I have spent over half my life perfecting my pizza recipe-no joke…so this post is going to be a fun one.
A little known fact is, my kids dad (and his family) owned a little pizza shop in Western Hill, which was known for its Italian-style, homemade ‘za. This is where we met (as I joked – I ordered a pizza and got a husband) but of course it wasn’t long before I was “pulled into the family business”. Briefly, nonetheless…but still it was a lot of fun. And even though we are not married anymore and his family sold the business many years ago (and it is still operating as an independent pizza chain), my love for pizza only grew.
Pizza was the quintessential Friday night supper with my busy household. When the kids were smaller, I would typically do delivery, because I worked a lot of hours and life was crazy. But when I joined Little Caesars as a Franchise Development Manager, this re-engaged my love for fresh ingredients and making dough from scratch. I mean, part of the reason why I joined the brand was that the dough was made fresh in house and the cheese and sauce was never frozen. I loved listening to franchise owners talk about their perfect dough preparation process, and soon after, would go home and experiment with my own recipes and was once again, playing in the kitchen with pizza.
In my travels I have experienced pizza from Chicago, LA, New York and Europe, and each region definitely has a different flavour profile. I haven’t been lucky enough to travel to other regions such as Italy yet, but it is on the bucket list, for sure.
My point is, whether it is deep dish, oven baked, thin crust or wood-oven cooked, recreating my favourite pizza pies from my travels has been kinda a side project and passion.
So, without further adieu, here are some pics of my favourite pizzas I have recreated for my family to enjoy:
- Pulled Jackfruit, Pineapple, Spanish Onion and spicy tomato sauce Za on a bread-style dough crust
2. Roasted eggplant, pepper, tomato and feta Za on a thin crust dough
3. Arugula, roasted golden beet, pesto and goat cheese Za drizzled with aged balsamic on traditional crust
4. Traditional Greek Style Pizza done “pan style”
So, what makes a great pizza? Here are some basic tips when preparing to make your next amazing recipe:
Whether you are using quick-rise yeast or traditional, proof it properly by making sure the water is not so hot that it is uncomfortable to your skin. Temp should be about 110 degrees F, any hotter or colder you have literally just ruined the whole process.
Quick-rise yeast is good in a pinch but does typically yield a more bread-like dough. I can get it fluffier and more like a traditional crust by adding some good quality EVOO and a pinch of sugar to my proofing. This seems to activate it further. Also, I like to let it rest to double for about a half hour to 45 minutes, punch down, gently stretch and then let rest on the pan again.
Working the Dough
Whether you are hand-stretching or using a rolling pin, never ever over work your dough. Think of it like skin-stretch it too much it will just end up saggy, limp and not really that attractive as a base for your amazing toppings. using a two-finger method and gently stretching, or rolling on a lightly floured surface, just be gentle. Also, once rolled out and set in your pan, please for the love of pizza, let your dough rise. Also, don’t even bother trying to stretch a cold dough puck. 🙂
Quality, quality, quality
When it comes to toppings, the quality of them is paramount in your Za prep. This means high-quality mozzarella that is a BLEND of partly skim and higher-fat cheeses, and also for fewer blisters, combine with provolone or even a smoked cheddar for a unique flavour profile.
On the topic of quality, for the love of god, please make your own pizza sauce. The canned, tinny-tasting version is just not worth it and ruins all the above work and effort.
Here is a great pizza sauce recipe I love:
- 2 tblsp high quality EVOO
- 1/2 C minced onion
- 1 tsp celery seed
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flake
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp fennel seed
- 1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 tblsp grated fresh parm
- 1 tblsp fresh chopped basil
- 1 tsp fresh chopped oregano
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 jar of passata or, 7-8 large, firm tomatoes, chopped
- tomato paste, as required
In a large skillet, saute onion and garlic. add tomato or tomato passata and stir until blended. Cook for five minutes then add all remaining ingredients. (puree at this stage if using chopped tomatoes)
Cook for 45 minutes on low and up to 1 hour to reduce the pizza sauce, while adding tomato paste sparingly and as needed.