How to Make Perfect Homemade Pizza

I was recently asked by a friend what my "secret" was to homemade pizza and I had to laugh at the thought of holding some magical potion to the perfect pizza.  But when I got to thinking about it, I have been making pizza for a couple of years and I have learned a lot, trying to perfect a proper cooking method so that everything comes out cooked correctly and delicious. 

We make pizza for ourselves a lot and I also often serve it when we have guests!  Everyone always says it is delicious!  No complaints yet!

My first advice is to invest in a bread maker.  Ours is a Cuisinart bread maker that we got as a wedding gift {and I believe was told that they bought it at Costco}.  I find people don't consider a bread maker worth the investment, but if you plan on making pizza regularly I think it is.  I definitely do not make bread very often in it {just a few times a year} but when I do it is so nice and easy!

B.M. {before marriage} I used to buy store bought dough that usually required the dough to rise for a little bit before cooking.  For some reason I could never get it right and I would often have to put the pizza back in the oven because the dough didn't get cooked all the way through.  Dough was also often put in the freezer because it wouldn't get cooked soon enough, adding another factor to getting less than perfect cooked pizza dough.

The bread maker takes care of all of the dough making and rising steps but it has also taken some time to figure out when the perfect time was to start making the dough.  I usually try to get the dough going by 3:00 pm so that we can eat any time between 5:00-6:00 pm.  This gives the dough plenty of time to do it's thing {about 1.5-2 hours} and I leave the dough in the maker until I am ready to make the pizza.  By making the dough close to cooking time and keeping it warm in the maker, it is easier to stretch out the dough while it is still warm.  Rolling out cold dough is not fun.

Just over the past few months, I started the tradition that every Friday night is pizza night.  This has actually eased up my weekly cooking and shopping schedules.  We always have on hand the ingredients and if we end up going out, no extra food was bought to sit and wait for another day.  Plus my husband looks forward to it now!  Fun, right!?

Since I am making it all the time, I decided to write my pizza dough recipe on the chalkboard in our kitchen so I don't have to get my recipe out every time.  My goal is to have it memorized one of these days!

I also bought extra measuring spoons and cups to put in the containers of ingredients.  This way the scoop is already ready and makes the process even easier!  It's those little things that save so much time and make life so much happier!

Of all the cooking pans I have tried I like using the Silpat mats along with the Demarle perforated baking sheets {use these two things for everything!}.  Now, let me warn you, this stuff is a bit pricey...but you can tell the difference.  My mother in law gifted me mine and she has some of Demarle's other products {like the cupcake/muffin mold} and I can honestly say that it produces some of the best cupcakes ever...even with a box mix!  But you can pick up Silpat mats at most kitchen stores and I hear other brands of silicone mats work pretty good as well on a regular cookie sheet.  

I used to use Pampered Chef baking stones but I found that it was not creating as crispy of a crust.  So I got rid of all of them in my continued attempts to declutter...and thankfully made a few bucks off of them on Craigslist. :) 

When I lay out the dough, I stretch the dough out with my hands.  The dough seems to stretch out easier than rolling and this way there is no flour mess!  Win win! 

I also can my own sauce.  When we run out, I buy a couple of cans of tomatos and make a big batch to can.  I usually include a combination of the following:

-Italian seasoning
-Any fresh or frozen herbs or veggies I might have around {basil, cilantro, garlic, onion}
-Splenda {or sugar} for sweetness...this makes a huge difference and I prefer my sauce sweet
-Salt and pepper
-Sometimes I will throw in some tomato paste or canned tomato sauce if I have it and need to get rid of it or am short on tomatoes

We use tomato sauce a lot so it has become a staple to always have around and not have to worry about picking some up at the store.  Plus I feel so much better knowing I made it myself and know exactly what is going into it.

So this is where I stopped taking pictures because it was dark and I forgot come dinner time.  But a little more info about the pizza...

I recently started putting the sauce on the dough...then the cheese...then the toppings.  And it makes a huge difference!  The cheese melting into the sauce and dough make it soft and really is amazing.  And sometimes I add a little cheese on top of the toppings as well if I am feeling extra cheesy!

I cook my pizza at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes and it is perfect!  I used to be afraid to cook the pizza at such a high temperature but with the fresh dough and ingredients it cooks so much better for a shorter time at a high temp.  Plus I can leave the pizza out until my husband gets home from work and don't have to worry about cold cooked pizza or having to wait for a long time for it to cook.

When you make pizza at home, I think it can be really healthy!  I load ours with veggies {chopped up really small so no picky eaters can pick them off!} and sometimes I hide extra veggies in the sauce.  We usually put turkey pepperoni on our pizza but sometimes change it up with chicken.  Some lean protein, vegetables, whole wheat dough...and you have yourself a well rounded healthy pizza night!

Do you have any homemade pizza secrets?  Or do you prefer take out?

Noonday earring giveaway still going on!  Feel free to enter and send me the earrings if you win!  {wink}