If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you already know that I make homemade pizza at least once a week. Every Friday evening, we have “pizza and a movie night” and, every Friday, I make the pizzas for it. In the last three years, I think we’ve gotten pizza “out” maybe twice. Once, I was really, really sick. The other? I had a free coupon. Other than that, I make it.
I really don’t mind. Pizza is actually very simple to make and doing it yourself makes it wonderfully customizable. I love that! Since we are at the point where we need one medium (14″) and one large (16″) pizza to feed our crew, it’s much more cost-effective to DIY, that’s for sure.
But maybe you’ve never made your own pizza. Perhaps it just seems daunting, what-with all the dough-making, rising, spreading, sauce-prep, shredding, slicing, etc.
I hear you.
But fear not! You CAN make homemade pizza, even if you’ve never worked with yeast and even if you have very little “free” time to be making your own meals.
Here are some tips, cheats, and short-cuts to make pizza-making as painless as possible for you:
1. Let go of rise-time obsession.
Let me tell you this– pizza dough is highly forgiving. Really. It’s one of the few yeast-based doughs that I make that I feel is very flexible. Let is rise for an hour? Great. Twenty minutes? Perfect. Overnight? Delicious. Skip the rise? STILL GOOD. By it’s very nature, it doesn’t need to get all high and airy, so you don’t need to commit to being at its beck and call. You can make this recipe and just let it rise for whatever fits with your schedule– even no time at all.
2. Be sauce flexible.
I make a specific pizza sauce recipe in bulk and then freeze weekly portions. I do that because I know I’ll be making pizza every week. That said, I’ve used other things for sauce, too. Jarred pizza sauce? That’ll work. Spaghetti sauce? Still tasty. No Italian-type sauces around? No problem. Taco sauce, salsa, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, etc. all make flavorful base sauces for a pizza. Don’t go crazy simmering tomatoes down all day, unless you want to. Keep it simple.
3. Easy peasy cheesy.
Shredding cheese is in no way difficult. Still, it can be time-consuming and it dirties yet one more thing for you to have to wash. Sometimes that’s all it takes to make something very unattractive.
Feel free to buy and use pre-shredded cheese. Even the kinds with the “anti-caking” stuff on it will still melt up nicely. Honestly, the odds are very good that your local pizza parlor uses that kind of cheese. So there’s no need to be a hero about it.
Alternatively, let your food processor help you out and do bulk shredding. It’s still homemade, even if you let a machine do the grunt work.
4. Don’t fret the pan.
Guess what? Pizzas don’t have to be round. They also don’t have to be baked on specific “pizza pans.” A cookie sheet, jelly roll pan, cast iron skillet, or cake pan will work just fine. Cake pans are fun, actually, because you can make more of a deep-dish “pan” pizza that way. Don’t let your lack of a pizza pan keep you from trying your hand at pizza.
While we’re on this topic, you also don’t need a pizza cutter to slice pizza. A knife or kitchen shears will do the job nicely. Don’t go buying a bunch of extra stuff unless you decide you want to.
5. Top wisely.
So you’ve made your dough. You’ve spread it on the pan. You’ve got your sauce ready. The cheese is shredded. Now… what should you top it with?
If you’re anxious about this process and/or you really need to save time, go for easy. There are toppings you can buy that require absolutely no additional work from you. Some off the top of my head? Sliced pepperoni. Sliced mushrooms. Diced ham. Salad shrimp. Plus all the other pre-cooked and prepped meats and veggies out there. (Be forewarned that some of them are very pricey, though.) Anyway, take it easy on yourself. Get some stuff that doesn’t require cooking, slicing, or dicing and just slap it on there.
Making homemade pizza is not difficult. That’s what I really want you to know. Even if you’ve never made homemade bread, never made your own tomato sauce, and never owned special equipment– you can TOTALLY make homemade pizza tonight.
So what’s stopping you?
Any lingering questions or concerns about trying your hand at pizza? Leave ‘em here and I (or a wise reader) will almost certainly be able to assuage any fears you might have.