I rarely order pizza from the local pizzeria anymore. There are so many reasons to make it at home:
--It’s easy and more economical;
--You can make it just the way you like, thin or fat crust, lots or little sauce, lots of little cheese, extra toppings or not;
--Kids are drawn into the kitchen like magnets, hoping to stretch the dough, spread the sauce, or sprinkle the cheese;
--It’s as fast as picking up the phone and waiting for the deliveryman to arrive;
--The house is filled with the sweet, yeasty aroma of bread baking;
--It’s fun to crouch in front of the oven door, waiting for just the right moment when the cheese is browned and bubbly and it’s ready to be pulled out.
Kids who come over my house rave about the pizza, and their mothers have often asked me how I make this pizza. It’s simple. I use items from the local grocery store – premade pizza dough, premade tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese.
Are there any secrets? I suppose I have several: 1) Definitely use a pizza stone, 2) let the dough rest on the counter for about 20 minutes so the gluten can relax and the dough can be more readily shaped, 3) Don’t use a rolling pin (if you want air bubbles in your crust) but stretch the dough with your hands, 4) after your pizza dough is shaped into a disk, brush the dough with olive oil (this creates a barrier between the dough and the tomato sauce, and keeps the dough from getting soggy), and 5) to remove any anxiety of shaking the pizza from the peel to the stone and eliminate the use of messy cornmeal as the "ball bearings" under the dough to help move the dough off the peel, use parchment paper to move your pizza from your pizza peel (or back of baking sheet) to the stone. You can still use cornmeal to dust the top of your parchment paper if you like a little more crunch.
Premade pizza dough from the grocery store (my store stocks it in a refrigerated case by the bakery section, along with store-made tomato pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese)
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper
Parmigiano reggiano cheese
Take the dough out of the oven and let it rest on the counter for about 20 minutes.
Put the pizza stone on the middle rack and heat your oven to 450 or 475 degrees, depending on how hot your oven runs.
Pull off a sheet of parchment paper that’s about as big as your pizza peel or a little bigger than the back of your baking sheet.
When the dough has rested, spread a little flour on your counter and flatten the ball of dough into a round shape. Pick it up and start stretching the dough from the middle. If it’s resistant to stretching, let it rest some more. As you’re stretching it, you can let the dough hang vertically and keep rotating it, letting gravity help the dough stretch. You can also lay it back on the counter and push the dough outward, shaping it into a round disk. Try to keep the dough evenly stretched throughout. If it’s too thin in some places, pull some dough back into that area.
When it’s as big as you like it, fold it in half and transfer it to your parchment paper-covered peel. Unfold it and do a final shaping.
With a brush or a back of a spoon, spread a thin layer of olive oil over the dough surface. Grate or sprinkle parmesan cheese over the surface. Add a little salt and pepper.
Spread a layer of tomato sauce on the pie, any toppings you like, and then add the mozzarella cheese. Add a little more parmesan if desired.
When the oven is heated, transfer the pizza to the stone. Cook 10-12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly and browned.
Using the parchment paper, transfer the pizza to a cutting board and remove the parchment paper. Cut into slices and enjoy.