802Projects

802Projects Pizza 101

You probably did not expect to find a page about pizza on my website, but here we are. I have been experimenting making my own pizza over the last few years and I need a spot to share what I've learned. I'm here to tell you that once you start making your own dough, you'll never buy store bought again. You don't need special flour, expensive cheese or a scale to measure everything. Store brand products are fine and you can measure everything in cups, teaspoons and tablespoons. Hell you can eyeball stuff and it will come out just fine. Pizza does not have to be perfect. Mix and match it however you like. Chances are it will still come out better than you think.

Crust

I'm going to share 2 different crust recipes that I use. The first one I'll use if I want to make a normal pizza for the oven. I'll also use it for my outside pizza oven. The second recipe I'll use if I'm making a slightly thicker Detroit or Pizza Hut style pizza. A lot of videos online recommend refrigerating the dough overnight. In theory it allows the yeast to interact longer and develop more flavors. I never do that, but you are welcome to try it.

Normal Crust

- 1 tbsp sugar- 2 tbsp olive oil- 1 tsp salt
- 1 packet instant yeast- 2 cups flour
- 3/4 cups warm water- 1/2 cup corn meal

  1. Combine warm water, yeast packet, and sugar in a cup. You want the water warm to activate the yeast, but not too hot to kill it. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes. You should see yeast start to activate. (see photo below)
  2. In a bowl (I use a kitchenaide) add the flour, corn meal, and salt
  3. Start mixing and pour in the water/yeast mixture. While mixing add the olive oil
  4. Mix for a few minutes until a ball starts to form
  5. Remove the dough from the bowl and while holding it in your hand, pour a little olive oil into the bowl and spread it around the bottom with your other hand
  6. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a kitchen towel or cerarm wrap
  7. Let dough rise for about an hour at room temperature.

If I'm making dough for my outdoor pizza oven I'll split the dough in half and spread it out thin to make two 13" pizzas. I use a wooden pizza peel and I'll flour it well so the pizza can slide off it easily. The pizza will cook at 600 degrees for a few minutes. I'll use an aluminum pizza turner to spin it as it cooks. When removing it from the oven I use the same tuner to pull it back onto the wooden peel where I'll slice it up. Some people recommend an aluminum peel to remove it from the oven, but that would be just one more thing to wash. Plus you can't cut the pizza on an aluminum peel. Sometimes I'll even substitute the 3/4 cups of warm water for 1/2 cup of water plus 1/4 cup of craft beer. This is a good way to give the crust a little more flavor and a good excuse to drink the rest of the can.

If I'm using the dough for an indoor oven pizza, I don't split the dough in half. I'll make one big pizza. You can use a pizza stone in the oven, or a metal pan, or a flat cast pan. I personally use a metal pan and rub some olive oil on it to keep it from sticking. I use the bottom rack for ~16-17 minutes at 450 degrees. Half way I'll rotate it around as the back of my oven seems to cook hotter than the front.

Detroit or Pizza Hut Style Crust

- 1.5 tsp sugar- 2 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil- 1 tsp salt
- 1 packet instant yeast- 2 cups flour
- 3/4 cups warm water

  1. Combine warm water, yeast packet, and sugar in a cup. You want the water warm to activate the yeast but not too hot to kill it. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes. You should see yeast start to activate.
  2. In a bowl (I use a Kitchenaide) add the flour, and salt
  3. Start mixing and pour in the water/yeast mixture. While mixing add the olive/vegetable oil.
  4. Mix for a few minutes until a ball starts to form
  5. In a 9"x13" cast iron pan, pour in some olive/vegetable oil. Don't skimp out. You want to lather the bottom and sides of it well. Use your hands so the dough won't stick to them in the next step.
  6. The dough will be really stick. Remove it from the bowl and place it into the pan. Stretch it out some to form a small rectangle in the center. It won't stretch to the edges yet. (see photo below)
  7. Cover the pan with another pan, and let dough rise for about an hour at room temperature. Then continue stretching/poking it to the edges of the pan.

If I am making Detroit style I'll use olive oil. If I'm making a Pizza Hut style, I'll use vegetable oil. When cooking I'll do 470 for ~ 17 minutes on the bottom rack. Detroit I may leave in a few extra minutes so the edge cheese starts to blacken.

Sauce

The only sauce I make myself is tomato based sauce. If you are new to pizza making, maybe just buy store bought sauce initially. When I make a batch of sauce I'll freeze some of it for later. I divide it equally into 6 clear plastic containers. This way I can just unthaw and use what I need. I actually use containers that Chinese Food joints give you duck sauce in. I just gave you an excuse to get some general Tso chicken and crab ragoons. You're welcome.

- 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes- 1 tsp salt- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp oregano - 1 tsp basil- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 3 tsp minced garlic (or 3 cloves)- 1/2 tsp sugar- 1 tsp onion flakes

  1. In a big saucepan start with melting the butter on medium heat. Use a pan with tall walls as the sauce likes to splatter when simmering
  2. Once the butter melts add the minced garlic.
  3. Then add the sauce and everything else. I always use a heaping teaspoon. That means don't scrap the top of the teaspoon. Leave the mound
  4. Let it simmer for at least 15 minutes. Stir occasionally

If I know I'll be using the sauce to make Detroit style pizza I'll usually add 1 sp of garlic power too. I'll also let it simmer maybe 20-25 minutes so it is a little thicker. Basically thick enough where I can drag a spatula in the pan and see the bottom of the pan behind it. When I make it thicker I divide it into 5 containers instead of 6.

Pizza Assembly and Toppings

This is where the magic happens. We have 2 types of crust and an endless amount of toppings. I'll go over a few of my favorites.

Normal Pizza or Pizza Hut style

Apply the sauce onto the dough, add some shredded mozzarella cheese, and whatever toppings you want (pepperoni, onions, peppers etc...). After applying the toppings I usually sprinkle some parmesan on too. The stuff that comes in the green plastic container.

Detroit Style

Apply the toppings first. For me this is a layer of pepperoni. Then add the cheese next being sure to apply a good coating right around the edges. We want that cheese to char around the edges. I use Mozzarella, but real Detroit uses Wisconsin "Brick Cheese". Someday I'm going to buy some to try. After the cheese apply 2-3 rows of sauce. I will add a few more pepperonis on top of the sauce rows too. Like all pizzas I make, I sprinkle on some parmesan to finish it.

Specialty Pizza

I typically only do specialty pizzas in my outdoor pizza oven. This would be for when friends come over and we want a variety of pizzas. Instead of using red marinara sauce we just spread on some store bought ranch, buffalo or BBQ sauce. Then top it with some mozzarella and toppings (chicken, bacon, ham etc...). One time we used gravy and added some french fries. Go crazy.

Breakfast Pizza

My hometown had a Deli that made the best breakfast pizza. I've been trying to recreate it, and it's pretty close. Use the normal cornmeal crust from up above. Add thinly sliced onions, and green peppers directly on top of it. The deli would use a meat slicer to slice them. Chop up some bacon (I use an entire precooked box that has 15 thin strips in it) and spread it on top. Then add shredded mozzarella. Crack 4 eggs into a bowl and stir them up as if you were going to scramble them. Add some pepper to the egg mixture and 1-2 tbsp of olive oil. Now starting in the center of the pizza, pour the raw egg mixture onto the pizza in an outward spiral. Sprinkle on some parmesan. Cook in an oven at 450.

If you try any of these recipes out, let me know what you think. Don't be afraid to experiment. I've been trying to perfect an Unos deep dish style. When I do I'll post it here.