The Secret to A Delicious Homemade Pizza? Crust and Toppings
Back twenty years ago when I was a graduate student in nutrition, my small group of nutrition friends and I used to cook together. It comes with the territory. Hang out with nutrition students and what do you do and talk about? Food. Cooking. Health. And we loved to cook and eat together. Each one of us would put in our creative food ideas and bring something to our various homesteads and voila, a fun dinner.
Those were the days.
There was one grad student among us called Mark, who used to make us these amazing pizzas. The crust was unbelievable. It was the best crust on a pizza I have ever eaten. He would always make the pizzas, it was ‘kind of like’ his job for the dinners. His toppings were always healthy and colorful and different. We would ask him,
“How do you do it?” “What makes it taste so good?”
Mark opened his refrigerator and there was the answer. You could see the small plastic packs. Growing. Smelling. And we knew why the crust tasted so good. Hey, we learned about in Food Science classes: Fermentation. Aged dough.
A week later our friend Mark handed us each a copy of “The Secret Pizza Recipe, Revealed for the First Time.” I still have the original, although I have lost touch with Mark.
So I dedicate this article to him and thank him in ‘spirit‘ because I have made this pizza over and over.
The secret on why it is so good? The crust and toppings.
The Secret Pizza Recipe a la Mark
The crust carries the toppings with a gourmet style. You can be creative and add any vegetables, herbs, cheeses that you want to try. And making this pizza recipe is a great opportunity to teach your kids how to make a simple pizza dough using live yeast, the dough kneading technique, the fermentation (or aging) process with gases emitted into your refrigerator (don’t worry, they smell good and it isn’t dangerous 😉 ).
This picture shows my son making this dough (as you can tell he loves to make this recipe!) And two examples of different pizza toppings I made: steamed broccoli on one side and red onion on the other side, topped with basil herbs and mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. I also made a sliced yellow bell pepper and rocket salad for the second pizza.
The inspiration is yours! And to get more ideas, check out my fellow recipe redux group who share their healthy pizza ideas.
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Secret Pizza Recipe Revealed For the First Time
|Prep time||30 minutes|
|Cook time||15 minutes|
|Total time||45 minutes|
|Meal type||Lunch, Main Dish|
|Misc||Child Friendly, Serve Hot|
- 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 cup warm water (just slightly less than 1 cup of water)
- 1 teaspoon yeast (not quick rise)
- olive oil
- flour for dusting
- 2oz tomato sauce (I use plain tomato puree or use your own tomato sauce)
- chopped herbs of your choice (example: basil, parsley, thyme, oregano)
- pizza cheese(s) of your choice (example: mozzarella, romano, parmesan)
- chopped or sliced toppings of your choice (example: onions, bell peppers, broccoli, rocket salad, sliced tomatoes)
This is my favorite pizza recipe because of the wonderful taste of the crust. The crust is aged, or fermented in the refrigerator. This recipe makes one pizza that serves 2-3 adults. I would recommend doubling or tripling the recipe if you are making for a large family. Or you can make a few pizza dough and putting them in the refrigerator to age and then put them in the freezer for another time.
Be creative with toppings on this delicious crust. Why not go veggie and add some broccoli and peppers or stick to traditional and use some sliced tomatoes and Parmesan cheese? Whatever toppings you decide, this crust will carry it with a gourmet touch.
|Mix together flour and salt in a large bowl. Add yeast to warm water in another small bowl, wait a few minutes for yeast to foam and bubble.|
|Stir this water into flour, mix well with a spoon. The dough should be sticky.|
|Knead the dough on a floured surface (with floured hands) for 5 to 10 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. Add as much flour as necessary, but in small amounts, to keep the dough from sticking. The dough should be kneaded into a ball.|
|Place dough ball into an oiled sandwich bag and allow to rise slowly, ideally for one or two days in the refrigerator. This long, slow rising time is what gives the baked pizza crust its light, airy texture, called "aging."|
|Check the dough about 12 hours later, to let the carbon dioxide out of the bag and squish the dough down. The dough can remain in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days, or can be frozen for several weeks.|
|When ready to make the pizza, preheat oven to 500 degrees F for at least 15 minutes. Remove the dough from the bag, and form into a crust on a floured surface. Place the formed crust on an oiled baking sheet, spread a thin layer of olive oil over the surface of the crust (most importantly, the edges) and it's ready for toppings. Add the tomato sauce if desired, then the cheese(s) and the toppings.|
|Place pizza into oven. Gas oven: Place pizza pan on the lowest rack position. Electric Oven: Place Pizza pan in the center rack on the oven.|
|Check pizza frequently-cooking time will vary, somewhere around 10-15 minutes.|