By Grace Strahan
Before reading this, yes, I am aware that there is such a thing as take out. Homemade pizza has become at staple at our home regardless of ready-made options. I cook it usually once a week. My love affair with pizza began a long time ago. It was one of the first things I learned to cook, and it has become a comfort food that I still enjoy cooking.
Momma gave me this little paper back â€śMy First Cookbookâ€ť with simple recipes. Inside was a recipe for pizza constructed of an English Muffin or Bread, pizza sauce and shredded cheese. With a little help from my mom getting this in and out of the oven, I could make my own pizza.
Learning how to cook is a happy childhood memory, and I enjoy sharing this with others. When my cousin still lived in Aliceville, she and her family came over for dinner one weekend. Knowing that most all kids like pizza and need to be entertained when at someoneâ€™s house for dinner, I planned for them to make their own little pizzas in small cake pans. They patted out their ball of dough and make it just the way each of them wanted.
Over time, I have played with a variety of pizza recipes for crust and topping combinations. One reason I think we have pizza so often is that homemade pizza can be constructed from so many different combinations. I like barbeque chicken pizza with jalapenos. Weâ€™ve had taco pizza with refried beans, salsa and cheese topped at the end with lettuce and tomatoes. My favorite is just plain cheese pizza with red pepper flakes and mushrooms. You can make it healthy or downright sinful.
I usually start my crust in the morning. Its quick work and pizza staples are easy to keep on hand. Really all you need are sauce and cheese. Let your taste buds guide your topping choices and you will have a mealtime winner every time.
Simple Pizza Crust
1 cup of warm water
2 teaspoons of dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 generous pinch of salt â€” 2 if you like
3 cups of flour (you can use plain white or a 50/50 mixture of white and wheat)
Begin with water, yeast and sugar in a bowl. Stir to dissolve and allow to proof for about 5 minutes. Add one cup of flour, salt and oil. Begin to stir in your flour 1/2 cup at a time. Depending on the humidity you may need more or less flour. When you dough has come together and taken shape (no longer sticky), turn onto a floured surface and begin to knead for 5 minutes. You may need to add additional flour. However, you want your dough to be soft. Be careful not to add too much flour. This is why you should add it a little at a time.
Turn into an oiled bowl and cover in a draft free and warm spot until doubled in size. You can allow your dough to sit all day.
When you are ready to cook, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Spread your dough into your pan and add your toppings. I like to add sauce, half of my cheese, toppings, and the remainder of my cheese in that order. Bake until golden and bubbling. Allow cooling for a few minutes before cutting.
Email Grace Strahan at gstrahan@SynergeticsDCS.com.
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