Pizza as Religious Experience

As part of my ongoing effort to eat healthier, I purchased a mid-range, no-frills food processor and cast-iron pizza pan for the sole purpose of making my own pizza from scratch. I'll no doubt use them both for other things, but the reason I broke down and opened my wallet was all for the sake of pizza. This has quickly proven to be one of my better ideas. As it turns out, homemade pizza is extremely easy to make, more than reasonably healthy, and positively delicious.

I've had homemade pizza for the last four days in a row! Here's what I've learned about the process so far:

  • Yeast is magical and smells amazing.
  • Punching down dough is fun.
  • You can make decent pizza dough with regular flour. Flour formulated especially for pizza may prove to be better, but regular flour is totally workable.
  • The dough is better after fermenting in the fridge over night
  • Two days of fermenting doesn't add anything meaningful to the flavor or texture.
  • Fermenting dough in plastic bags tends to cause the dough to take a rectangular shape which has to be kneaded back into a ball. A small bowl with some plastic wrap works better and makes for less waste.
  • It's counter-intuitive, but don't put too much sauce or cheese on the pizza.
  • Drizzle some olive oil on the pizza after you sauce it, but before adding the cheese.
  • Transfer the raw pizza to the pan or stone on some parchment paper, cook for a few minutes, slide the parchment out from under the pizza, and continue cooking.
  • Sprinkling some cornmeal on the parchment paper before laying down the dough gives the crust a nice crunch.
  • It takes a lot to burn a pizza. Err on the side of overdone for nicely browned cheese and a crisp crust.
  • You don't absolutely need a peel, but it will make getting the pizza out of the oven a whole lot easier.

Homemade pizza, I can't say enough good about it. If you're not making your own pizza yet, you'll want to get on that right away. There's some startup cost to deal with, but I expect to break even inside of three to four months tops.