When I was a kid, my mom would cook me a dinner of my choice on my birthday, and it was always a tough choice for me between tacos and pizza. Her crust (for which she got the recipe from my aunt) was unbeatable. She would make the pizza on a rectangular baking sheet (until I was a teenager and she got a pizza stone) and I would love to snag a corner piece. While I, of course, loved Casey’s taco pizza and our local Godfathers (which, on a side note, I always assumed was a local restaurant as I never saw one in another town in Iowa, but recently found one tucked in the back of a Hess gas station in the town next to New Paltz. I tried their pizza, and it is the same as the Godfathers in Mason City! Apparently it’s a national chain. How crazy!), I have always preferred the homemade variety, and my love of my mom’s crust has made the crust the basis on which I judge all pizza.
I have now made pizza countless times over the years, and I have adapted the crust to match my tastes even more. Rather than straight up all purpose flour crust of my childhood, I now use a mixture of all purpose and whole wheat flour. While my mom’s crust was always midwestern-thick, I prefer to roll it out thinner and pre-bake it on a cooling rack so that it gets really crispy.
I have always preferred Contadina’s pizza sauce, and while I suppose my next venture will be to find a recipe for homemade pizza sauce, I will go to as many stores as is necessary to get my hands on that brand.
Using a thin, wheat crust and being generous with the veggies on top makes for a pizza that I don’t worry about eating.
The reason I’ve never posted a recipe for my homemade pizza is that pizza crust isn’t an exact science. You start out with a precise amount of warm water and yeast, but you add to that an approximate amount of oil, flour, herbs, and salt. I don’t measure. And in reality, the amount of warm water and yeast is very flexible. You just need your ingredients to come together in a nice, smooth ball. I measured this time to see what I had going on, but keep in mind that you may need to add more flour to get your dough to form a kneadable ball.
For the crust:
1.5 cups warm (but not hot) water
1 package active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
1 cup all purpose flour + more for kneading
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 large cloves of garlic, pressed
1 Tbsp olive oil + more to coat bowl
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
For the rest of the pizza:
Sauce, mozzarella cheese, and any toppings of your choice
Mix the hot water, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the remaining crust ingredients except for the cornmeal. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine, adding more flour as necessary to form a ball. Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth, about 5 minutes, adding more flour as necessary if the dough sticks to your surface.
Place dough in an oiled bowl, set it somewhere warm, and allow to rise until doubled, around an hour.
Preheat your oven to 450˚. Punch the dough down, and divide it into several balls to form crusts and/or breadsticks, depending on how large and thick you want your crusts. I always separate mine into three balls, making two pizzas and one batch of breadsticks.
Generously spread cornmeal on your flat surface. Place a ball of dough on top and sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough out to your desired size, keeping in mind that it will rise somewhat when you bake it. Poke holes in the dough so that it doesn’t bubble.
If you are making breadsticks, form them by rolling the dough between your hands so that it forms…a breadstick :). Put them in the oven first because they take the longest to bake, around 15 minutes.
Place your pizza dough on a baking sheet or pizza stone and bake for about 5 minutes, until it begins to firm. Pull it out of the oven and add your desired toppings, then put it back in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crust is brown. Keep your eye on the breadsticks, you’ll know they’re done when the bottoms are brown.
And that’s it! We went with green pepper, onion, and mushrooms.
This pizza never disappoints. We enjoyed it last night while relaxing on the couch–I was exhausted after a busy day at work. We peeled ourselves off the couch after dinner for a walk. I’ve really been sticking to my resolution to walk more, I have been walking a ton! It has really improved my mood.
I’m off to read before walking to work!