We have had homemade pizza every other Saturday for more than 15 years now. The reason this is possible for a normal time-crunched family is this easy pizza dough (and I do mean easy: no kneading and only 20 minute rest before shaping and topping!). I’ve seen the recipe floating around the ‘net, but haven’t seen anyone give credit to the source I originally found it in: an old Betty Crocker cookbook we received for our wedding in 1988 (well, that sorta dates me, huh?).
Honestly, it takes less time to make, start to finish, than ordering and picking up one. And the cost is $5-10 depending on your toppings (a regular pepperoni comes in at less than $3!) compared to $15-$20+ at a pizza chain.
One of the best things about the Betty Crocker recipe is that there were directions for making the dough into individual pizzas, as well as a regular sized pizza. This has become one of our favorite meals to do with guests – especially families with children and people we’re having over for the first time (and may not know likes, food intolerance’s, etc.). I prebake the crusts, line up all the toppings, and everyone goes through the line choosing what they want. This really takes the stress out of hosting new friends and makes it fun.
How to make your own quick and easy pizza:
1. Add the yeast to the warm water, stirring to dissolve and then add the salt, sugar or honey and olive oil.
2. Add the flour. I usually use 1/2 whole wheat or spelt, and half unbleached wheat flour. I’ve made it with 100% spelt before for my niece with a wheat sensitivity with good success, as well as 100% whole wheat. It’s a bit more fluffy with 1/2 white flour, which we like.
3. Mix it with the regular paddle attachment (or by hand for about 20-30 strokes) until it cleans the sides of the bowl.
4. Leave it to rest for about 20 minutes. I’ve let it rest for less time (read: none) and longer, and it turns out fine. It just has nicer edges and is easier to roll if it rests for about 20 minutes. Actually, I think the original recipe said only 10, but I liked the texture better with a longer rest (does it become a “rise” at that point?). It will have risen a bit at the end of the 20 minutes, but it won’t have doubled in size.
5a. For individual pizzas: Separate the dough into 7 equal pieces and round them a little bit (like I did for the pita bread here). Then prep a pan with a liner (or a baking stone, but mine broke, and I don’t always use liners – cornmeal works fine) and place a little bit of cornmeal in four spots. I stagger them on the pan like pictured. Shape each one on top of the cornmeal, using your fingers to press each flattened ball into roughly a 6 inch circle.
5b. For one large pizza: Add a little cornmeal on a pizza pan, stone, or rectangular baking sheet, add all the dough to the center and press out to fill the pan, building up the edges if you’d like. I’ve found it helps to start the rolling process with a rolling pin and then finish the edges by hand. A baking stone makes the best crust, we think, so I’m hoping to replace it soon.
For individual pizzas: Since the crusts will puff in the oven, I like to make an edge and make sure the center is fairly thin and even for cooking. And it’s ok if the individual pizza edges touch – they won’t be perfectly round but that’s the joy of homemade, isn’t it?
6. For both sizes: Prebake the crust(s) in a 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes. It may puff up in spots- just push it down when you take it out of the oven. It doesn’t matter for the end result. I like to make sure the tops are brown, but the bottoms are only lightly brown, so they won’t burn when we cook them later with the toppings. Note: prebaking even the regular sized pizza helps ensure that the center gets fully cooked.
7. Add sauce and toppings, return to oven and cook another 7-12 minutes, until the cheese is melted and browned.
Additional tips for individual pizzas:
- After the prebake, place the crusts on a rack to cool. It’s easiest if they are made in advance for guests – let them sit out on the rack if it’s only an hour before. Put them in an airtight container making the day before. I’ve also refrigerated them for a few days and have frozen them as well and they’ve turned out great.
- To set up for guests, line up the choices with the sauces and cheese first and then the topping choices. We usually have a couple choices of sauces, cheeses, and meat, and then add various vegetables (this is a meal we did the other night for my daughter’s sleepover. Six 13 year-old girls. For 24 hours. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that…).
- This is a great way to use things from your freezer and pantry, like: pizza sauce, pesto, shredded cheese – mozzarella, parmesan, etc., Italian sausage, prosciutto, olives, onions, canned artichokes, and roasted red peppers. Sometimes I like to add cooked chicken and feta cheese to make Greek styled pizzas. (The pizza night pictured for eight people came in at around $8.00, since many of the items came from our garden – way cheaper than take-out and a lot more fun!)
- After they are topped and you’ve put them back in the oven, you’ll need to rotate the pans if you have more than one and the pizzas with less toppings may be done sooner, so you should keep checking after the 7 minute mark.
- My biggest tip for the individual pizzas: always have people top their pizza in unique ways (olive in the middle, using peppers to make initial, etc.) so they will recognize it when it comes out of the oven. Amazing how melting cheese makes everything look the same…
Homemade Pizza: Individual Mini or Regular Size
- 1 package dry yeast (or 1 scant tablespoon)
- 1 cup warm water (just from the tap)
- 1 t. sugar
- 1 t. salt
- 1-2 Tb. olive oil
- 2-1/2 cups flour
- Sauce, cheese, and desired toppings
- Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in remaining ingredients.
- Beat with a mixer until the dough pulls away from the edges (or by hand vigorously for 20-30 strokes). Let rest 15-20 minutes.
- For individual pizzas: separate into 7 equal balls, flatten and shape into small pizzas on a cookie sheet sprinkled with a little cornmeal. Three to four should fit on a sheet.
- Prebake the small pizzas for about 10 minutes in a 425 degree oven. Remove to a rack to cool.
- Have each person top a pizza as they wish, place it back on the cookie sheet, and cook for another 7-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and toppings are done.
- For one large pizza: on a pan (pizza, baking stone, or cookie sheet), sprinkle some cornmeal and spread to the edges of the pan.
- Prebake in 425 degree oven as well (optional, but ensures fully cooked crust).
- Remove from oven, top with sauce, cheese and toppings and return to oven for 10-15 minutes, until done. Cook it on the lowest rack setting so that the bottom crust is closest to the element.
Makes 1 large or 7 individual pizzas
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