I am a pizza enthusiast. I love the stuff. It may seem silly to talk about making homemade pizza with some of the best pizza places in the country in our backyard and pizza-by-the-slice places on every corner, but hear me out. Most of us will not be in New Haven forever. For those of us who are imminently graduating and have no idea where we’ll be next year (ahem), there is the possibility that we might end up working in Siberia or Turkmenistan or some other part of the world where pizza isn’t a given. I studied abroad in London last year and was hard pressed to find a good pie. While I’m not opposed to making the trek down to Wooster Square for a slice of Sally’s potato pizza — and if you haven’t, please do before you graduate — sometimes I’m not in the mood for a cold walk and an hours-long wait. Sometimes I want to put on a movie, toss a pizza in the oven and call it a day.
Making pizza isn’t exactly taxing. It takes five minutes to put the dough together, an hour or two to rise and a couple more minutes to roll the dough out and top it. It’s hard to mess up. And since there are a billion variations on crusts and toppings, it’s difficult to get bored with homemade pizza. My friend made a killer pizza this weekend by mixing oregano, garlic, Parmesan and a few tablespoons of whole wheat flour into a standard dough. This New Year’s, I topped a white pizza with shredded zucchini, caramelized onion and ricotta. You get the idea. And since you’re making pizza at home, everyone can top their own pie and no one will berate you for wanting anchovies. On everything. Plus, for those of us still working on the whole “getting a job after college” thing, homemade pizza is pretty darn cheap.
Homemade Pizza Dough: The Basics
Although I’m a Midwesterner, I’ve always been partial to thin crust pizza. This recipe makes enough dough for a good-sized pie. Double the amount if you’d like a more bready, Chicago-style pizza.
2 cups all-purpose flour (can substitute up to 1 cup whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2/3 cup lukewarm water, plus more if necessary
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt and yeast. Slowly stir in the water and olive oil. Once you’ve formed a rough dough, turn the bowl over onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for a minute or two until it comes together into a smooth ball, adding a little extra water if necessary.
Place the ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat with oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for an hour or two, until doubled in bulk.
Place the dough onto the floured counter, lightly pressing the air out with your hands and shaping the dough back into a ball. Cover the ball with plastic wrap and allow to rise on the counter for another twenty minutes. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.
Roll out the dough, add toppings and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet (sprinkled with cornmeal, if you like). Bake pizza for approximately 10 minutes.
Make pizza dough as above. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Divide the dough into four pieces. Roll each piece into a round. Place about 1/2 cup of desired filling in the center of each round (note: if you are using vegetables, cook them first; otherwise they will release liquid as they bake and your calzones will be soggy). Fold the dough in half and seal the edges together. Starting from one end of the calzone, stretch the sealed edge outward as you pinch and roll it to form a rope. Place the calzones on an oiled baking sheet and bake until golden and puffed, about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly on the sheet before serving.