Saturday, August 2, 2014

Make-Ahead Pizza (From Scratch!)

I was going to save these pizza doughs—all three of them—for dinner tonight, but then I got hungry. And our contractor canceled his appointment (although yippee! I had cleaned the kitchen thinking he'd be coming over, so I had a nice clean space for taking photos of my food babies. My kitchen is not normally clean enough for this.). 
And I made these doughs from scratch, anyway, so I can have one for breakfast if I want, right?

So listen. Pizza is amazing. We can all agree on that. It's also gotten (at least to me) kind of out-of-control expensive in the last few years.
Make your own crusts and BAM—money saving, you can make exactly what you like, and you can kinda impress people when they come over for pizza. "Oh this, you ask? I just made the dough from scratch."
Here's the rub: It's better if you make the crusts the night before you need the pizza. So there's a little planning involved. Although if you're a mom like me, make-ahead recipes are actually a wonderful thing. So make these crusts the night before you need 'em (all it takes is a regular old cereal bowl and ideally a stand mixer, although your hands will do in a pinch) and bake 'em up fresh for ahhh-mazing homemade pizza. From scratch. And save some money while you're at it.
NOTE: If you don't have a whole night for letting it sit in the fridge, just give it at least a half-hour's rest before baking.
My brain calculates cost for everything we eat, out or at home. I figure a batch of these bad boys costs 3 bags of shredded cheese ($6 if you're a savvy shopper) plus toppings, flour, salt, yeast etc. which are pretty minimal. You can feed at least 6 people with these three pizzas, if not more. At $1 a person, this is super economical. And impressive. It does not get better than that.

ONWARD! To the pizza. After dough has sat in the fridge overnight, dust a pan with cornmeal. This is optional, but helps keep the crust crispy and make it feel more professional, somehow. In my experience, it doesn't really help on the non-stick front. But maybe I should have used more.

Stretch your dough out. With one hand, I grab the ball of dough at one side and let it hang. Gravity does the work. I kind of spin it, super slowly of course, until it seems like it has a somewhat even thickness. Slap that baby on the pan.

Now it's ready for whatever you want. Stretch it to the edges of the pan, or leave it whatever shape and thickness you like. Three doughs from this recipe yields just what I like: thin and crispy in the middle, with a crust that's crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside. Here's the bonus recipe for sauce (I make these as an appetizer first...they ALWAYS go super fast and everyone seriously loves them. My brother-in-law named them Lizzie sticks. Whattup.)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp each dried oregano and basil
1/4 tsp each dried thyme and rosemary
Mix. Spread over pizza.

I then added 1 cup of shredded mozzarella and 1/2 cup shredded cheddar jack. I couldn't resist, so I sprinkled a little garlic powder over it all. Into the 450° oven.

10 minutes later, DONE.

As my brother-in-law's name for this suggests, I slice the pie into sticks. And then I eat half of the whole damn thing. I'm still nursing, you guys. Plus it was delicious. Slightly sweet from the olive oil I used, a great yeasty flavor from proofing overnight, rosemary (one of my favorite herbs), oregano, GARLIC. CHEESE. Sprinkle on some parm and crushed red pepper. Go to town. Love it. Eat it. Share it.

It's 12:30 and I've already eaten half of an appetizer pizza. Tonight, I'll make the other two doughs—one with red sauce (usually from a jar...sometimes even Prego) and pepperoni, the other topped with leftover shredded BBQ chicken and plenty of cheese. I'll share pics if I don't eat it all too fast.

Love and lunch,
Here's the recipe!

Homemade Pizza Crust
Yield: 3 crusts (or 2 thick crusts)

4 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp olive oil, optional

1. Mix flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
2. Mix water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Let stand 10 minutes or until yeast has formed a foam on top of the water.
3. Add water/yeast mixture and olive oil to dry ingredients in stand mixer. Mix on low until well combined, adding additional flour or warm water if necessary. (More water is needed if flour is settling at the bottom of mixer bowl, more flour needed if dough is sticking to the bottom of the bowl.)
NOTE: Olive oil is listed as optional because I sometimes forget to add it. In fact, I did this time and the dough was still phenomenal.
4. Using a chef's knife or pizza slicer, cut dough into three equal parts. Add 1/4 tsp olive oil to three small cereal bowls, adding dough to bowls and turning them to coat. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. (If you're in a hurry, or just really hungry, let dough rise in a warm spot for at least 30 minutes instead of overnight.)
5. Preheat oven to 450°. Spread each dough over a pizza pan to desired thickness. Top with sauce listed above or other favorite pizza sauce, 1 1/2 cups cheese and bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is browning and crust is crisp.

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