I love pizza!
When I was at my brother’s house for Thanksgiving they made pizza.
Delicious, awesome crust, could have come from a restaurant, pizza.
And I HAD to know how they did it!
Pizza stone was the answer – but pizza stones are expensive and break – & then cost a fortune to replace. So, they had learned online that they could make their own pizza stone. They told me how and I’ve been having AMAZING home made pizza ever since.
What you need is:
unglazed quarry tile – 1/2 thick at least. The unglazed part is the most important. I could only find 6×6 tiles (my brother somehow found some 8×8 tiles – they don’t sell those in my area). I had to do a bunch of calling and finally found them at Manards. They cost about 50 cents a piece. So, $3 later I had enough tiles to fit in my oven and bake on. – 2 rows of 3 is what usually works when using 6×6 tiles. (I actually bought 10 so I’d have replacements if some broke).
When you get your tiles home rinse them of and let them dry thoroughly before using. If there is still moisture on them, they’ll break. About an hour before you want to make pizza, put them in your oven on the wire rack – I like having my rack either in the center or one step down towards the bottom. Set your oven as hot as it will go – usually between 500 – 550 for conventional ovens. It will take about 30 minutes to preheat and then you want it to heat for another 20 -30 minutes so those stones get good and hot.
Now, you can’t have good pizza without a good crust recipe – and I searched around a bit looking for one I liked. I found one, but the crust was too thin (I like thick crusts), so I doubled it and tweaked it slightly & it made the yummiest crust! So, here’s the recipe (if you want a thinner crust, half it)
Makes 4 10-12 inch pieces (or bigger/more if you want thinner)
10 C flour (I prefer Bread flour)
3 Tbs Sugar
4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
5 Tbs olive oil
4 cups water (may need to add a bit more – I think I did, but I don’t remember how much)
Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl (or mixer – mixer is way easier) and stir vigorously . After all the ingredients are combined, let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Mix again adding flour or water if needed. You want your pizza dough to be a little wetter and stickier than your typical bread dough. It should be dry enough it holds together and pulls away from the side of the bowl when you mix it, but it doesn’t need to be dry enough to knead by hand.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces and place each one into an oiled freezer bag. (I use olive oil to oil the bags – I put it on my hands and then rub the inside of the bag – that way the dough won’t stick to my hands either.
At this point, if you aren’t going to use all the dough today you can throw a couple of them into the freezer – they’ll be good for at least a month and the evening before you use them, put the dough balls in the refrigerator to thaw.
The best thing for a tasty pizza crust is a slow rise – so I make my dough early in the day and let it rise for a few hours in the fridge. It’s fine though if you are short on time and can only let it rise an hour on the counter. From what I read online, flavor improves with longer slower rises at reduced temperature. The first time I made the crust I didn’t have time to let it rise long and did a counter rise – it tasted great – but the second time I did it, I did the long rise and it was SO much yummier!
So, now you made your dough and it’s rising! Yay! When your ready, just roll it out to the size and shape you need/want. I like flinging mine in the air and pretending like I know what I’m doing. So far it’s fallen on the floor, counter, my face…. but the kids think it’s funny (and fun)
So, the next awesome thing you need is a great pizza sauce.
I thought I could take some sauce and paste and throw seasonings in it and it’d be great. I was wrong – I could never get it right, so I searched the internet and found this gem for the Ultimate Pizza sauce on food.com. It take a little effort – but it is SO worth it. I’m changing it here to fit your 4 pizzas – if you have left over it’s good in the fridge for about a week, or you can freeze it.
4 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs butter
1 C finely chopped onion
1/2 C finely chopped celery
2 garlic cloves minced (or if you’re like me and always forget to buy garlic cloves – garlic powder works too – use 1 tsp)
2 cans (8 oz) tomato sauce
2 cans (6 oz) tomato paste
4 Tbs grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 small bay leaves
2 tsp fennel seeds (fennel seeds are the MOST IMPORTANT part of any pizza sauce – really – it’s the difference between good and WOWZA!!!)
In a skillet, melt but with oil and sautee the onion, garlic, & celery until soft and transparent – some of you will be worried it will make the sauce to chunkly, it won’t as long as you dice it small and cook it well – the flavor it adds is wonderful. Add the tomato sauce & tomato paste and stir until smooth. Add all the rest of the ingredients and simmer. You can simmer for 30-60 minutes for full flavor, or you can use sooner if you’re short on time. Take out the bay leaves and spread the sauce on your prepared dough. (you do not need to cook your crust ahead of time). It makes a nice thick sauce and it’s REALLY yummy.
Then, top your pizza with whatever you want.
A couple more tips:
You’ll want a pizza peel – wood or metal (I have wood, my brother has metal).
spread cornmeal liberally on your pizza peel before you put the crust on it – this will help the pizza to slide off after you have it assembled.
Bake you pizzas directly on the stones (the stones, 0r tiles, absorbed the moisture and give the awesome crisper crust on the bottom).
For thinner crust pizzas we bake at 550 for about 7 minutes – for thicker crust pizzas we bake at 550 for about 8 minutes.
When you pull them from the oven, let them cool for a couple minutes on a wire wrack to keep the bottoms from turning soggy.
It’s not really as much work as it sounds like & it’s well worth it for pizzas that taste as good as the restaurant kind at a fraction of the cost. 🙂
Here are a couple of pictures from our last pizza night (New Year’s Eve)
Feel free to ask me questions –
I’m not an expert, but I might be able to make up an answer that sounds convincing! 😀