Pizza has to be one of my favorite foods, and I would eat it all the time if I could. Unfortunately calories and health get in the way 🙂 I really enjoy making pizza at home, and my family gets super excited when I make it. It is also a fun family activity. When I was little, my mom would make pizza almost every Sunday and I just love those memories. I love being able to pass this on to my little ones. I also remember sneaking pieces of dough when it was rising. I wish I could tell that little girl, “Don’t eat raw dough, it’s bad for you!,” but I can’t. Anyway, back to the reason for this post….pizza! On Tuesday, I shared a delicious garden fresh pizza sauce, and today I will bring it all together with a fantastic hand-tossed crust and a trio of delicious cheeses. I hope you enjoy this pizza as much as we do!
Click here for the garden fresh pizza sauce recipe.
* if you only want to use mozzarella cheese, anywhere from 8 to 10 oz will work, depending on how cheesy you like your pizza
Sift the flour and then add salt and stir well with a whisk, and set aside. Add the warm water to a warmed mixer bowl and sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit for 3-5 minutes, and then stir if needed to dissolve the yeast. Add the olive oil, honey, and flour mixture. Using the dough hook, mix on low until the dough comes together (about 1.5 minutes). Now comes the kneading process. If using the mixer to knead, continue on low for 2 minutes. The dough should be forming a ball and clinging to the hook. If needed, sprinkle a small amount of flour at a time during this process. Continue on low for an additional 1.5 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky, soft, and spring back when poked.
Form a ball and place in an oiled bowl and lightly oil the dough on top. Cover and let rise in a warm draft-free spot for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Gently remove the dough and place on a scantly floured surface. Gently pat into a rectangle and cut into 2 pieces, and then form 2 balls. Place each in a greased bowl, and cover and let rise for an additional 30 minutes in a warm draft-free spot. If you are newer at shaping pizza dough, place in the refrigerator instead, for at least an hour fort he second rise (cool pizza dough is much easier to work). Note: You can make this dough the day before. Instead of letting it rise in a warm draft free spot for the first rise, cover well with plastic wrap and let it rise in the fridge. Remove and prep for the second rise, by starting where you gently pat into a rectangle.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If you have a good pizza stone, use it and ensure you preheat if needed. Some stones need to be heated for an hour at 500 degrees for optimal performance. If not using a stone, lightly grease your pan.
Finely grate the mozzarella and Asiago cheeses, and crumble the feta cheese (keep cheeses separate).
Flour your work surface well. Place one dough ball at a time and begin to pat down, adding flour as needed. Sprinkle on top and lightly pat, and add to dough as needed. Once you have patted the dough down to a small circle, you can continue to flip and pat down until you have reached an optimal size and thickness (always pat out, so that you end up with excess to form a crust). Using both hands, begin to make the crust, with one hand on the inside and one on the outside (if using a regular pan, form the crust in the pan). Now pinch the outside, to better form a crust. Sprinkle cornmeal all over your pan and place the dough on it. If using a preheated stone, some quick reshaping will be needed. Place in the oven and par-cook the dough to get a better cooked dough (this step is optional).
Let the dough slightly cook, until it just loses its floppiness and can be lifted off the stone, with a pizza peel or large spatula (this will only take a few minutes, especially on a pre-heated stone). You do not want the dough to start browning, so watch it carefully. Remove from the oven and begin to top the pizza (You can leave the stone in the oven and lift the pizza out with a pizza peel). Spoon the sauce on and evenly spread over the dough, followed by the cheeses (in this order: Asiago, feta, and mozzarella).
Place back in the oven and remove once the crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Right before the pizza is done, I like taking it off of the stone for a few minutes and baking directly on the rack, just until the dough underneath is browned. Once done remove from the oven or put under the broiler if you like more browning on the cheese. Slice and enjoy!
#1 Add olive oil, garlic, and ricotta cheese, instead of sauce, to make a white pizza or make it an olive oil based pizza. Use the sauce for dipping.
#2 Make extra pizza dough or use any extra to make garlic knots. They are a perfect appetizer before pizza! This sauce pairs beautifully. Check out Zoale's garlic knot recipe.
#3 Make the dough the day before. Instead of letting it rise in a warm draft free spot for the first rise, cover well with plastic wrap and let it rise in the fridge. Remove and prep for the second rise, by starting where you gently pat into a rectangle in the directions.
#4 If you have little ones, have them help you make the dough and put the toppings on. It is always great to involve children in the cooking process, especially when the result is pizza 🙂