There is something indubitably delectable for everyone to prepare – the homemade pizza. While it is argued that preparing a scrumptious pizza is an art, there are some secrets to the way of making the perfect pizza at home that can turn even an inexperienced person into a seasoned pizza expert. With a little essential knowledge and a lot of enthusiasm, the perfect homemade pizza is but a few steps away.

 

Preparation time:

 2 hours

 

Cooking time:

 ½ hour

 

Equipment Needed:

Use a pizza stone for your pizza dough to be crusty

Use a proper pizza oven to guarantee a perfect crust and flavour (check some options here)

A baking sheet (flat), to be used as a peel

A pizza slicing wheel for proper cutting and serving

 

Ingredients:

For making a 12 inch pizza:

Warm water: 1.5 cups (about 110 degree F)

Active dry yeast: 1 packet – 2.25 tea-spoons

Bread flour: 3.5 cups

Olive oil: 2 table-spoons

Salt: 2 tea-spoons

Sugar – 1 teaspoon

Olive oil

Tomato puree

Cheese: shredded parmesan / mozzarella

Mushrooms, Bell peppers (remove stems & seeds) – sliced

Cooked Sausage (Italian)

Basil leaves

Pepperoni (sliced)

Onions (sliced)

Ham (sliced)

Pesto (A sauce made out of crushed basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil)

 

Preparation:

Dough – The recipe for the dough is short and simple – olive oil, flour, yeast, salt, and water. Add warm water in a large bowl of electric mixer. To it, add yeast and leave it for 5 minutes until it gets dissolved completely. Stir it if need be. Then mix in Flour, Olive oil, Salt & Sugar and mix it for about a minute at low speeds. Now using a dough hook, mix the ingredients at low speeds in the electric mixer, until the dough becomes smooth & elastic- usually takes 10 minutes to get this stage. Add a little more flour, if the dough gets too wet. If you don’t have a mixer, just follow the same process by hand.

Now, coat the dough with a layer of olive oil and cover in a plastic wrap. Leave it in a warm place (about 80 degree F) for about 1.5 hours, until it doubles in size.

At this point, remove the cover and place it on the pizza stone (which is preheated to 400 degree F, for about an hour or so). You can make two balls of dough with this serving and cover each round ball again with plastic and leave them for about 8-12 minutes. Then with each round ball, flatten it in an outward fashion, until it reaches a 10-12 inch diameter. Flatten it uniformly and apply some Olive oil. Now, your pizza base is ready for the toppings.

Few tips regarding Dough:

The first and foremost secret of the perfect homemade pizza is the dough. Using ready dough for the pizza base is an easy shortcut many people resort to because of lack of time. Supermarkets sell raw and frozen dough of different brands, and trying them can help to discern the best one. Another way of obtaining the pizza dough instantly is to get a dough ball from the nearest pizzeria.

For enthusiasts, mastering the art of preparing the perfect dough is rewarding, for the overall scrumptiousness of the pizza depends greatly on the quality dough. Naturally, the goal is to achieve a thin crust rather than a thick one, for a crispy effect that does not overwhelm the ingredients on top of the pizza base. The dough to form the base of the perfect homemade pizza should not result in a tough and bland crust after baking, and it should not be fluffy either. Experts on pizza dough insist that to achieve the best flavor and the necessary crust texture, the dough should be prepared at least a day prior to using it, and preparing it a week earlier is even better. To achieve a good dough texture, mixing some honey with the water and the yeast is recommended to help the yeast become active. It is especially important to leave the pizza dough to rise naturally. When the dough has risen enough, it should have doubled in size, which can take different periods of time, depending on the room temperature. For aficionados of healthier dough varieties, adding half white and half wholemeal flour is even better. Some people use dough recipes which are for bread dough, and they work finely, especially when some olive oil is added.  It makes a nice difference for a rich, velvety texture, so it is worth replacing a couple of tablespoons of water with the same amount of olive oil for a delectable scent. Homemade dough can be frozen and kept handy in the fridge for several months. Then people who decide to make their homemade pizza know they have the material for the base ready and just need to defrost it.

 

The Toppings: The pizza base is now placed on the peel and make sure it doesn’t stick to it while being slid into the oven. Apply sauces, sprinkle cheese and your desired toppings on the flattened dough.

The question of ingredients is difficult to answer. There are zillions of recipes of traditional pizzas, like the ubiquitous Margherita for example, and also recipes for richer and toppings cluttered pizzas that are difficult to follow closely, as some ingredients are not often found in people’s homes. People who have their favorite pizza types can stick to the recipes, or they can experiment by adding toppings that they have in their fridges and cupboards tomatoes, vegetables – either fresh or frozen, sliced, diced, grated, different pieces of meat, sausage, salami, etc. Some people insist that the scrumptious homemade pizza should always include mushrooms and grated cheese on top which acts as a sealer and adds the final touch to any pizza.

Tomatoes are another staple in pizzas, and the homemade pizza simply cannot exist without them. Whether fresh slices of tomatoes, or canned diced tomatoes, the tomato layer at the bottom of all the ingredients is the perfect foundation for a homemade pizza masterpiece. Tomatoes are a great solution for newbies and for busy people.

 

Sauces: For people with more experience and eagerness to make a difference to their homemade pizza, a sauce such as marinara is much better. Homemade sauce is like homemade pizza dough – unsurpassed in flavor and delectability. In fact, preparing marinara sauce is not as difficult as some people might think. Furthermore, the advantages that no preservatives or additives are used, and preparing homemade sauce saves money, are worth experimenting. In addition to diced tomatoes, add garlic, onion, olive oil, spices which are obligatory to form the flavor such as basil and oregano, a little cayenne for a spicy touch, and if there are some extra carrots, shredding them and adding to the sauce help to relieve some of the acidity. A timely reminder here is that low fat sauces are definitely better and health friendly.

The question of preference for cooked or uncooked pizza sauce is a matter of personal taste. Uncooked pizza sauce is faster to prepare; on the other hand, cooked pizza sauce enables dried herbs to blend their flavor in it, which is an advantage in winter, a season in which fresh herbs are hard to find.

For people who frequently make homemade pizza, cooking a larger amount of sauce and freezing portions of it for further use is a time and effort saving solution.

 

Herbs & Spices: Herbs and spices are the assets that enhance the flavor of the pizza sauce and of the pizza as a whole. No homemade pizza can be complete without the typical herbs such as oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, mint, savory. Oregano is definitely Number one among herbs and spices for the perfect pizza. Another trick for achieving mouthwatering flavor is by means of adding olive oil in the dough, as was pointed out above, or directly on the pizza base. Garlic oil, or tarragon oil for the homemade pizza with chicken, are other splendid options.

 

Baking: Slide the pizza off the peel onto the baking stone in the pizza oven. Bake it for about 12-15 minutes, until the crust turns brown & cheese golden.

The process of baking is the final stage on the way to the perfect homemade pizza. Depending on where they bake their pizzas, people use pizza pans or baking stones. Using a proper pizza oven makes a big difference in your final result – the Californo ovens are highly recomended. When baking pizzas on baking stones, putting a pan of water at the bottom of the oven is a simple but efficient trick to enable the cheese to melt in the perfect way, not resulting in the crust getting too crunchy. Baking the pizza dough base is important to achieve the perfect results. Placing the base on the upper oven shelves is a must, because the heat during baking rises and is the highest at the top of the oven. Baking several pizza bases can save time, but they should all be put at least in the oven middle and top shelves. Generally baking pizza bases takes from ten to fifteen minutes, and the more bases are being baked, the longer it takes. People who prefer thicker crust bases should expect them to take longer to bake than thinner crust ones.

The advantages of making a homemade pizza are obvious. First of all, that is a pastime that can fill hours with fun and expectation of a delicious meal to be enjoyed with a glass of juice or wine, in the dining room or alfresco in balmy weather. From a health point of view, the homemade pizza is invaluable, enabling its creators to choose healthy ingredients without preservatives and to take care to prepare low fat pizzas. Finally, people can turn preparing their homemade pizzas into a creative experience, adapting and experimenting to come up with their own, unique and indubitably scrumptious recipes they can share with friends.