Of course Nana’s pizza was delicious as was everything she made for the family. She would use the frozen bread dough, thawed, risen and shaped into a pizza pan with lots of olive oil, topped with sauce, cheese and various toppings. Since then, my dad has been on a mission to perfect his pizza, and lucky for us, he’s shared his techniques along the way. With his help, our too-frequent consumption of good pizza, and our regular trial-and-error pizza crafting sessions, I believe we’re near perfection.
The Sessions’ family pizza evolution
When my husband and I first started cooking pizza, it was always of the pre-made frozen variety. First we started cooking it in the oven, and then we received this pizza cooker as a Christmas gift one year. Surprisingly, it actually made frozen pizza taste much better! We were hooked on frozen pizzas cooked this way for several years and actually preferred them to store bought.
Slowly we began to venture into making pizza from scratch. We started out mixing the dough in a breadmaker and forming the dough into a pan. We experimented with cooking pizza on the grill, which introduced us to cooking at high temperatures. As a birthday gift one year, my dad got me a pizza stone and a peel, and we began our own quest for the best pizza. Just last year, we received a Pizzaque as a gift (do you see a theme here?), and I think that we’ve finally mastered the technique. Now we need to work on the recipe.
There has been an evolution of our recipes as well. When using the bread machine, we used the recipe from the cookbook that came with the appliance. When we were grilling, we used a recipe that had a little more flour in it because the dough needed to be a little stiffer to prevent it from falling through the grill grates. Once we began cooking on the pizza stone in the oven and then later the Pizzaque, we started using a very simple recipe that is mixed using a stand mixer.
Finally, the last step in our pizza evolution has been the ingredients. My dad turned us on to using “00” flour in place of all-purpose flour. Crushed tomatoes are good used in place of pizza sauce. We’ve also found that using fresh mozzarella is better, but not necessary.
As for the toppings? If you ask the husband, it must have bacon on it. We all like pepperoni and/or a variety of cheeses, and pineapple with our bacon. What are your favorite pizza toppings? I would love to hear in the comments. We’re always up for trying new toppings!
The basic dough recipe:
1 – 1 ¼ cups warm water
2 TBSP olive oil
4 cups flour
1-2 TBSP sea salt, depending on your tastes
2 ¼ tsp dry yeast
Add ingredients to the stand mixer as listed above. Mix using the dough hook until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Cover the dough ball in the bowl and let rise all day. If using a pizza stone, about an hour before you want to eat the pizza, heat the oven with the stone in it to 500 degrees. While waiting for the stone to come to temp, form the dough into 3-4 small pizzas by stretching on a floured surface.
Once the stone is to temp, sprinkle a pizza peel with cornmeal. It’s important to act quickly from this point on to ensure your pizza comes off the peel. Place the dough on the prepared peel. Top dough with sauce (or plain crushed tomatoes), cheese and your preferred toppings. Slide the pizza onto the stone and cook for 5-8 minutes until browned on top. Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, slice it up and enjoy!