Homemade Pizza is the Ultimate Fast Food – Really!

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I have two teenage boys. In their perfect world, they would eat pizza every single day. Happily, I have perfected a method of making homemade pizza – with homemade dough – that eliminates the takeout boxes (and the takeout expense) without taking up too much time. Sorry, Domino’s!

By par “baking” a batch of pizza dough and then freezing the ready-to-assemble rounds, pizza is perfect for the last minute dinner emergencies that seem to happen with regularity around here. Kind of like Boboli pizza crust, but without the plastic packaging. This pizza dough recipe makes about a dozen individual sized pizza rounds (8-10″ diameter) when rolled out thinly. It takes about 15 minutes to mix the dough in my KitchenAid mixer and just under half an hour to prepare 12 rounds. My family will eat about 6 of those in one sitting, so I generally do a double** batch of dough – with that we can have pizza the same day I make the rounds, plus put enough dough in the freezer for three more pizza nights. For roughly an hour’s worth of work, I’m set for four different meals – all I have to do to pull it together is corral my boys in the kitchen to chop toppings.

People who have never made a yeast dough tend to freak out at the thought of doing so. Please do not be afraid of yeast dough. This is easy stuff. You mix it, you roll it, you bake it. Totally doable.

PIZZA DOUGH RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups warm water (120-130 degrees)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (purchased in bulk) OR 1 envelope
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 4 cups unbleached white flour (can substitute up to 2 cups with wheat or spelt flour if you like)

 

pizza dough, homemade pizza, Pizza dough ingredients

Make the dough:

In a mixer: Mix together all ingredients except the flour in the bowl of your mixer. Let sit for five minutes to let the yeast start to work. Add flour and mix, using the dough hook. The dough will come together to form a ball and pull away from the side of the bowl; it might be a touch sticky, but that’s okay.

By hand: Mix all of the ingredients except the flour in a large bowl. Let sit for five minutes to let the yeast start to work. Add flour and mix, using a heavy wooden spoon. When the dough starts to get too stiff to stir with the spoon, put the dough on a floured flat surface and use your hands to work the dough into a nice ball. Add a sprinkling of flour if the dough gets terribly sticky.

Set the dough aside to rise for a bit or start rolling it into individual rounds right away. This is a pretty variable step. If you can’t roll it right away, the dough can sit for hours. Just cover it with a clean towel and it will be fine. If you’d rather do it right away, that works, too. Do what’s easiest for you!

Roll the dough:

pizza dough, homemade pizza, Pizza dough ingredients

Sprinkle flour on a smooth rolling surface (see my fancy pants marble-like rolling surface? I got that for free at a tile shop. They were going to throw it away.) Pull off a piece of dough larger than the size of a golf ball, but smaller than the size of a tennis ball. Use a rolling pin or a dowel and roll the dough out on your floured surface to create a nice thin round. Turn the dough over frequently as you roll, adding more flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Add about a tablespoon of flour to your surface for each new ball of dough.

When rolled thinly, this makes an individual sized round, roughly 8-10″ in diameter. If you like your pizza to have a thicker crust, just start with a larger ball of dough.

Par “bake” the dough (this is the secret to making it FAST):

When the dough is rolled to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to hot griddle or frying pan (dry, no oil). My electric griddle is on the fritz, so I used a tortilla warmer. It worked fine. Cook for a minute or two, until bubbles start to form on the surface. Flip (I use my hands) and cook the second side for another minute or two. Cool on a wire rack.

At this point, you can either proceed with making pizza or stack the precooked dough rounds and freeze for later.

Make the pizza:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven as it heats. You want them nice and hot, so you’ll get a crispy crust. Top the precooked pizza dough with pizza sauce (perhaps homemade from your garden?), cheese, and toppings, then slide it onto the hot pizza stone. If you’re not using a stone, just make your pizza(s) on a cookie sheet and put them in the hot oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

**To make a double batch, measure the ingredients for a single batch except for the flour into your mixing bowl. At the same time, measure the same ingredients into another bowl. (A mixer won’t accommodate a double batch all at once. Probably, your arm and a wooden spoon won’t either.) Add the flour to the mixing bowl and mix as directed above. Once the dough is complete, transfer it to an oiled bowl. Pour the extra bowl of measured ingredients into the mixing bowl (and goodness, don’t worry about washing the mixing bowl!) and add flour. Mix as directed above.

 

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  • Kate ,

    My two guys are big pizza lovers, too, and we’ve made homemade pizza forever — absolutely, positively the best way to go.

    Question for you — I adore my pizza stone. The problem is, even with the pizza peel, when I slide the pizza onto the stone, all the toppings go flinging to parts unknown (leaving a partially nekkid pizza). Any tips on technique? I know this is outside the scope of your post, but it’s been bugging me for a while.

    I’m also going to give your recipe a try — always in search of that perfect pizza crust!

    • Kris Bordessa ,

      Kate, we had this problem, too. I know pizza traditionalists will scoff, but par baking the dough makes it WAY more manageable. It’s just cooked enough that it’s super easy to transfer from the peel to the stone, with all of the toppings intact. And the pizza is still plenty crispy on the bottom as long as we use the stone on the bottom rack closest to the heat.

      • another thing that’d help with this, if you do not already do it this way, is putting toppings on first, then the cheese. learned this years ago from a chef and we’ve made our home made pizza that way ever since.

        • jon doe ,

          I have always understood that Italian pizza has the sauce/cheese/topping in that order… one topping only

          Greek pizza has the sauce/toppings/cheese in that order and lots of toppings on one pizza.

          When a school class went to Italy, they were discouraged when the waiter told them Pizza is crust and sauce, and a deluxe has cheese…. In the part of Italy they were in, NO ONE puts anything else on top.

          I could NEVER live there! I like my pizza deep and meat/cheese filled to over flowing.

    • Mark Phillips ,

      This is where cornmeal comes in in traditional pizza shops. The peel gets coated with a layer of cornmeal and flour. This allows the dough to slide off with little effort. The cornmeal also creates little pockets for air and gets the bottom more crispy. I’ve worked in a few pizza shops and this was always the way they did it.

  • Might have to try this. Thanks for the idea.

  • home made pizza is great. hope your post will get those who are still thinking about it to give it a try — another benefit is all the creative (and healthy) toppings you can try out.

  • Jane ,

    We love homemade pizza at our house, though I admit, I haven’t made it in some time. I love your freezing idea. I’m thinking of making a batch or two of crusts and freezing them for the kids to pull out when they are in need of something to eat between meals (which seems to be constantly!)

  • Jane ,

    Oh, I had a question regarding freezing. When freezing the crusts, would you suggest putting waxed paper in between them to prevent them from sticking together? I want the kids to be able to pull them out individually to use for snacking.

    • Kris Bordessa ,

      I don’t. I make sure they’re cooled off before I freeze them, but they kind of just pop apart. The par baking makes the whole pizza process so much easier!

  • sarah henry ,

    I have yet to make a good pizza crust that I would happily serve to family and friends. Can never get the bottom crispy enough for my liking. Tips?

    • Kris Bordessa ,

      Sarah, that’s rich – someone with your kitchen expertise asking me for tips! ;) I typically use two pizza stones at a time. The bottom stone always turns out a crispier crust than the upper one. If I really wanted to be assured of crisp crusts on both pizzas, I’d switch them out, or only use the bottom stone. My teenagers, though, are more interested in getting to the pizza in a time sensitive manner than a perfectly crisped crust!

    • jon doe ,

      I use a cast iron pizza pan on the bottom rack… preheat the oven with the pan in it, and guaranteed, the bottom will be crispy….

      you might have to raise it to the middle.

  • Totally do-able! I love all of your photos, too. We do love our pizza around here.

  • Jason W. ,

    What kind of container(s) do you put the parbaked crusts in when you store them in the freezer?

    • Kris Bordessa ,

      Ah, the million dollar question! I’m working to eliminate plastic as much as possible, but for the moment, I reuse plastic grocery bags (that still seem to work their way into my home, even though I re-use my own bags at the store!). I’ve tried wrapping dough (not par baked) in waxed paper, and it worked pretty well. Wax paper might be a solution for the par baked crusts, too. We certainly go through them fast enough that freezer burn wouldn’t be an issue. I’ve also wondered about making my rounds smaller so I could stack them in my glass storage container. Kind of like this one: http://amzn.to/fKIZfw Let us know what you come up with!

      • jon doe ,

        smaller?

        10 inches was an individual size when I was about 5yo… now? I need a 15″ Hahahahaa…. I LOVE pizza

  • April ,

    GENIUS. Absolute genius. We have homemade pizza night every Friday night (along with the grape juice I canned instead of soda), and I make the dough. My kids love rolling out their dough, doing their toppings, etc. (I have 5 kids 4 and under), and I love watching them experiment with their creations. They are so proud. We started doing calzones so we could bake all of them at once on our stone. There are times when I would love to have an easy button like this. Love it, love it. I’m doing this with the leftover dough I have instead of just freezing the dough. I’m going to have to think about what I want to freeze them in.

    As for sliding your pizza off the peel, having enough flour or cornmeal under your dough is CRITICAL. Any moisture at all and it will stick. Also, the longer it sits on the peel, the harder to get it off.

    Last thing, I make our dough with 100% whole wheat flour. I use hard white wheat that I grind myself. It has a much lighter flavor and texture than other varieties of wheat. And maybe my recipe has an impact, who knows. Everyone who tries it is surprised that it’s all whole wheat.

    I very rarely buy flour. I use whole wheat in just about everything, and I grind it myself, which is far more economical, healthful and sustainable. Things like zucchini bread or banana bread, you would never, ever know. Some things I do half and half like biscuits.

    • Kris Bordessa ,

      Interesting, about the freshly ground wheat. I’d expect it to be really strong and grainy! I use spelt a lot, but I don’t grind my own. Yet.

      • April ,

        Kris, I also use a lot of spelt, and occasionally kamut (I used to use it a lot for pizza dough, actually). I have a killer bread recipe with spelt, if you are interested. Grinding your own is so much more economical than buying those little bags of spelt flour. The grinder pays for itself quickly. The spelt actually has a stronger flavor than the hard white wheat, but spelt does make a silkier flour. I use spelt for things that are already flavorful like zucchini or banana breads, but for something like pizza crust or tortillas, I stick to the white wheat. I also really love the sweetness of spelt for my wheat thins cracker recipe. It also makes a wonderful pasta. We had no wheat for 3 years and baked with spelt and kamut exclusively. That’s actually why I learned to bake, bc it was that or not have bread products.

        If you do end up grinding your own, this is an important thing to know: freshly ground flour is much airier than packaged. Meaning, when measuring by volume, you need to increase your flour measurement by about 25% with freshly ground flours. By weight they will be the same, but by volume, the packaged flours are packed down, where your milled stuff is sifted. Your breads and cakes will have a big sink hole in the middle if you don’t up your flour. I spent months trying to figure out what my problem was, and since I was using spelt, I was even more confused since it was different water absorption properties.

    • jon doe ,

      truly “Whole Wheat”

      I too have a grinder, but have yet to start using it.

      but I have tasted true whole wheat bread and it is far better than the “Reconstituted” whole flour you buy

  • April ,

    Question, do you have to thaw the crusts first? Or just do them frozen?

    • Kris Bordessa ,

      They thaw pretty quickly. I take them out of the freezer and set them on a plate (individually) and have my kids start topping them. By the time they’re done, they’re partially thawed; we toss them in the oven at that stage.

  • Allen Kennedy ,

    Great recipe, except I don’t have a stand mixer… how do I make the dough without it? I’m sure it’s possible… people have been making dough for thousands of years without a stand mixer. But it’s impossible to find instructions with out one.

    • Kris Bordessa ,

      Allen, no worries. You just need a sturdy wooden spoon and some brawn. Stir the ingredients until you can’t stir them anymore, then get your hands in there and push/pull/knead the dough until in all comes together. For this method, you’ll need to dust a surface with flour and add a bit more flour each time the dough gets too sticky to work.

  • This looks really useful and doable. Definitely going to give this one a try!

  • Megan ,

    Thank you for sharing your idea for individual par baked pizza crust! I made the dough this morning substituting white whole wheat flour and left it to rise all day. My 3 year old loved helping my roll out the crust! My family of four enjoyed creating their own pizzas with many topping choices. The crust turns out nice and crunchy…loved it! Freezing the crust is a novel idea for me and very helpful to have “go to meals” in the freezer. This will be a staple in our recipe box from now on!

  • Sandy ,

    I make my pizza in the breadmaker, dough only. Add spices and Parmesan cheese in it! Never tried making individual crust, but this sounds good! have to try!

    • Kris Bordessa ,

      I can’t believe I didn’t mention that. I used to do that years ago, before I hand a stand mixer. Thanks!

  • jonathan ,

    My family loves it when i make pizza, because i roll the crust as thin as possible. a lot of  my family are worried about the calories and that takes about half of them away. also the cracker crust gives the pizza texture that’s amazing.

  • Tracie ,

    My grandchildren love pizza. I use flour tortillas to make mine and I also put broccoli, onions and peppers on them. The tortillas are better for them than traditional crusts.

  • We were just talking about that yesterday. We made homemade pizza : Whole wheat flour, hint of organic maple syrup instead of sugar, organic olive oil and fresh veggies and vegan spinach/basil pesto made with stuff from our own garden. Aged cheddar… and we were thinking, this is pretty healthy! I love making pizza with the kiddos cause they will eat every scrap of it no matter what is on it. 

  • Pete ,

    I make pizza almost every Friday night, sometimes wheat crust and sometimes not. I have found that adding the salt to the water/sugar/yeast mixture tends to somewhat counteract the yeasts ability to rise. I have found adding it to the flour mixture makes for a more fluffy crust. I also ONLY make pizza on our 4-burner gas grille. I set the stone in place and turn all burners to low and in about 15 minutes its at 600+ degrees, way hotter than any indoor oven. This makes it close to a pizza oven as far as temperature and they only take about 5 minutes. Also be careful about using too much flour on your peel, if there’s too much on the bottom of the dough it tends to burn and be bitter. It’s a fine line between too much and getting stuck. A metal peel works best as it’s thin and doesn’t have to be “tipped” whatsoever to transfer the pizza.

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