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Add any toppings you want to a homemade pizza. With relatively few ingredients and a little preparation, making pizza at home can be a rewarding experience. (Republican Eagle photos by Danielle Killey)

Food find: Homemade pizza

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Few people can say they don’t enjoy pizza. And on a busy night, it’s easy to call up a shop and have some tasty pies delivered to your door.

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But if you have a little more time on your hands, homemade pizzas can be a cheaper option that might even taste better. Everything from the dough and crust style (deep dish, thin and crispy or Neapolitan) to the sauce (spicy tomato, creamy white sauce or even just olive oil) to the toppings (meats, cheeses and lots more) can be customized. Each person in the family could prepare their own small pizza as well when the dough is made and sized at home.

Making pizza from scratch also allows people who might have to typically steer clear of pizzas to give the tasty meal a try by altering some ingredients.

While making pizzas from scratch can be time-consuming, there are some ways to plan ahead. For example, you can prepare a large batch of dough, separate it into single-serve sizes and freeze it (vacuum sealed or in a tightly-closed container). Then just pull it out of the freezer in the morning and let it proof on the counter and it’s ready to make for dinner that night.

Special equipment, such as a pizza stone or baking peel, also can make the process simpler, but isn’t required. An upside-down baking sheet should do the trick.

Another way to cut down on baking time — and ensure the pizzas are the proper texture — is to preheat the oven (with the stone or sheet inside) for at least a half-hour before baking.

Here are just a few suggestions for pizza recipes — including gluten-free crust and tomato sauce — you can try at home.

Neapolitan pizza dough

Adapted from Modernist Cuisine

Makes four 12-inch pizzas

Ingredients:

• 1/2 kilogram of semolina flour (about 3 3/4 cups)

• 1 1/3 cups water

• 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

• Small amount of oil

• Desired toppings (ex. fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, meats, spinach, etc.)

Mix flour, water and yeast in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment until fully incorporated. Then mix on medium speed for five minutes.

Let the dough rest in the bowl for 10 minutes. Then add salt and mix again for five minutes on medium speed.

Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and separate into four equal pieces. Stretch and roll into four smooth, even balls.

Coat the balls in a thin layer of oil, cover with plastic wrap and let them rest at room temperature for one hour before using.

Heat pizza stone on the top rack of the oven for an hour or so at 550 degrees, or as high as oven temperature will go.

Roll, pull and form dough into a 12-inch circle, leaving a half-inch or so raised lip around the edge. Dough should be thin at this point.

Build pizza on a floured pizza peel or counter. Top with desired sauce, cheese, meat or other toppings, leaving the half-inch lip without toppings.

Cook the pizza for about eight minutes or until crust is golden.

If you plan to freeze dough, place it in vacuum-sealed bags or tightly-closed zip bags or other container immediately after shaping it into balls and covering with oil. Freeze right away.

Let the dough rise throughout the day in the refrigerator before using.

Gluten-Free Pizza (crust)

Epicurious

Makes two 10-inch pizzas

Ingredients:

• 3/4 cup tapioca flour

• 1/2 cup white rice flour

• 1/3 cup chickpea flour

• 1/3 cup sorghum flour

• 1 teaspoon xanthum gum

• 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

• 1/2 cup whole milk

• 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

• 2 teaspoons sugar

• 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten

• 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Equipment

• Pizza stone or heavy baking sheet

• Baking peel or heavy baking sheet

• Parchment paper

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together tapioca flour, white rice flour, chickpea flour, sorghum flour, xanthum gum and salt.

In small saucepan over moderate heat, stir together milk and 1/4 cup water and heat until warm, about 1 minute. Stir in yeast and sugar.

Add milk–yeast mixture, egg whites, and 2 tablespoons oil to dry ingredients and, using paddle attachment on a mixer, beat at medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until dough is smooth and thick (about 5 minutes).

Remove racks from oven and set pizza stone or heavy upturned baking sheet on bottom of oven. Preheat to 400 degrees for at least 45 minutes if using the pizza stone or 20 minutes for the baking sheet.

Place two 12-inch squares of parchment paper on a counter or table.

Scrape half of dough onto each square and form into balls. Coat each ball with 2 teaspoons oil, then use oiled fingertips to pat and stretch each ball into crusts about nine inches in diameter and a quarter-inch thick.

Loosely cover rounds with plastic wrap and let rise until each pizza is about 10 inches in diameter (about 20 minutes).

Using baking peel, transfer one crust with parchment to preheated pizza stone and bake until top is puffed and firm and underside is crisp (five to 10 minutes). Using baking peel and discarding parchment paper, transfer baked crust to rack to cool.

Bake second crust in same manner.

Preheat broiler. Transfer baked crusts to two large baking sheets. Brush 1 teaspoon olive oil over each crust.

Top the pizzas with sauce, cheese and other desired toppings.

Broil pizzas about four inches from heat, rotating as needed, until cheese is bubbling and browned in places and crust is golden brown (four to eight minutes).

Pizza Sauce

Food Network (Ree Drummond)

Makes about six cups of sauce

Ingredients:

• 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 3 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 medium onion, chopped finely

• 1/2 cup chicken broth

• Three 15-ounce cans crushed tomatoes

• Salt and pepper

• Pinch of sugar

• 1 teaspoon dried oregano

• 8 to 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Put a tablespoon or so of olive oil into a hot pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and chopped onions and stir. Cook until the onions are soft (four to five minutes).

Add the chicken broth, whisking. Cook until the liquid reduces by about half. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of sugar. Add the dried oregano and basil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

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Danielle Killey
Danielle Killey is the city reporter for the Republican Eagle, where she has worked since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.
(651) 301-7877
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