My friend Katie once told me that she makes homemade pizza or calzones for her husband and son (soon to be two sons!) every Friday night. At first I thought she was crazy to go to all that trouble every week. Then she passed her pizza dough recipe and pizza sauce recipe on to me and let me just say….wow. This is some of the best pizza I have ever tasted. Since I started making this recipe a few months ago I haven’t ordered a take-out pizza since! I will explain the dough recipe here in Part I and then the sauce recipe in Part II.
Makes enough for six calzones, two thick crust pizzas, three thin crust pizzas or one giant pizza in a jelly roll pan.
1 ½ cups warm water (105-115 degrees F)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 packages dry yeast (or 4 ½ teaspoons yeast)
4 ½ cups all purpose or bread flour
Combine water, oil, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over water mixture and stir until dissolved. Using paddle attachment or spoon, gradually add flour, mixing well after each addition.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface (or switch to dough hook if using a stand mixer) and knead until smooth and elastic. When using a stand mixer this will take approximately 12-15 minutes and the dough will come together into a ball in the center of the bowl. If kneading by hand it will take longer. Shape the dough into a smooth ball and place in a large greased bowl, turning once to grease the top.
Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for approximately one hour or until doubled in size. TIP: set the bowl on top of a smaller bowl filled with warm water. When the hour is almost up, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. When you remove the dough from the bowl after it has risen it will deflate a bit. This is okay.
For pizza: If making two or three pizzas, cut dough apart into two or three sections. For the giant pizza, spread the entire dough ball out into a greased jelly roll pan. For two or three pizzas spread one section of dough into a greased pizza pan or pizza stone. Bake the dough alone in the pan for five minutes at 450 degrees F. This is called “dry baking”. Remove from oven, top with sauce and toppings of your choice and return to oven and bake for 12-15 more minutes.
For calzones: Separate dough into six sections. Roll or pat each section into a circle. Fill half of the circle with topping of your choice. Fold the other half of the circle over to cover the toppings and pinch the sides shut. Cut a few air slots in the top of each calzone. Bake for 12-15 minutes on a cookie sheet at 450 degrees F. Crust will be golden brown. Serve with sauce.
What I do to make the crust extra yummy is to brush the outside crust of the pizza or the entire top of the calzone with olive oil, then sprinkle with kosher salt and Italian seasoning.
These calzones freeze very well. On a Saturday you could make a batch of calzones and then individually wrap and freeze them and use them for lunches or dinners for the following week or two. When I make this recipe I usually make one thick crust pizza and 3 calzones. I eat the pizza immediately for dinner and freeze all the calzones and take them for lunch.
So is it worth it? It depends. If you view pizza as a convenience food then no, this recipe is not worth it for you. It takes a lot more time to make homemade pizza than to go pick up a pizza or wait for delivery. However if you have extra time and want to save money then homemade pizza is definitely worth it for you. One batch of dough maybe costs a dollar when you add up all the ingredients and depending on the size of your family you can get more than one meal out of it. When you add in the toppings and the sauce it might not be much cheaper than the $5 carry-out pizza from Little Caesars, but let me tell you the quality will be much greater!
The other part about homemade pizza that I really like is that I can customize the toppings for each person I’m serving. Same for calzones. I’ve served “build-your-own” calzones at several dinners for family and friends and people really enjoy getting to make their own personal, customized calzone.
Stay tuned for Part II – The SAUCE!