A casual trip down the frozen food aisle of any American supermarket or a few minutes of watching network television will show you that we love pizza in the U.S. My family’s no different. However, we’re no longer fetched by TV commercials, Domino’s blandishments, or chichi artisan pizzas that cost fifteen dollars for a burnt flatbread with goat cheese and arugula, because I make delicious pizzas to our taste about once a week. And it’s very easy to do.
|Mise en place|
|It will look like this after twenty seconds or so|
|Dough coming together|
|It will look a lot like this|
|Before the rise|
If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit 45 minutes before you plan to bake. If you don’t have a pizza stone, put a cookie sheet into the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit 30 minutes before you plan to bake. If your oven’s temperature goes higher, take it to 550 or as high as it will go. You want that oven very hot.
|Tripled in size|
|The dough on the oiled paper on the peel|
Rub your hands on the oiled paper to get them slick and press the dough out into a rough pizza shape with your fingertips. It doesn’t have to be perfectly round. I occasionally get them into that perfect circle shape, but it’s not a big deal when I don’t. This is a homemade pizza, not a professional one. The imperfection makes it yours. Once the dough starts to really resist shaping, leave it alone for ten minutes to let the gluten in the dough relax.
|Saucy dough – yes, it’s coming off the paper a little at the bottom there|
|Two minutes into the oven, and the bubbles are getting bigger|
Get your cheese and toppings ready, and after that 6 or 7 minutes, open the oven and top the pizza. There will be a good bit of steam that escapes from both the baking pizza dough and the sauce, and it’ll be very hot, but if you top the pizza quickly, it’s not a bad experience. Just don’t burn yourself.
|Nascent pizza ready to be topped|
|Topped and ready for final baking|
Bake for another 7 or 8 minutes, or until the crust gets golden brown and the cheese is melted. The parchment paper will darken but not ignite. Probably. It never has with me, and I’ve done this in several different kitchens. Still, be careful.
|Done and out of the oven – note the char|
|A slice – the air bubbles in the crust give it flavor|