I’ve wanted to make my own pizza for a long time but I never took the plunge. Part of the reason was because I didn’t own a pizza stone, but it was also because I was intimidated by the process.
In the past, I used to buy pre-made pizza dough from Whole Foods, shape it myself, and put on toppings. I did this a lot when I had people over for dinner, or if I wanted to eat a whole pesto mushroom pizza by myself (that’s one of my favorite combos).
I’m still a fan of this process, especially if you’re short on time. But as it turns out, making pizza from scratch it pretty easy. Yeah, it’s not as easy as making one on a pre-made crust or ordering one already made. But it’s simple enough, and the results are delicious enough, that I’d advocate for trying it at least once.
If you decide to make your own pizza, you’ll need some tools. You’ll need to invest in a pizza stone. You can find cheap-ish ones on Amazon. You put the stone on the bottom rack of your oven while it’s heating up, and then you slide the pizza dough on top and let it cook. The stones are kind of heavy and cumbersome, but they’re DEFINITELY worth having. They’ll take your pizza crust from amateur hour to “whoa.”
I would also recommend investing in a pizza peel. That’s the wooden or metal paddle you see chefs using at restaurants to slide the pizza in and out of the oven. I didn’t buy one of these and I sorely regretted it. I had to enlist the help of my mom to slide the second pizza into the oven. This was after I ruined the first one by making the crust too thin and trying to carry it over to the oven unassisted.
Still, overall the process was easy and I was very happy with the results. I made a fontina, arugula, green apple pizza with prosciutto and it was AMAZING. The crust was the perfect consistency, not too thin and not too thick, and the ends were soft and chewy. The cheese and apple paired well together and the spicy arugula added a little kick. The prosciutto was my favorite topping. It got crunchy in the oven and gave the pizza a smoky flavor.
Another word to the wise about making pizza from scratch: Making the dough is waaay easier than you’d think. If you’ve ever made bread, it’s easier than that. If you haven’t, it’s still pretty straightforward. You mix together some flour, water, instant yeast, salt, and a bit of sugar in a stand mixer with a dough hook, wait until the mixture forms a ball, and then knead it a few times on a lightly floured countertop.
Once you’ve kneaded the dough, you set it in a greased bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. You let it rise for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. Then you split it into two parts (for two pizzas), let it sit for about 10 minutes, and then you can start shaping it.
So yeah…I realize that this process sounds more involved than I let on at the top of this post. But trust me when I say that it’s easier than it seems. The hardest part is getting the dough from the counter to the oven, but if you invest in a pizza peel, this will be less complicated.
I’m going to put a recipe for dough below. I’ll also give you some guidance on how to make the arugula, fontina, apple pizza that I made Saturday night.
Here’s a song to get you started. It’s good for times when you spend 20 minutes shaping a margherita pizza and topping it, and then it collapses into a heap on your oven door.
Fontina, Apple, Arugula and Prosciutto Pizza
for the dough:
3 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling
1 tsp sugar
1 envelope instant dry yeast
2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups room temperature water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 3 teaspoons
for the toppings:
1 cup shredded fontina cheese
1/2 green apple, sliced thin
1/2 cup arugula
2-3 pieces thinly-sliced prosciutto, torn into bite-size pieces
First, make the pizza dough. Mix flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook. While the mixer is running, add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil and beat until the dough forms into a ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. If the dough is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time so it looks more shiny and elastic. Use a spatula to turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a smooth, firm ball.
Grease a large bowl with 2 teaspoons olive oil, add the dough, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm space and let the dough double in size. This will take about an hour.
Place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of your oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Make sure you leave enough room above the rack so you can slide in the pizza later.
When you’re ready to use the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into two equal pieces. Cover each piece with plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes before you start shaping them. I like to shape my dough by working from the middle out, and then using my fingers to pat down the edges in a circle to form a crust.
Brush the crust with olive oil and lightly brush the center of the dough with olive oil to form a base for your toppings. Start with the fontina cheese and layer the apple, arugula, and prosciutto on top, sprinkling on extra cheese at the end.
Place the pizza on the stone and bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until the cheese is browned, melted, and bubbly on top. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on a rack. Cut and serve. Leftovers are great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner the next day as long as they’re kept in a sealed container in the fridge. Enjoy!