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How to Make Pizza

Two-cheese pizza

Pizza is a definite DIY situation. It’s cheaper, less likely to be delivered cold, and only covered in surplus commodity cheese if you like that kind of thing. The most time-consuming part is making the dough, which has to rise for an hour or so (although you could cut this to 30 minutes if you were in a big hurry). Because of this, we usually save pizza for weekends and plan to work out, call our parents, or catch up on the DVR while the dough’s doing its thing.

The dough recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, which I got for making a donation to WNYC. Actually, I made the donation to WNYC to get the cookbook and it has totally paid off – good recipes and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me…a seriously good deal. He uses a food processor, but we prefer to use the stand mixer, because our tiny food processor would probably burst into flames if we asked this of it. This NY Times article has the food processor instructions, if you’re so inclined.

Homemade Pizza
Makes 2 12-inch diameter pizzas (You can make larger pizzas with thinner crusts or smaller pizzas with thicker crusts, but this is fits nicely in our oven).

Ingredients for Crust

Amount Ingredient Preparation Where we bought it
(* Union Sq. Greenmarket)
11 3/4 ounces 1/2 white flour a.k.a. “brown” flour (half all-purpose and half whole wheat bread flour), about 2 1/2 cups, volumetrically Cayuga Pure Organics *
2 ounces Cornmeal About 1/2 cup, volumetrically Cayuga Pure Organics *
2 tsp Instant yeast Not to be confused with active dry yeast We use this brand.
2 TBsp Sunflower oil Stolor Organics *
2 tsp Coarse kosher or sea salt

Topping Ideas (per pizza)

  • 1/2 cup prepared pizza sauce
  • About 5 ounces of cheese, such as fresh mozzarella or ricotta
  • Veggies! Onions, mushrooms, sautéed greens, peppers, tomatoes. Really whatever’s in season.
  • Your favorite precooked meat
  • Any leftovers you find in the refrigerator

Red onions and portobello mushroom slices


  1. Weigh flour and cornmeal in stand mixer bowl using the tare (zero-out) function on your scale. That is, put the bowl on the scale, press tare, add 11 3/4 ounces of flour, press tare, and add 2 ounces of cornmeal. No dirty measuring cups!

    Tare your scale to zero with the bowl on itFlour and corn meal

  2. Add the yeast and salt to the flour mixture. Because they’re such a small amounts, it’s best to measure them in teaspoons, rather than by weight.

    Dry ingredientsStand mixer paddle attachment

  3. In a measuring cup, combine 1 cup of water and the sunflower oil.

    Local sunflower oil

  4. With the paddle attachment and the mixer on low, slowly add the liquids to the dry ingredients. Mix until there isn’t any dry flour on the bottom of the bowl, about a minute.

    Combine the ingredients on lowThe ingredients are combined, now switch to the dough hook

  5. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough on speed 2 or 4 for 3 or 4 minutes. I just let it knead until I’m done cleaning everything else up and it forms a nice ball around the hook.

    The dough has finished kneading

  6. Remove the dough from the bowl. Put a small puddle of oil (a teaspoon or so) in the bottom of the stand mixer bowl, drop the dough in, and roll it around so that it’s covered in oil. This will make sure it doesn’t stick to the bowl while rising. You could use a second bowl if you want, but I don’t like to do dishes. Actually, Erik usually does the dishes, so I don’t like feeling guilty about NOT doing the dishes. It’s easy to do as long as you remember to unscrew the cap of the oil before you get your hands all doughy.

    Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or the shower cap you took from the hotel you stayed in last week) and let the dough rise for an hour or 2. Ideally, you should wait for it to double in size, but you can cut this short if you’re in a hurry.

    Balled and oiled, ready to riseAfter rising for 1 hour

  7. Once the dough has risen, preheat your oven to 500 degrees, or as hot as it will go. Set a baking stone or cookie sheet in the top third of the oven to preheat. Lay out two sheets of parchment paper that are about 16 inches long.
  8. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Cut it in half and gently shape each into a ball. At this point, you could tightly wrap one of the dough balls in plastic and freeze it, but we like pizza leftovers, so we never do. Drape a towel over the dough and let it rest for 20 minutes. This will make it easier to shape.

    Halve the dough ball to make two piesEach will become one pie

  9. While the dough is resting, prepare your toppings. We made two different pizzas. One had a sliced portobello mushroom (from Bulich Mushrooms), half a sliced red onion (Paffenroth Gardens), and about 5 ounces of sliced fresh mozzarella (from Eataly, since we forgot to get it at the greenmarket). The other had about 5 ounces of sliced fresh mozzarella and 5 ounces of ricotta (also from Eataly, but made in Brooklyn).

    The toppingsRed onions and portobello mushroom slices

  10. Lay one of the sheets of parchment paper on a pizza peel or (our preferred method) an upside-down cookie sheet. We flip the cookie sheet over, so that the pizza will slide off cleanly without bumping into the raised edges.
  11. To shape the dough into pies, start by patting out one of the balls into a circle. After a while, the dough will start resisting, so use gravity. Hold the disc at the top with both hands and turn it like a steering wheel, using your thumbs to create a lip around the edge. It won’t get perfectly round, but you can fix that later. Once it’s as big as you want it, lay it down on the prepared parchment paper and pat or stretch it into a nicer shape. Fix any holes by pinching the dough together.

    Spread the dough to about 1/2 foot diameter, create a ridge on the outsideContinue stretching by pushing and stretching from the middle outwards

  12. To get it even thinner, use a gravity assist, but be careful!Transfer to a pizza peel (paddle) or a sheet pan lined with parchment paper

  13. Spread the first crust with about 1/2 cup of prepared pizza sauce. We canned our own this summer following this recipe. Lay on your toppings. If you’re using anything delicate, like greens or herbs, tuck them under the cheese so they won’t burn.

    Add the sauceSpread the sauce

    Add six slices of mozzarellaAdd the mushroom slices and red onion

  14. Once your pizza is dressed up and ready to go, open the oven door and pull out the rack as far as it will go. Use an oven mitt! In a smooth motion, pull the pizza onto the stone or baking sheet using the corner of the parchment paper. Be careful!

    Transferring (carefully) to the hot pizza stone

  15. Check the pizza after 8 minutes and then every 1 or 2 minutes thereafter until it’s done. Our oven usually takes about 12 minutes, but it depends on how long it preheated and what toppings we used. You want a dark brown crust and some brown spots on the cheese.

    Portobello mushroom and red onion pizza A bubbly, browned close-up

  16. While the first pizza is baking, prepare the second following the same steps.

    Two-cheese (mozzarella and ricotta) pizza Two-cheese pizza

  17. This is the hard part. Don’t eat it right away! If you cut it too soon, it will just be a big juicy mess. Wait 5 minutes (more if you can) for it to cool and firm up.

    A nice slice

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