December 10th, 2008

pizza! pizza! pizza!

pizza 13

is it really worth making your own pizza? i’ve had some friends that have gone completely cold-turkey on places like pizza hut and dominoes and others that just can’t be bothered to go out and get their own ingredients and try it themselves. i’ve also heard arguments over the cost of making your own versus ordering out, and for me, it’s got to come down to taste. i don’t mind shelling about a bit more for a great pizza, and i especially don’t mind shelling out a bit more if i can make it myself. kramer was really onto something.

pizza dough 1

the cost of making your own pizza really balances out when you consider that making dough ahead of time can save you a ton of trouble.  peter reinhart’s dough uses just a few simple ingredients and can keep in your fridge for days or freezer for months so you can whip up a pizza whenever it strikes your fancy. it’s a never-fail dough that handled better than i could have anticipated. plus, you can just empty your cabinets and pile on whatever weird combination of toppings that you’d like without fear of being judged by the delivery guy.

pizza dough 3

the key to homemade pizza is getting the dough to cook quickly and at an extremely high temperature. pizzeria ovens hit 800 F, you can still get a great crust at home. most commercial ovens only reach 500 or 550 F, but using a baking stone or baking tiles definitely helps.

pizza 2

my first pizza attempt included caramelized onions (flavored with a bit of balsamic vinegar), mozzarella and white sauce (recipe below). after it came out of the oven i quickly topped it with fresh arugula. feel free to pile on the greens, as they’ll wilt a bit once they hit the hot pizza.

pizza 4

over the past few years, i’ve really developed a taste for white sauce pizzas over traditional red. i also like my pizzas swimming in mozzarella cheese.

pizza 8

after i added the arugula, i grated some fresh parmesan reggiano that immediately melted into neat little pools of deliciousness. you can also see above where i cut the pizza and sliced directly into my wooden peel. whoops.

pizza 10

pizza number 2 was the same as pizza 1, except i added some crumbled and lightly fried sweet italian sausage. let me just say: BEST PIZZA EVER. since these pizzas, i’ve made 3 more: 1 with sun dried tomato pesto and basil, one with traditional red sauce and lightly fried crispy eggplant, and another with sausage and pineapple. i’m looking forward to trying out squash and bacon as a combo. what are your favorite toppings?

pizza 12

makes 6 medium-sized pizzas. top with anything you can think of! dough from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

4 1/2 cups flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1/4 cup olive oil (optional)
1 3/4 cups water, ice cold
semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting

white sauce (enough for 2 pizzas)
2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp fresh basil, minced
1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese, shredded

1. day one: stir together the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. stir in the oil and cold water with a big spoon until all the flour is absorbed. you may need to keep dipping the spoon in a bowl of ice cold water as you stir so it doesn’t stick. mix for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth and sticky. sprinkle some more flour in as needed. at some point in the mixing, i abandoned the spoon and used my hands to incorporate all of the flour completely.

2. transfer the dough to a floured surface and cut into six equal pieces. line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly oil it. sprinkle a bit of flour on the dough and gnetly shape them into balls. place the dough balls on the sheet pan and slip the whole pan into a large ziploc bag (i had to use one from each end of the pan to cover the whole thing. put the pan in the fridge overnight to rest. they will keep in the fridge for 3 days (or in the freezer for up to 3 months).

3. day two: remove the dough from the fridge 2 hours before making the pizza. dust the counter with flour, place the number of dough balls down you are going to use, and sprinkle with more flour. gently press them into flat disks (about 1/2 inch thick). sprinkle with a bit more flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap. let rest.

4. about 45 minutes before making the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 F (or higher if your oven goes that high) with your baking stone or tiles on the lowest shelf or directly on the floor of the oven. if you don’t have a stone, you can bake on the back of a large baking sheet, but don’t preheat the baking sheet.

5. if you’re going to make white sauce, now is the time. heat the butter in a small saucepan. add the flour flour and stir until thoroughly mixed. slowly whisk in milk, adding gradually. stir in remaining ingredients. the sauce will thicken upon standing.

6. to shape the pizzas, dust a pizza peel or the back of a sheet pan with cornmeal or semolina flour. dip your hands in flour and pick up the dough round. very gently lay the dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion on your hands. keep it across your knuckes and it will slowly stretch as you bounce it. if it sticks, gently put the dough down and reflour your hands. eventually, you can move to a full toss instead of a bounce, and the dough will quickly shape into a large thin round.

7. lay it own the pizza peel or pan and top lightly with your favorite sauces, cheeses, veggies and meats. keep in mind that this is a pretty thin crust, so a little topping goes a long way. slide your pizza from the pizza peel directly onto the hot baking stone or place the sheet pan in the oven and bake for 5-8 minutes. the edges will puff a little bit, darken and crisp up. remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. wait a few minutes for the toppings to set before slicing and serving.

33 Comments for pizza! pizza! pizza! - why not leave some love?

  1. Teri says:

    Love the pictures! Now I’m hungry for some of my favorite pizza in Mill Valley, CA! They have a great Pizza Place there that puts anything on you like… I love caramelized red onions, pinenuts, fresh roma tomatoes and lots of cheeses… Parmesan! Nice post! My pizza comes out too doughy underneath all the good stuff. I’ve just tried it recently, and I’d rather go out.

  2. Kelly says:

    We make our own pizza all the time, but using the Artisan in Five recipe. It’s so-so but that may be because we don’t own a pizza peel and are impatient and usually throw the cold dough on the cold stone and put it into a relatively cold oven.

    Yours look absolutely crispy and delicious though…next time I will have to make mine with a bit more love. (and heat!)

  3. Emily says:

    Oh my goodness. There is the FANTASTIC Italian bakery/deli in Cleveland Park that hand-makes their own mozzarella. I got into making pizza a few months ago and after using their cheese, I absolutely can’t use anything else. It’s amazing. It’s down the block from Yes! Organic Market, Spices, the Pho place and Dino. Absolute perfection!

  4. Adrienne says:

    Pete, your pizza pictures are MUCH prettier than mine ( – I love the light! Kelly, I use that recipe too, and it works great for me, but I do give it plenty of rest and preheat time.

  5. HoneyB says:

    Wow, your pizzas look absolutely yummy! Love the photos, especially that last one!

  6. Christina says:

    Awesome pictures! That’s one of the best recipes I’ve used for pizza dough.

    For me, I don’t mind paying to eat pizza if it’s not the standard pizza chain variety. Sure, I know how to make pizza similarly, but some days I just don’t want to or haven’t planned for it. If that’s the case, I want good pizza!

  7. Angela says:

    Very informative posting! I love your blog. Great stuff. I’m a huge fan of making my own pizza. My favorite topping combo is fresh mozzarella, basil, capers, and pine nuts over fresh slices of tomato. Your pizzas look terrific. Bon appetite!

  8. oh my goodness those pictures make me salivate.
    i make pizza at home, but usually i just use a lebanese pita bread for the base – it goes wonderfully crispy.
    i’d be interested to see how your caramalised onion and white sauce might work on them.

    Pete, i’d like to get myself a pizza stone, got any tips as to what i should be on the look-out for? would i need to spend a small fortune to get something decent, or are they much of a muchness?

  9. PaniniKathy says:

    I really love your flavor combo. I’m on a major caramelized onion kick and I know they’d go well with the spicy sausage and peppery arugula. I could eat pizza every day!

  10. petebakes says:

    @Emily – i’m definitely going to have to check out that mozzarella. i have a feeling it could change my life.

    @Adrienne – your pizzas look delicious! next time i’ll go with mushrooms…

    @the projectivist – you might want to check out a post i did a few weeks ago on baking stones on the cheap – you don’t have to spend a fortune for sure. let me know if you need any other help with it!

  11. Megan says:

    Hi Petebakes,

    I made those evil, evil Peanutbutter Lunchlady things you tweeted about. For shame.

    Like a delicious less sweet Reece’s PB cup.

    I have to give them away…Get them out of the house.

  12. Olga says:

    ooh, we are neighbors.

    anyway, love the idea of the white pizza and arugula: delicious!

  13. Carina says:

    These look so good! Thanks for Peter’s dough recipe…I’ll definitely give it a try. I have only used the dough from Amy’s Breads and that one is tasty. She uses a bit of cornmeal in the dough. Sausage is key:)

  14. Stacy says:

    Looks great! I love the Peter Reinhart dough. And arugula. And cheese. omg.

    For a lazy lunch I made a mini-pizza with arugula a few weeks ago. Try splashing a little balsamic vinegar on top of the arugula and you will die happy.

  15. AmyAnne says:

    Can I say you are inspiring?! Look, I find your blog and in just a few short minutes I am inspired to make homemade pizza for dinner. Turned out wonderful! The dough was so easy and I just used ingredients I had on hand…spinach, roasted garlic and feta. Even the 5 year old liked it!

    Thank you so much…I’m looking forward to more tasty inspirations from you!

  16. Jess says:

    I’m a big fan of making my own dough. I have a recipe that has a little bit of honey in it. It turns out yeasty and really crunchy. I’m a big fan of the ham and pineapple toppings.

  17. After a recent pizza dough failure I found your site. I will be giving your dough a serious shot. We have a great patio brick we use in our oven (yes it was cleaned and only used in our oven or BBQ – standard red paver brick, about 2 inches thick, 16″x16″ if I recall – total cost: under 4 bucks with tax.) Works for breads and stuff fantastic and gets as hot as heck.
    I am on my quest to find 2 perfect pizza’s, one for myself and one for the wife. To be fair though she is a pizza lover and I on the other hand was spoiled once by this wonderful wispy thin cracker like crust with perfectly sweet and tangy sauce just dancing on it, all covered in the most moist and stringy cheese ever. It was like pizza nirvana and ever sense no delivery stuff would do. So now I search.

  18. Marc Marrie says:

    Your pizza looks amazing. Truly beautiful. I’m sure it’s delicious. I will try this the next time I make pizza. Thanks.

  19. Christine says:

    Hold the ny slice.


  20. zio says:

    Pete!! I made the pizza over the weekend and it was sooo good! I made it the exact way you did–white sauce, carmelized onions and all. I saved some of the dough in the freezer, and next time I think I’m going to try a pesto sauce with feta cheese and prosciutto. Thanks!!!

  21. Jaime says:

    Hey Pete! Just found your blog. Lovin it!
    Question, what kind of flour do you use?

  22. May says:

    What kind of yeast did you use? Will Active Dry Yeast work?

  23. […] made our own pizza several times before, each time a little differently. the first time, i was trying out my baking stones, […]

  24. […] New Yorkers and my father loves a good pizza.  I do too.  I had been eying Pete’s recipe (pizza recipe) for homemade dough over at Pete Bakes! for awhile and finally figured I’d give it a try last […]

  25. […] try it again with some changes. I decided to make my own dough, using a recipe that I found on the Pete Bakes blog, originally from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, which, by the way, […]

  26. […] White Pizza Sauce: Recipe found at Pete Bakes! […]

  27. Pizza says:

    […] you are looking for baking with tiles do look up Pete’s post once alongwith the comments – it is worth reading. Closer home, Anu of My Food Blog made a successful attempt with baking […]

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