Homemade Pizza. It’s by far my #1 favorite food. Anything with cheese. Anything with bread.
When you combine the two, you have my undivided attention.
I grew up on my Sicilian grandmother’s homemade pizza. With homemade sauce.
She would make pizza on the days she was making her homemade bread. The whole family would gather in the evening just to get slices of the pizza (she had begun early in the morning to make the bread and pizza dough and fried bread dough, too. Oh, how the list goes on).
Her pizza was long and a bit thick, made on very large baking sheets. Although I never saw her actually making them as a kid, I always noticed that there was little sauce, little cheese and the dough was always perfectly chewy. She judiciously cut every piece herself with large black and silver kitchen shears– my first memories of the utilization of scissors used to cut food. Judiciously because the pizza was precious- it was laborious to make and I know she wanted to ensure that everyone in our large family had a filling taste of the way she showed us love.
Nothing in the world has ever replaced the smell of her bread and pizza dough. As I lifted the square slice (cut in squares by those famous scissors), the smell completely encompassed my soul and began my love of food. Real food. Real pizza.
That’s a very hard act to follow.
Not many people or restaurants have ever fully satisfied my craving for Nonna’s pizza. She doesn’t make them anymore, nor did I ever really learn her recipe. Over phone calls to her during college, I caught a glimpse of what she did to make it, but so much was lost in translation.
Ever since then I’ve been on a quest of my own to replicate (though that can never truly happen) a pizza dough tradition of my own that honors my grandmother’s love of bread, of pizza and of feeding her family with lots of both.
Here’s my experience of mixing the old (fashioning homemade dough) with the new (a lovely new pizza pan I’m going to tell you all about).
I got excited when I saw this product because it looks sturdy and I really loved the handles. Just seems right to be able to pick up the pizza pan rather than pull it out from the bottom. Who has those pizza lifters, anyway?
What I didn’t really want to accept was the fact that we don’t own a grill. How was I going to test out this product for a “Grilled” Pizza Set without one? In the back of my mind, I was convinced it would be easy enough to coax a family member into letting me test it out on their grills over the summer. Fat chance. We’d never have enough pizza on the first try to feed all the people who might flock upon hearing the words “pizza” and “grill”.
Not happening. And, it didn’t.
Then, this winter I decided that since I really wanted to try out this product without waiting for a grill. I have other cast iron products- a skillet and a griddle that I keep over my stove quite often. Why not try out this pan in the oven just to see how it performed.
Glad I did.
The result was a beautifully cooked dough (might have something to do with those slits in the pan) and the pan needed no oil to prevent sticking, which is probably because it comes pre-seasoned. And with a wooden slider.
I’ve used this grill pan twice and absolutely loved it each time. Of course the dough and the sauce have to taste great (which it did, alhamdullilah), but when you don’t have to worry about how the dough cooks, it’s one less thing to have to stress over.
It is, after all, a labor of love.
Pizza Dough Rolled Out
Cuisinart Cast Iron Grill Pan has holes to evenly distribute the heat and give you some pretty cool marks when you use it on the grill
Transfer the dough, then crimp the edges before adding the sauce & ingredients
Fully-Assembled, Uncooked Pizza
Fully-cooked, beautiful, homemade and completely halal pizza
Cuisinart Stainless Steel Serving Pan- comes with the Cast Iron Grill set
Inside a Slice of Pizza
Your Single Serving of Pizza- homemade sauce, homemade crust. Now all you need to do is make the cheese yourself!
I hope you’ll love these recipes as much as we did. And when you’re done cooking, enjoy your pizza on some pretty dinner plates like these German by Arzberg. I just love the simple white as well as the bright colors and simple, modern designs. They also have other sleek modern furniture on their site, so give it a browse…
Homemade Pizza Sauce & Dough
One medium sauté pan
One medium saucepan
Stand mixer with dough hook
4 ounces (½ bag) shredded mozzarella or other types of shredded cheeses
Sejouk (spicy Turkish sausage which is a great substitute for pepperoni).
Pizza Sauce Ingredients (Makes 2 cups)
(In sauté pan)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups green peppers, diced (approximately one large pepper)
½ cup yellow onion, diced (approximately one small onion)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 garlic cloves)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce (no salt-added)
1 tablespoon fresh or frozen basil (2 leaves)
In a medium sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat until warm. Add the pepper and sauté for about 1 minute, or until slightly softened. Add the onion and stir to blend with the peppers and soften, about 1 minute more.
Add the garlic, salt and parsley. Reduce heat to low and cook for10 minutes.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, add the canned tomatoes and basil. Remove the mixture from the sauté pan into this saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Cook for about 40 minutes, covered.
Remove from heat and allow to cool before adding to uncooked dough.
Dough Ingredients (makes enough for one pizza)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Place the yeast and sugar into a large bowl you’ll use to mix your dough (preferably the stainless steel stand mixer bowl). Add the warm water and mix to dissolve. Leave covered, for 10 minutes.
Remove the cover from the yeast mixture. Place bowl on stand mixer to prepare for kneading. Add ½ cup of the flour, the salt and the oil to the mixture. Use the dough hook to knead the flour into the mixture.
Continue to add flour to the mixture, ½ cup at a time, mixing after every addition. Knead until all flour has been completely blended. The dough may not form into a perfect ball just by using the dough hook, so remove from the stand mixer. Add a little oil to your hands and work with the dough inside of the bowl, scraping up any flour on the sides and bottom of the bowl and begin to form a ball using your hands. Add more oil to your hands, if necessary, but only a little bit at a time. Keep mixing and kneading with your hands until you have a ball of dough.
Keep the dough in the bowl. Cover and let rise for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 450° just before preparing to roll out the dough.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough into either a circular (such as the Cuisine Art pan shape) or square (baking sheet size). Transfer the rolled out dough to the pan. * Note: If using the Cuisine Art pan, there’s no need for oils. If using a baking sheet, lightly spray with oil then spread a little corn meal at the bottom of the pan before placing the rolled out dough.
Crimp the edges of the pizza all the way around. Add 1- 1/3 cup of the pizza sauce, then add the cheese, then any other desired toppings.
Bake 15 minutes, or until cheese has turned slightly brown around the edges.
Bismillah and Buon Appetito!
*Disclosure: I have not been paid by any corporation to conduct a review of the product mentioned in this post.
**For a list of vegetarian cheeses, or cheeses made without animal rennet, check out the list by joyousliving.com.