Ah, pizza, one of the greatest meals on planet earth. If I had to pick one thing to eat for the rest of my life, it’d probably be pizza. From the crispy, chewy dough to the sauce and melted cheese, to the endless combinations of toppings and herbs, no matter how you spin it, pizza is always a guaranteed enjoyable occasion.
Back when I was working in a pizza shop and trying to save up enough money to buy Anne an engagement ring, I had the pleasure of learning how to make a pizza pie from scratch. It all starts with crafting quality dough. Combine oil, water, flour and yeast, and you’ve got the groundwork for your crust. At home, I usually save some time and skip this part by buying freshly made dough from my local pizza spot or grocery store. The key is that you want your dough to be fresh, or it’ll be less cooperative.
Fancy people like to toss their pies. For me, it’s plain fun and makes for good pictures. It may look difficult, but I promise you it’s not. If you’re not up for the challenge, a rolling pin works just fine.
For the sauce, I keep it simple. Mix some tomato paste with salt, pepper, chili flakes, garlic powder and a splash of wine (or water). It’s important for the sauce to be a thick consistency. Wet sauce makes for soggy dough, and nobody wants that.
Get outta here with the pepperonis, and give me some peppered salami.
When it comes to the cheese, I like to buy a log of fresh mozzarella. Though, you can substitute this with dehydrated mozzarella as well. I then cut it into 1-by-2-inch chunks and lay them on top of the sauce. Then, I sprinkle on whatever toppings I have on hand. I, for one, think if you’re going to include meat, salami is one of the most underrated pizza toppings. Get outta here with the pepperonis, and give me some peppered salami. I like to throw on some fresh garlic, mushrooms, a bunch of arugula and whatever else I have in my fridge. Other times, I’ll go the ol’ margherita route with basil and fresh tomatoes . . . when they’re in season. (Personal side note: Only use tomatoes when they’re in season. Otherwise, they’re bland and pointless, unless you're cooking them down.)
While there is an endless list of pizza toppings, from artichoke hearts to sundried tomatoes or capers, the key is to keep it relatively simple. Too many toppings make for a heavy, wet pizza that’s just too complicated to be enjoyed. As a rule of thumb, try to keep to a max of three or so toppings. The simpler your pie, the better.
When you’re pie's primed for the oven, be sure to use a pizza stone and let it get real hot (450–500 degrees Farenheit) before carefully sliding the pizza onto it. A pizza stone ensures for a crispy, seared, yet chewy crust. When you’re about halfway through the cook time, take the pizza out, rotate it about 120 degrees, then put it back in so it bakes evenly. You’ll know it’s done when the crust begins to turn golden brown. Once you reach that golden crust, remove it from the oven, admire your creation, add some finishing toppings, like freshly grated parmesan, chili flakes, olive oil and maybe some arugula or extra basil, and bam! Your homemade pizza pie is served.