This is How I Make Homemade Pizza

I Love to Make Homemade Pizza

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This is How I Make Homemade Pizza

This is How I Make Homemade Pizza

 

I love to make homemade pizza.  I love making pizza so much that I have held a weekly pizza night for friends and family for over 10 years.  I have researched and experimented with different recipes and techniques since I was 15 years old when I started my pizza love affair while working at our town’s local pizza joint.

At the time I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and the local pizza joint was a real California style pizzeria, we made the sauces and dough by hand and offered all kinds of fresh toppings ranging from the old standards to artichoke hearts and kalamata olives.   I remember that on dough making days everyone had to work, no exceptions, because there were only four or five employees total and large scale dough making took many hands.  We used a special Granny Smith Apple starter that gave the dough a special, hard to describe flavor.  The manager would drag out the big Hobart stand mixer from the corner where it sat quietly until pressed into service as a dough making dynamo.  He would carefully measure in the flour, water, salt and that amazing apple starter and then set the big mixer to its slowest setting to gently begin incorporating the ingredients.  Once all danger of loose, flying flour had passed he would crank up the Hobart to kneading speed and then we would all watch as the shaggy, craggy mass slowly began to smooth out until it became a smooth and satiny ball of delicious smelling dough.

It was all hands on deck after that, as we all worked together at the big prep bench cutting off balls of dough and weighing them to be sure each small, medium and large pizza was perfectly portioned.  The more experienced employees could hack off the exact amount needed in one try, but I always had to cut, weigh, cut, weigh and adjust my way through the batch.  We had to roll each hunk of dough into a tight ball and then arrange them on the huge proofing trays that slid into the huge refrigerators where we stored the dough until it was needed.

I didn’t know it then, but I later learned through reading the amazing books of Master Baker Peter Reinhart that the refrigeration was part of the secret of that amazing dough, we used the cold environment of the refrigerators to retard the rising of the dough and therefore allowed the flavors in the flour to develop fully.  The dough was delicious the next day but it was amazing towards the end of the batch, in fact we had a whole group of customers who would call to find out what day we had made dough and then time their order for a few days later because they knew that old dough meant delicious pizza.

I don’t know if it was just the pizza and the wonderland of toppings and sauces that were available (my signature pizza was pesto sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and kalamata olives) or if it was the fun and camaraderie of our tight knit group of employees, but ever since then I have pursued the perfect pizza with unrelenting zeal.  These days pizza night at my house has become a reliable, recurring theme that nourishes our bodies and our spirits as an ever expanding cast of characters comes together for great food and something more.  We have used pizza night to mark special occasions, hold celebrations, plan future events, introduce new loves to the family, say goodbye to old friends and most importantly for the chance to enjoy each others’ company.

Over the years I have tweaked and refined not only my recipes, but also the cooking techniques I use to chase pizza perfection.  I have tried multiple oven setups and I have tried every style, shape, size and configuration of dough, sauce and toppings that I could think of or that has been suggested to me.  I literally have thousands of pizzas under my belt and I am still fascinated by the challenge of making amazing pizza.  My friends and family say that I should stop questing because they think my pizza is so good that improvement is not possible, but in my heart I know that I will always have the next great pizza idea that will beg to be made and shared with the people that I love.

I have been asked many times to share my pizza making recipes and techniques so I am going to post a tutorial on my blog for how to make a basic pizza from dough to table.  I’ll hand over my camera to someone at the next pizza night so that I can provide a picture of each step as well.

I would love to hear from you, please feel free to post a comment about pizza or whatever you are passionate about or just whatever is on your mind.

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8 Comments

  1. Jennifer,

    You forgot to mention that you also made fantastic gluten-free dough on our last visit, especially for me. We haven’t been able to duplicate it, even though it was a packaged mix! You are a master pizza maker.

    • Mary Lou you are too kind! I think it has been hard for you to re-create because of your oven set up. I suggest you have Dad fire up the ceramic grill and wait for the temp to get high and stabilize. Then try your gluten free crust in there on a perforated pizza pan. I suspect your oven lacks enough thermal mass to really stabilize the temp, therefore you lose too much heat when you open up to put the dough in. I have to heat up my oven with the bricks inside for at least 45 minutes in order to get really good results.

  2. The best pizza is yours–hands down. Better than any chain or foodie/pizza joint in the design district.

  3. When can we come to pizza night =)?

  4. Hi Jennifer!

    Also a suburb mom of two boys who is trying her darnedest to get away from processed food! I have fallen in love with this pizza picture and am very interested in your pizza dough recipe/making! Please do share when you get a chance! And thanks for your blog!!

    Sincerely,
    Jean

    • Jean – I am happy to hear that you are taking control of your family’s nutrition and stepping away from the processed stuff. Thanks for admiring my pizza picture, I have been thinking about how to share the recipe and procedure in a way that doesn’t seem overwhelming. My method involves maintaining a sourdough starter although the recipe does include regular yeast as well. I also have a couple of big pizza stones that I keep in the oven to maintain the heat and to bake the pizzas on directly. It sounds complicated but once you get the hang of it, the pizzas are really easy to produce. I will work on sharing the recipe and procedure in the near future :)

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