Growing up, my family had a weekly Pizza Night. I’m pretty sure most families do this on some level…or at least most families in our neck of the woods (but, then again, we also tell jokes at Halloween instead of just saying “Trick or Treat”…midwesterners are special). We used to sit around a big, colorful blanket that my mom would lay out on the family room floor, gorge ourselves on take out pizza, drink our milk and relish in the entertainment value of TGIF television. An indoor picnic party every Friday night. *Sigh* Those were some fun times. I love my siblings.
But I digress! I was prompted to start our own Pizza Night a while ago when JJ began taking night classes, mandating an easy couch-worthy meal for the two of us. And, being that the nearest pizza place is 15 minutes away, and is a Pizza Hut – which has become rather gross lately – I’ve been working hard on my homemade pizza making skills. They are getting pretty good (I brag).
I’ve always followed the recipe for Valentino’s Pizza Crust. It’s easy and almost completely fail proof. But, it’s a little bland if you follow it strictly. So, I’ve adapted it slightly and found a few tricks that make it extra ‘real nice’, as I like to say.
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 tablespoon pizza seasonings
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Give that mixture a brief stir, then mix in the flour. If it seems too sticky, add a little more flour. It should be slightly sticky, but not difficult to manage. Knead it for a few minutes, just to get the ingredients mixed.
The original recipe says it only needs 10 minutes to rise. I’ve found that letting it have anywhere from 1-4 hours is best. Good things take time…but this recipe is totally rush-able if you’ve only got 10 minutes to wait.
Once you’re ready to cook, simply roll out the pizza (no need to be perfectly round, unless you are biased against crazy shaped pizzas), add your topings and bake for 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees. 2 important tips here that really improve your ‘za:
1. Use cornmeal instead of flour to roll out the pizza.
2. Always bake on a pizza stone that has been thoroughly preheated (otherwise your crust will stick and not become crunchy).