When my friends and I get together, we don’t do what normal people do. We do pizza parties. It’s like a backyard picnic complete with kids, friends, and food. Except of course, it’s held inside and no grill required. Instead we make homemade pizza because somewhere down the line mine has become famous. Now when we decide to do a get together with a houseful a kids, we call it “pizza night”.
First I start with making the crust. I have a bread machine, so it makes it a whole lot easier. Toss in the ingredients, set it on dough, and we’re good. My pizza crust recipe is as follows, and it makes two crusts:
Easy Homemade Pizza Crust
3/4 c. warm water about 80 degrees F
1 Tbl. olive oil
1 Tbl. brown suger
1 tsp. italian seasoning (avoid garlic - yeast will not rise)
1 Tbl. dry milk
2 1/4 c. Unbleached white flour
1 tsp. active dry yeast.
Add ingredients in order in bread machine, making small indention in flower for yeast (Make sure it does not touch liquid). Set bread machine on “dough”. If you don’t have a bread machine, mix ingredients together and kneed dough for 5 minutes. Lightly coat with olive oil and place in bowl. Let rise for 30 minutes.
Use half of dough for thin crust, and freeze the other half if need be. When finished, roll out dough on pizza pan. Poke holes in dough and coat with olive oil, garlic, italian spices, and parmesan cheese. Bake for 5 mins at 425 degrees.
Next comes the pizza sauce. Sometimes I cheat and grab a can of italian diced tomatoes. Although during the summer when I have tomatoes in the garden, I’ll use my own. I make the pizza “sauce” in the same way I make my salsa - diced and tossed in a sauce pan on high. When it starts to boil, I turn it down to low and let it simmer for awhile. When I’m using my own tomatoes, I put in oregano, basil, and garlic salt. My fresh pizza sauce is a little on the chunky side, but everyone seems to love it. Most likely because it’s homemade and you just can’t beat that.
Next I fry up the hamburger and Italian sausage. Usually we use about one pound hamburger and half a pound sausage. The rest of the ingredients include pepperoni, sliced mushrooms (from a jar), mild pepper rings, and of course shredded cheese. I usually make one “everything” pizza and one just pepperoni for the picky kids.
Now the main reason this pizza has become famous is NOT because of the homemade crust or fresh pizza sauce. Nope, it’s actually because my pizza is called “the mountain pizza” because it’s so piled with toppings. On the everything pizza, there are about 4-5 layers of all the toppings I listed above. I’m not skimpy either. Just for one pizza I require about 2 packages of pepperoni, 1 whole jar of mushrooms, most of the hamburger and sausage, and up to 2 bags (2 cup size, so 4 cups in all) of cheese. Yes this pizza is LOADED.
Now because this pizza is so big, I usually skip the cooking step in the crust recipe. Reason for this is it takes so long for the pizza to cook, the crust risks getting a little too crispy if it’s got a head start.
Because of the size, I also cook it slow. About 375 for at least 45 mins. Cooking it slow helps the crust not to burn, and makes sure it cooks all the way in the middle. You can tell it’s cooked when the cheese is brown all the way across the top.
In all, these pizzas take a whole lot of time, but it’s fun. When we do pizza parties, there is always a house full of kids that love to help putting on the toppings. Make sure you have extra toppings on hand, because quite a bit will walk away with lots of kids around. (My daughter once asked if she could help, then proceeded to steal and eat a pepperoni right off the pizza!)
Give yourself at least an hour for the crust (an hour an a half if you have a bread machine), half an hour to put the pizza together, and at least an hour to cook. We usually start at 2pm to have things at least close to ready by our normal supper time (5pm). The time goes pretty fast when you have friends and kids helping though.