European, Food, Italian

The Easiest and Best Homemade Pizza —EVER!

A couple of weeks ago, we had a potluck dinner party/end of the school year/ pool party for some of our new friends and their families.  The theme was: Italian Summer and everyone brought  great food to share.  We had an assortment  of pastas, salads and fruits, pesto, panna cotta and tiramisu.  My husband grilled some steaks and some veggie kabobs (which, my son would like to point out, are not very Italian.  But they were good.)   We had wine, beer and cocktails made with Lemoncello, soda, lime and mint leaves.  It was a good time and everyone left full and happy, if not, slightly tipsy.

The morning of the party, I decided to whip up some pizzas for the kids using a new recipe that I had found on Smitten Kitchen.  I realize that could have been a very risky move—-everyone knows that you don’t try out a new recipe on guests, right?

I had faith in Smitten Kitchen and just wanted to try something new.  So, I went for it and was pleasantly surprised with the results.  Actually, very, very surprised with the results.  It didn’t seem possible that the pizza crust dough could involve so few ingredients and be so perfect.

I truly think that I have found my go-to pizza crust for the rest of my life.  This is the recipe that I will pass on to my children—-it is seriously that good.

The day after the party,  I decided to make the pizza again.  Me and the kids can eat pizza everyday and I wanted to be doubly sure that the dough would turn out just as perfect.  It did.

If you feel like trying your hand at this easy peasy pizza—you really should. You will never go back to store bought pizzas again.  And you may even stop eating pizzas out (unless you are in NYC, and then you will buy a slice everyday.

Here is the recipe, borrowed from Smitten Kitchen which was borrowed from Jim Lehey.  Keep reading for  step-by-step instructions:

Jim Lahey’s Pizza Crust

I doubled the recipe and made about six 6-inch pizzas.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 cup cold water
Olive oil, for bowl and pans
1 teaspoon instant dry yeast

1. Combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer, and slowly add 1 cup cold water. Mix on low speed until ingredients begin to combine. Switch to a dough hook and continue to mix for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic and cleanly pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl.

2. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and allow to rest for 2 to 4 hours until it has doubled in size.  This is a good time to prepare your toppings and have a nice big glass of wine.  My dough is resting beneath the towel and my wine is ready!

3.  After the 2-4 hours are up, split the dough into halves, and form each into a log. Place each log on a generously floured surface, and allow it to rest (covered) until the formed dough doubles in size again, at least 1 hour.  The photo below shows the logs post rising.  See how puffy!

4.  At this point, you are ready to make your pizzas into the shape you want. I was feeding a bunch of kids so I made a bunch of little pizzas.  I didn’t roll out the dough–i just kind of stretched it out.  They weren’t beautiful but artisan.

6.  Next, add toppings.  I did the basic marinara with mozzarella, for my picky eaters.  But I also made some with pesto (leftover from the party), cherry tomatoes from my garden, and a combination of mozzarella and Parmesan.  Yummers!

Just looking at the toppings makes me crave this pizza!

7.  I prepared my mini pizzas and then stuck them in the fridge until I was ready to eat them.  Heat the oven to 450 degrees and bake for about 10-15 minutes.   (I tried the recipe both using a pizza stone and without—and I liked the chewy-ness of the crust without the stone.  I also put the oven on the HIGH broil setting for about 15 minutes before I put the pizza in.  I wanted the oven to be as hot as possible.)

Look at that pizza!  It is so professional looking, easy and delicious.  Make it and let me know what you think.