Friday, February 24, 2012

Pizza - Made even better with Homemade Sauce and Dough

Pizza sauce and dough are two of the simplest things to prepare at home and both can be made in advance. The dough can be made in the food processor and stored in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready. The pizza sauce goes together in under 45 minutes and also freezes well. There’s just no excuse not to make your own.

Oddly enough the best pizza I ever tasted was in a tiny restaurant in Salzburg, Austria many years ago. It was topped with sliced fresh tomatoes, which came as a surprise to me. I almost always use fresh tomatoes now. That particular pizza also omitted the traditional red tomato sauce, but I’ve used a little of a homemade sauce on my pizza today. Feel free to omit it. It’s delicious with or without the sauce.

For the dough I’ve used rapid-rise yeast. It’s a time saver because it is a strain of yeast that doesn’t need to be dissolved separately in liquid and the dough only needs to rest 10 minutes instead of the traditional one to two hours to rise.

Here are some tips from Wolfgang Puck for making pizza:

- Always bake in a hot, hot oven.
- Be sure to sprinkle your work surface with flour or cornmeal so your dough doesn’t stick.
- Brush dough with olive oil before adding toppings to avoid sogginess.

Quick-rising Pizza Dough in the Food Processor
Makes two 12” crusts
Printable Recipe

2 cups all purpose white flour
2 packages Rapid-Rise yeast
½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large-capacity food processor, combine 1 cup flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Heat ¾ cup water and the oil to 125 to 130 degrees F. With the motor running, slowly pour in the hot liquid through the feed tube. Process, adding up to 1 tablespoons of cold water if needed to make the dough form a ball, then process for 1 minute to knead. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead about 9 to 10 times, then cover with plastic wrap and let rest 10 minutes.

Dough can be made ahead, punched down, dusted with flour and wrapped with plastic wrap and stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature before using. Dough can also be frozen in plastic bags, defrosted overnight in the refrigerator, and then brought to room temperature before using.

Tossing the dough in the air is one of the fun parts of making your own dough. Here I am learning how to toss the dough from a friend of ours at his house. You can probably tell by the look on my face that I was a little afraid of dropping it. It always helps to have someone cheer you on and encourage you when trying something new.

Basic Pizza Sauce
Yield 4 cups, enough for four 12” pizzas
Printable Recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 - 28oz cans Italian peeled tomatoes, drained and crushed (save liquid)
4 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
Pinch of ground allspice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pinch of hot pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Splash of red wine if desired

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the onions and cook over low heat to wilt. Add the garlic and cook a minute or two longer, taking care not to let the garlic burn. Add remaining ingredients (except parsley) including the liquid from the tomatoes. Stir well, cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove the lid, add the chopped parsley and wine if using, then simmer an additional 15 minutes or until the sauce is fairly thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, cool, and refrigerate (or freeze).

Fresh Tomato and Basil Pizza
Serves 3 to 4
Printable Recipe

Dough for a 12” pizza, brought to room temperature if it has been refrigerated
Corn meal for preparing baking sheet or pizza stone
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ to ¾ cup pizza sauce (optional)
½ cup grated fresh imported Parmesan cheese (not the stuff in the green can), divided
2 – 3 tomatoes, cut into ¼” slices
6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil leaves for garnish and a wonderful fresh flavor

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet or pizza stone by sprinkling with a little cornmeal. Roll out pizza dough to the desired shape and place on baking sheet or stone. Brush with the olive oil. Spread with pizza sauce if using, leaving a ½ inch border, then sprinkle with half of the Parmesan cheese. Arrange the tomatoes over the cheese and top with garlic, salt and pepper and remaining cheese.

Bake the pizza at 500 degrees F for 12 minutes. Check to see if pizza is crispy. If not, let it cook another minute or two. When done, remove to a cutting board and sprinkle with some torn basil leaves. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

Not all pizzas have to be round - create your own shape

Did I hear someone say where’s the mozzarella cheese? Your wish is my command. One of my favorite pizzas is the classic Pizza Margherita, shown above, made with mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and basil. As the story goes Queen Margherita was visiting Naples in 1889 and grew tired of fancy French fare and wanted to try what the common people ate. The owner of the best pizzeria in all of Naples was summoned to prepare three pizzas for her Highness. His mozzarella version was her favorite so he named it Pizza Margherita in her honor. While many people believe this story, records indicate that pizza with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, which happen to be the same colors of the Italian flag, was eaten in Naples forty years before she sampled it.  You can find my recipe for Pizza Margherita here in an earlier post.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Last Saturday this pretty hot air balloon floated past our lanai as we were having breakfast. Meakin was able to get a good shot of it through the screen don’t you think.

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This will be linked to Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday and Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.


  1. I make a sauce each summer when I have an overflow of tomatoes and bottle it. It means I always have my own sauce on hand when I want to have pasta or pizza.
    I like your recipe but I have never tried throwing the dough around, I am sure it would end up on the floor with me LOL. Diane

  2. I love that picture of you, Sam!... and, oh, to be able to say "looking out over the water while sitting on the lanai!"...

    PS, where are you again exactly? That water inlet is beautiful! Not like what we've been seeing online.

    Tomato Basil is my favorite, thanks for sharing tips!....

  3. I've never made my own dough at home. You've almost convinced me to give it a try. I love that "action" photo of you tossing that dough. And of course that pizza looks mouthwatering wonderful.

  4. Is it bad that I now want pizza for breakfast? Scruptious looking pizza, Sam, and I love the action shot of you tossing!

  5. Love the picture of you tossing the dough. This is a stunning pizza, Sam. Almost too pretty to eat:)

  6. We always make our dough and sauce. You are right, it is easy and tastes much better than bought.

    Love seeing the pic of you tossing the dough!

  7. I have not been successful at tossing the dough! I always wanted to learn how to do that. I will try your pizza dough, as I am on a quest to find one I really love. No luck yet, maybe this one is it!

  8. The big question: Did you drop it? I am happy to have your recipe and encouragement as I have a dread of pizza making (ditto roast beef). I actually have fresh mozzarella in the refrigerator and some roma tomatoes. I'm thinking Saturday! Will I toss it? Probably not.

    Have a great weekend.


  9. Hello Sam,

    OMG!!! I love these pizzas without meat. The only ones I really eat.
    Now, could I make this pizza recipe without sugar?



  10. Homemade pizzas are fantastic and yours look amazing! I rarely add meat to my pizzas... That picture of you tossing the dough is great. ;-)



  11. That's just the perfect Friday pizza - laden with goodness. Did you catch the dough? Now, I just need a hot air balloon to glide past my window.

  12. I have never made my own pizza dough. You make it sound so easy. I really must give it a try! Thanks.

  13. I love making pizza dough and sauce. The smell in the house is incredible. Great pics!

  14. You look calmer than I would with dough flying in the air - I'd be afraid to even try that, at least indoors. Your pizza looks incredibly delicious as do the photos - we've become big fans of using fresh tomatoes. I need to hire me a live-in photoghapher. Will yours transfer for room, board and jet ski access?

  15. Wow! Love the view from your lanai. The pizza presents quite a view also. I love pizza without the mozzarella so your first version is my favorite. I have been making my pizza dough in the bread machine. That is such a great picture of you tossing the dough! Loved this post Sam.

  16. Fun! The pizza looks delicious and I love the shot of you tossing the dough.

  17. the pizza looks fabulous and tossing the homemade dough looks so fun!!

  18. This pizza look delicious! gloria

  19. I chicken out when it comes to tossing my pizza dough. You are so right that homemade pizza dough and sauce is both easy and delicious. I like to make my dough ahead, because I think it tastes even better a day or two later. It's fun making your own combos. Margherita pizza is my #1 fave, hands down!

  20. Love that picture of you tossing the pizza. This looks like a great recipe, the first time I am learning about the rapid rise yeast. I've seen it on the market, but did not know that it only require minutes to rise.

  21. These look wonderful! My husband is the pizza maker in our house -- he always makes two -- one white (no tomato) and one red. His roasted tomato/ bacon pizza is one of our favorites.

  22. You guys have me craving a homemade pizza so bad on a Friday night but it's a little late to start one now.

    Great photos and the pizza toss one is fun!

  23. What wonderful photos of two beautiful pizzas. You have real style with your pizza tossing by the way...way high in the air.

  24. I love making homemade pizza! Your pizza looks delicious!!! Margherita is my favorite also!

    I usually make about 4 balls of dough and freeze the extra! I also like to use my homemade sauce - I canned tomatoes this past summer. There's nothing better!

    Cute photo of you tossing the dough!!!

  25. That's a gorgeous pizza! Really love the last pizza photo...drooling...

  26. I'm still smiling over that photo, Sam. What fun you were both having. And with such super results too! I haven't made pizza since the kids were little. Think I better rectify that!

  27. Hi Sam,
    What a gorgeous pizza. Looks perfect!

  28. What a great pic of you and your friend in the kitchen! It made me smile. :) Now I want homemade pizza in the worst way!!! That hot air balloon is beautiful. A few years ago I went to the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque - amazing - an experience that should be on everyone's bucket list!!!!!

  29. I am drooling over your pizza!

  30. That pizza looks too even throw the dough in the air? So jealous :)

  31. Thank you for your sauce recipe - I love the idea of using lemon juice in it. The simple pizza toppings are always the best!

  32. Homemade pizza is one of our favorite meals and homemade sauce is a must. I would love a couple of slices with my morning coffee.

  33. Sam, That pizza looks divine....and you throw a mean piece of dough. Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers and another wonderful recipe. XO, Mona

  34. I've made lots of homemade pizza, but I have never ever been brave enough to toss the dough. I am so impressed! And that is a GREAT picture! Haha. Your pizza looks wonderful.

  35. oh this pizza sauce and dough looks fabulous! I made pizza last night and I wish I would have seen this recipe beforehand! I actually put some beer in my dough and it gave it a nice fun and new flavor and texture. Anyway,loving your pizza

  36. Fantastic! You guys are good;pinning this recipe because I really want to give it a try.

  37. I have never tasted a homemade pizza – it must be quite an experience. Yours look so tantalizing. I have flapped crèpes in the air but would be afraid to do it with strong dough. I like your picture of pizza dough tossing.

  38. Sam, do you know I make homemade pizza once a week for my pizza fanatics! We love it! But I almost never (I'm ashamed to admit it) make my own sauce. Your sauce sounds so delicious... I will definitely make a batch. Yum! A pizza would taste so much better with this on top. I also love the fresh tomatoes you've added - I'll do that when summer rolls around. I'm also laughing at the two of you tossing dough: too adorable!

  39. Sam, I love the pizza recipe but the photo of you and Macon tossing pizza dough is priceless. Cross-training is important these days :-). I hope the two of you have a fabulous week. Blessings...Mary

  40. What a great picture tossing the pizza!! and it looks SO delicious - LOVE the ingredients you used :)
    Mary x

  41. I love the photo of you tossing the pizza dough! My favorite pizza is Margherita pizza but I also love pizza with olives. My favorite blend is black and green olives together. I can't wait to try your recipe for dough and sauce (as soon as I lose some vacation weight ;).

  42. I make my own dough when it was so easy in the bread machine...even quicker than using Publix bakery pizza dough. I have use fresh slice tomatoes on my pizza ever since I had it that way in Paris. I don't make my own sauce but my dad is an expert at that. I usually use pesto and riccota cheese or other sauces like white sauce ( My daughter's request) :)

    I love all your pizzas they look fantastic!! Especially like the action shot...good job Meakin!

  43. Delicious! Homemade pizza is the best!

  44. I love making pizza! I msut try your food processor dough next time ..sounds easy and good!

  45. Your pizza looks amazing and I like the picture of tossing the dough in the air! My husband makes his own dough and sauce too, it's just so much better than store bought! Your pizza looks wonderful!

  46. Dear Sam, I think with the prices of pizza everyone is learning to make pizza or will be! It is a fun experience and your imagination is limitless for a delicious pizza .
    Your pizza looks wonderful. Blessings my dear, Catherine xo

  47. Such fabulous pizza...this may have to be our Friday dinner!!! And I love the photo of you learning to toss pizza dough...priceless :)

  48. What a gorgeous view you have from your lanai...with or without the addition of a hot air balloon! How fun!

    It looks like you were really having some fun with that pizza dough, too. LOL

    Thanks for your recipe. I can STILL remember the pizza we ate in Florence, Italy & it, too, had fresh tomatoes on it. Yum! I shall make your version very soon.

    Grateful hugs,

  49. p.s. I just subscribed to get your postings via email. Thanks for making that available & I don't know why I never noticed it before. ~blush~


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