dough so that you and your family can start creating your lazy afternoon memories just like my family and me. Be warned; this crust is more of a New York Style for large slices that can easily be folded in half and devoured! It is highly addictive and a little place of heaven for your taste buds. As it was handed down from my from my grandmother, I pass this simple recipe down to you. We use this as the basis of our garlic rolls, pizza dough, sandwich bread, calzones, and stromboli.
At the restaurant, we bake our New York Style pizzas, pan pizzas, rolls, calzones, stromboli and sandwich bread in old-school stone ovens. We use our pizza screens and cooking sheets efficiently as you will in this recipe. Though I warn you, after thirty-five years of handcrafting delicious meals, I learned a thing or two so yours may not taste exactly like ours when you dine in with us
Here are the supplies you will need to bake or grill the pizza dough:
A standard convection oven – A small countertop oven. Be sure to by the pan or cooking sheet which best fits your oven!
A pizza screen or crisper – Aluminum screen or crisper or even a large enough cooking sheet to place the pizza on. Do not put the pizza directly on the metal grill of your oven as even the professionals use these screens for a reason!
A pizza peel – moveable with a slick surface that could slide the pizza into place on or taking off the heated pizza stone or crisper!
Pizza Dough Recipe
1 hour 40 minutes to 2 hours when working with unrisen dough
1 ½ cup of warm water (not hot)
1 tsp of sugar ( or sweetener of your choice)
2 1/4 tsp of active dry yeat
3 ½ cups of all purpose flour
½ tsp of basil
½ tsp of oregano
1 ½ tsp of salt
1 ½ tsp of white pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus more for greasing bowl
Sauce (4-6 tbsp) and topping of your choice
To make Pizza Dough
- Combine warm water and yeast in a small bowl. Gently stir the yeast in and let sit for about five minutes to 10 minutes. Doing this activates the yeast so it should look foamy! If not, then you need some more yeast as it has expired… so off to the store you go!
- Next combine the water mixture to the flour in a large bowl before adding the salt, pepper, sugar, and oil by mixing it. Mix ½ tsp s of salt, white pepper, basil, and oregano in a dry container for later use.
- Lightly flour a cutting board or flat and clean surface. Pour the pizza dough onto the surface and then knead it into a large ball. When done, the flour should feel smooth and a bit sticky.
- Now wash out your large bowl and dry it before greasing it with olive oil. Then place the dough into the greased mixing bowl and roll it as you coat the dough with the oil as well
- Next, cover the bowl with a warm wet towel and place it in a warm area for about an hour so the dough can rise
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees or grill when the mixture has started to double in size. Starting the heating now saves time and prevents the toppings from sitting on undercooked dough for too long which means it will be soggy and not crisp when you pick it up and fold it! Now we place the ball on a floured surface. Using the rolling pin, we start in the middle and roll toward the edges. As you roll back, turn it a quarter so that you cover the entire piece with back and forth actions. Make sure to add more dough if you feel it sticking to the roller.
- Place the crust on a floured moveable cutting board or the large spatula called a pizza peel. Remember, the well-floured surface prevents the pizza from sticking when you move it!
- Now brush the surface of the dough with your olive oil.
- Next, spread between 4 and 6 tsp of sauce over the oil spot. Nice and thick pizza sauce does not make the pizza limp as watery sauces do! Then, sprinkle the herb and salt mixture lightly over the pizza sauce. It is okay if you mess up as it takes practice to make perfect pizzas! Finally, add the pizza topping!
- Last but not least, add your cheese to pie and then prepare to move the pizza. Make sure items are out of the way to the grill or oven. Baking in a convection oven or grilling it on a pizza stone will ensure evenly cooked and crispy dough.
- A little secret of mine is not moving the pizza to a stone or cooking sheet will take a bit of practice. In the restaurant, we make the pizzas in pan (for pan pizzas) or on the screen for New York Style pizza. If you are using a stone, then you use spatulas to help guide the pizza into place.
- Now you merely grill or bake until golden brown all the way around the crust.
- Once your pizza is done, use the spatula the pizza peel to remove it and then slice it to enjoy!