My family is really into traditions. So much so that one of their friends was once like, “How did these all get started? Can you help us start some of our own?” And it’s funny, they’re all simple things, but it would feel weird to go without. Like, if we didn’t watch It’s A Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve and make the same comments every single time, it would be weird. It wouldn’t feel like Christmas!
Friday night pizza has been one of those traditions for as long as I can remember. Growing up in the city, we rotated between Little Caesar’s, Gino’s Pizza and Domino’s (which was my preferred spot because mmm, crazy bread). And then we moved to the country, and delivery pizza was no longer available, along with things like taxis and mail delivery and hydro lines (did I mention my parents’ house is off the grid?). So my mom learned how to make homemade pizza, because you can’t ignore traditions just because they start to require a little bit more work.
(does anyone else get that “Knead the dough dontcha know” song stuck it their head while they make dough? Yeah, me neither)
Although I don’t purposely do pizza night on Fridays, it often just happens that way, you know? You’re tired from working all week, but you also want something delicious to celebrate that it’s Friday. Now that I live in the big city with a lot of options, most of the pizzas are delivery (fellow Torontoians: Gelato Pizza is my new favourite place, particularly any of their pizzas with spinach). But I do manage to make this from time to time.
I know making dough scares a lot of people, but this recipe is pretty foolproof. The key is not to kill the yeast with too-warm water – before you add it to the yeast, check it with your inner wrist, like people used to do with baby bottles.
Plus there are just endless topping variations when you make it yourself (and no one is changing you $1 just to add a sprinkle of parmesan). One of my favourite toppings is potatoes and rosemary – delicious and accidentally vegan! But this time I was craving simple pizza: sauce, fresh basil, baby bocconcini cheese.
(I love polka dots in all forms, but especially on pizza)
This is also a very crowding pleasing recipe. I originally was going to post about this when I had my friends Brad and Melissa over for dinner, but then I was being too chatty and totally forgot to take photos.
Pizza Pizza Pizza
(serves four, or two if you want a lot of leftovers for lunch the next day)
- 1 tbsp. active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2-3/4 cups flour
Place ¼ cup lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl, add the yeast and allow to soften for about 10 minutes. In the meantime mix sugar, salt, oil and warm water (I usually do this in a measuring cup). Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add this mixture to the yeast. Add 1-1/2 cups of flour and beat until smooth. Add remaining flour or enough to make a dough just barely firm enough to handle. At this stage, you can cover the dough and set aside for up to two hours.
Turn dough onto floured board and knead lightly. If using 2 smaller pizza pans, divide dough into two. Flatten each piece and using a rolling pin, flatten until big enough to fit a lightly greased pizza pan. Press up around edges to make a slight rim. Let rise for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450° F. Top pizza with sauce, mozzarella, basil and whatever other toppings you desire (I’m a fan of garlic and roasted red pepper). Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper (is it weird to salt and pepper your pizza? I can’t decide). Bake until the bottom is brown and cheese is bubbly – approximately 15-20 minutes.