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There is a reason that Ellen DeGeneres ordered pizza during the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony. Who doesn’t love pizza, anywhere, anytime? No doubt you’d like to know the secrets to making a great tasting pizza. Welcome to Pizza 101. No dialing required.

Pizza 101

Classic Pizza Dough

  • 2 c hot tap water
  • 2 T sugar (Use 3 tablespoons for whole wheat dough.)
  • 2 T dry active yeast
  • 4-5 c flour, unbleached, all-purpose
  • 3 T olive oil, divided
  • 2 t sea salt
  • semolina

Preheat oven with pizza stone, if you have one, at 500F. If not, use any flat baking tray.

Mix the sugar into the water in a large bowl. Add yeast to sugar-water. Leave it to rise and bubble for 10 minutes.

Add 2 cups of flour to the yeast mixture and stir slowly, scooping down the sides of the bowl. Mix to slightly lumpy. Add an additional cup of flour, then 1/2 cup more, and 1/2 cup more, mixing it in with a wooden spoon. Then, use your hands to fold the dough and add small amounts of flour until it barely sticks to your hands.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt into the dough. Form into a ball in the bottom of your mixing bowl and cover the exposed top with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then plastic wrap or parchment. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and leave for 45 minutes to rise.

Pizza 101

Mediterranean Pizza Toppings 

  • tomato sauce (Mix a can of chopped tomatoes with an equal amount of tomato sauce, adding salt, pepper, a few minced garlic cloves and Italian seasoning.)
  • chopped chunky roasted vegetables: red pepper, red onion, mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, asparagus (Add a little olive oil, salt, pepper and herb seasoning before roasting.)
  • grated mozzarella (If including other cheeses, always use some mozzarella to make them melt.)

Pizza 101

Rolling out the dough

Put a handful—one-quarter— of the dough on a floured surface. Coat both sides of the flattened dough and your rolling-pin with a little flour. Roll and flip the dough several times, creating a thin crust of any shape. Place crust on a sheet of parchment paper sprinkled with a little semolina.

Put a little tomato sauce on the dough – about 3 heaping tablespoons. Sprinkle on a few grilled vegetables. Cover with a light dusting of cheese. Cook pizza at 500F for 5 – 8 minutes until crust begins to brown and cheese is bubbling. Remove from oven and let pizza set a few minutes before slicing. Makes 4 pizzas. Serves 8.

Pizza 101 Print Ready Recipe

Pizza 101

Final notes:

  • Pizza 101 is inspired by pizza maven, Melanie McCready and my foodie buddy, Liz Joffe. They have years of experience drawing people together over their perfect pizzas.
  • You can roll out and freeze dough and even freeze toppings (except for fresh tomato slices).
  • You can make pizza in advance, freeze it, then cook if frozen, if your oven is hot.
  • Freeze extra tomato sauce and grated cheese.
  • Are you curious about using metal bowls and utensils for pizza dough?
  • The Paupered Chef can tell you how to make your own pizza stone for just $3.
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