My 3-year-old granddaughter Lia loves to help bake. She has a felt toy pretend pizza she enjoys serving so I thought she would like to make a real pizza. It was a hit! Pizza for lunch, what could be better? She found placing the toppings to be a challenge. She kept putting all the olives and bacon into little piles instead of spreading them around the dough. After awhile she got the hang of it.
For many years I’ve made fresh crust pizza every Saturday night. My husband’s favorite meal, and now Lia’s favorite–it might be genetic! No store-bought or take-away pie can compare to fresh, homemade pizza. The grease and salt content can be controlled. The toppings and ingredients can be as healthy as possible. It’s hard to find those choices with commercial pizza.
For meat toppings I use uncured bacon and ham, no nitrates or nitrites. Pre-cooked bacon lowers the fat content. The pizza sauce is organic and the dough is whole wheat using white wheat flour. Low moisture mozzarella cheese is the secret for good body. Inexpensive cheese can ruin a pizza. My current baking pans are aerated with tiny holes to help crisp the under side of the crust.
Pizza must be baked in a very hot oven. I’ve had success with setting the oven at 535-540 F. The crust is crisped and the toppings are done to perfection in 10 minutes. Bake in the center of the oven. Use the higher temperature setting if the pizza is loaded with toppings.
1 cup whole wheat flour (I use white whole wheat)
1 to 2 cups regular all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use the low sodium version)
1 tablespoon fast rising yeast (bread machine)
1 cup warm water (120 F)
2 tablespoons light olive oil
Heat water to 120 F, or in most microwaves for 1 minute until steam is barely rising and water is quite warm but not scalding hot. Sift whole wheat and one cup of regular flour into a large mixing bowl. Stir in salt and yeast. Add water and oil. Mix until dough thickens and pulls away from the edges of the bowl. Sprinkle on 1/2 cup regular flour. Knead the flour in adding up to 1/2 cup as required to work the dough, until elastic and smooth. I knead right in the bowl, using the trough method.
Cover and let rest in a warm place for 10 minutes. Spread the dough on a well-oiled pizza pan. Do this by gently pressing the dough with the hands. No throwing and twirling of the dough overhead is required. This recipe will make one 16″ regular crust pizza or two 14″ thin-crust pizzas. Let rise in a warm place for 1/2 hour.
Heat oven to 535-540 F. While oven heats, top pizza with sauce, cheese and favorite meats and veggies. Bake for 10 minutes, or until crust has browned at the edges and cheese is bubbling and beginning to lightly brown. Let the pizza cool for a couple minutes before cutting.