Resolutions: Pizza

Come New Years, everyone swears they want to save money. I’m doing my best to hold to that, but with two teenage boys in the house, it’s not easy.

Being teenage boys, they love pizza. I mean, who doesn’t? It’s a special treat to order out. I used to be able to thrill my youngest if I said, “How about pizza ordered?” “Pizza ordered” could be Domino’s or Papa John’s; he didn’t care. He just loved that someone brought him his second favorite food on the planet. Double the love if there was cheesy bread involved.

Problem being, “pizza ordered” is getting kind of expensive. Between the three of us, if I find the right specials, I can keep the cost to about $24, but that’s still a lot more than the average fast food night out. Something had to give.

That’s when I went looking through my bread machine’s recipe book and found the Best Pizza Dough Ever.It was Saturday morning and I’d just had some coffee so I thought, why not? I gathered the ingredients and set everything up:

My beloved bread machine.

My beloved bread machine.

I was going to put my half marathon magnet on the car, but I like it here instead, where I can see it every day. The post-it is my family recipe for meringue cookies, which I still haven’t quite gotten right yet. Blech. Anyway, the machine made the dough:

Pizza dough on a lightly floured surface. Stretching it onto a 3-foot-square pan without splitting it is a trick I'm starting to master.

Pizza dough on a lightly floured surface.

Stretching the dough across a 3-foot pan is a trick I’m just learning to master. See also: how to fill gaps when it does split. (It’s not impossible and the dough comes out none the worse for wear.)

Once stretched, load it up with your favorite toppings. I started with tomato sauce, followed by crushed oregano, onion powder, garlic salt, and parmesan. On top of that I added copious amounts of shredded cheese. Here I give a shout-out to WalMart low fat shredded mozzarella. A 2 pound bag lasts 5 days in this house. I put it on almost everything, and it tastes so good, I’ll nip a little straight from the bag when I’m in the mood.

Pre-baked pizza.

Pre-baked pizza.

One son loves black olives, the other loves pepperoni; they both love bacon. We didn’t have any pepperoni, and I’m a vegetarian so if I put meat on this thing, I wouldn’t get any. (Which is so wrong after all the work I put into it.) This night, they settled for half cheese, half black olives.

It went in the oven at 425 for 20 minutes or until the cheese bubbles and is just a tiny bit golden. Once the smell wafted through the house, I had a kitchen full of teenagers, eagerly sniffing the air, so I took the pizza out, sliced it up, started dividing the spoils…and then realized I’d forgotten to take a picture. Gah. Anyway, when I came to my senses, this is the end result:

Half-cheese, half-black olives pizza!

Half-cheese, half-black olives pizza!

For the cost of about a pound of cheese, some leftover tomato sauce, leftover black olives, and the bread ingredients, I’d say this pizza cost about $8 and it fed the three of us. That’s $16 I can put in the bucket for vacation.

As it turns out, the homemade pizza was such a success that I made it again this weekend, and this time I did take a picture of the finished product. No extra toppings lying around this time, and Ryan pleaded with me to NOT add mushrooms, so this one was an all-cheese creation. So far no one’s cried, saying they miss the Domino’s guy. šŸ™‚

Cheese pizza a la Carla.

Cheese pizza a la Carla.

I think next time I’ll let the boys top it as they wish, which likely means meat, which means I’ll have to plan an alternative for myself. Oh well. Maybe I’ll save some dough on the side and make myself a veggie feast!

If you’re looking for the dough recipe, it helps to have a bread machine; I’m not sure how to do this without one. Otherwise, here goes:

1 1/2 cups water

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp salt

4 1/4 cups bread flour

2 tsp bread machine yeast

Set machine to DOUGH setting. When ready, place dough on lightly floured surface and cover with a mixing bowl for 10 minutes to rest. I have a 3-foot square pizza pan but you can split the dough to use on multiple pans or pizza stones. Stretch to suit your size pan, then cover with toppings, bake at 425 for 20 minutes, and enjoy!

For our gluten-free friends, can someone suggest an alternative to bread flour (which, as I understand it, has a little more gluten than regular flour)?



16 thoughts on “Resolutions: Pizza

    • Arlene, I seem to recall pizza dough mixes in the baking section of the grocery store, and it includes the yeast. It’s been a while since I did it, though, so I’m not sure if it’s still there. Worst case, though, some stores sell pizza dough in bags, and my dad gets frozen bread dough, lets it thaw in the fridge, then uses that for pizza dough. It works up much the same way, and not only is it cheaper than take-out pizza but there’s less to clean up afterward!

  1. The pizza looks yummy. Making pizza dough has always intimidated me. Maybe I need to get a bread machine so it won’t scare me so much. šŸ™‚

    BTW–I love the half-marathon magnet! I recognized it for what it was before I read the caption! šŸ˜€

    • Making the dough is ridiculously easy with a machine handy. Just be sure to put in the wet ingredients first, create a little well for the yeast, and this past time around, I set the timer so I could go to the store and the machine would have the dough ready at the time I specified. Knowing the dough setting takes about 90 minutes, plus the rest time, stretching and baking, I planned dinner for 6 and it was ready on time. (As opposed to the first time, when I thought the dough setting only took 30 minutes. There were some hungry kids in this house that night.) I also have to say that once in a while, having fresh bread in the house is just awesome. A fresh baked loaf has a life span of about 30 minutes on the weekends. I’m lucky if I get 2 slices. The smell of bread has been known to wake Ryan from a sound sleep, the way the sound of the Winnie the Pooh theme song used to wake him from his naps. (It was SO cute! I’d put on the TV at 2 when the show came on, his big blue eyes would pop open, and trance-like he’d crawl off the couch and pad over to the TV to sing!)

  2. Carla, that pizza looks so yummy! I can only imagine how good your house must’ve smelled. šŸ˜€

    I wish I had a bread machine. I can’t imagine how it works. Is there a dough hook in it?

    I just use 2 of the Jiffy pizza crust mixes per big baking sheet. The fam loves it and it’s cheap. Of course, I have to make 2 11×15 pans to feed my crew. I’m so with you on the price of take-out pizza. It’s a rare treat for us these days.

    • Lis, there’s a paddle at the bottom of the pan that kneads the bread. With my old machine, the paddle was upright and rigid (make of that what you will), and I had to pull it out of the finished product. (I’m not making this up, really!) The new one has a joint so it’s upright when it’s kneading, and it lies flat when the bread is baking, so it doesn’t stick up into the loaf, thereby making at least one slice look like the bottom end was cut by Freddy Krueger. In both cases, you separate the paddle from the pan to wash them.

      I don’t wash either the paddle or the pan in the dishwasher. They have non-stick surfaces, and I’ve heard abrasives could scratch the pan. I usually need the pan ready for action again quickly. Can’t wait ’til the dishwasher runs!

      I think Jiffy was the mix I was thinking of earlier. Glad to know they’re still available! I sure don’t plan on sending the bread machine off with the oldest when/if he goes away to college! (Though I imagine he’d be the most popular kid on campus if he could make his own home made bread!)

      • LOL…how could I not think what you thought I’d think?! *still laughing*

        I did wonder how on earth the whole bread machine thing could possibly work. Many years ago, I used to make homemade French bread all the time. Now I’ve got a hankering to do it again.

        I tried to make homemade pizza dough once, but it came out tougher than stale beef jerky. I must’ve over-worked it or something. I’m game to try it again. You made it look fabulous. šŸ™‚

    • AG, I may end up doing that this weekend. I’ll make a meat-laced pizza for the boys, and get a pre-made smaller dough for my veggie pizza. I still can’t get over how I used to pick the onions out of *everything*, and now I put them on everything. (I even once went to BK and asked for a Whopper, no onions, and onion rings instead of fries. The cashier looked me as if to ask, “You…what?”)

      The recipe I used also has a variation for using honey instead of sugar, and beer instead of water. I have to give this a shot some time but I don’t often have beer in the house. In the name of science and experimentation, I may have to get some.

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