Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Homemade Pizza in 3 Acts

Made properly, pizza at home can be just as good, and probably better, than the stuff you have delivered. Except for the pizza pan you’ll see later, I tried not use any special equipment, like pizza stones, or exotic ingredients you would have a hard time finding.

Act 1: The Pizza Dough (Pay attention or you’ll get pizza D’oh!)

In clip one I make a very simple standard pizza dough. It’s amazing how intimidated people are when it comes to making any kind of dough or bread at home. Hopefully this demo will cure that. By the way, I will add ingredients to all these clips so you can have the exact measurements. This is only really crucial for the dough. The sauce recipe and final pizza can be varied as you see fit. So, let’s get this Pizza party started right! The key to a great pizza dough is a moist, sticky dough. We only want enough flour to be able to work with the dough…too much flour will result in a dry, tough pizza.

The “Sponge”:
2 teaspoons dry yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2/3 cup bread flour

The Rest of the Dry Ingredients:
4 cups unbleached white flour
1/4 cup rye flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil

Act 2: The Pizza Sauce

The sauce for our pizza is also very simple. A fast and tasty base for whatever wonderfully creative toppings we decide to go with later. This is an important point. If you’re going to top the pizza with lots of spicy and/or salty ingredients, your sauce better be fairly basic. Regardless, this quick, homemade sauce will destroy any canned grocery store sauce, as well as most pizzerias. By the way, I’m giving away an ancient family secret in this clip, so pay attention, my Grandmother is watching from pizza sauce heaven!

1 can whole peeled tomatoes (28 oz) “San Marzano” if possible!
3 cloves garlic
2 tbl olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
salt to taste
1/2 tsp dried Italian herb mix (basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, etc.)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
pinch sugar
small pinch baking soda (shhh)

Act 3: The Pizza

OK, so I’m not giving a list of ingredients for the finished pizza. You know what you like. But, here are a few key mistakes most people make when doing pizza at home. They put too much sauce. They put too much cheese. They put too many toppings and when they try to eat it, it all slides off on to the floor and all their left with is a wet piece of steaming bread. Don’t be that person. Watch me restrain myself and also watch how my pizza pie ends up being the shape of a heart. Wow, what a great Valentines gift idea for you guys out there…make your lady a heart shaped pizza! By the way, go to the local Bed, Bath and Beyond, or other kitchen wares store, and get one of the pizza pans with holes in it that I used in this clip. It really makes crispy crust a reality without the 70 pound pizza stone that you probably aren’t going to pull out of the bottom cupboard anyway.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this most excellent recipe.
Tried it and followed the steps outlined by Chef John.

The best result so far of all the internet pizza recipes I tried. The pizza tasted like the one you buy from any italian pizzeria. My kids loved it.

The only thing is that I split the dough into 4 parts. Cooking time was 15 min at 500F.



Anonymous said...

Great pizza recipe, I hvae made it three times. Pizza along with Pies are usually my doom but now I am confident in my pizza making. Thank you and I love your videos!

sbonzai said...

Great pizza. Lot's of work though.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm just a bored college kid looking to make some pizza without running out at 4 am whilst studying for exams - This recipe kicked some behind and I had to keep hoards of roommates away from it
- Thanks a lot

Anonymous said...

My husband and I decided we wanted to make our own pizza and found your video on youtube.com. We love the recipe and watched and followed it step by step on the computer while we made it and it turned out great!! I am actually making it right now and decided to leave a comment. I will be following your other videos as well because I love to cook!

Trish C.

CreditCook said...

What I love about pizza is that it's inexpensive if you cook it yourself. And I don't know a single person who won't eat pizza. And Leucedia or not - well, pizza is supposed to be made of leftovers:) that's the idea

Anonymous said...

trying to make a sauce that will complement your (amazing) meatball recipe. is this what you use for an all around tomato sauce? obviously needs to be a little more viscous for pizza... but is this the general base?

Chef John said...

Sorry, but the pizza sauce is ONLY for the pizza. It really isnt a perfect one for the meatballs. I havent demo'd my basic red meat sauce yet which is what I would simmer the meatballs in. You'll have to stay tuned!

Anonymous said...

hi Chef John,
Just a question about the flours you are using.
Is is whole or white rye flour?
Is bread flour also called strong flour?
I have some Italian "00" flour could I use that instead?
What kind of yeast should I be looking for - I have some fast action bread yeast in my cupboard would that do?

So many choices in the supermarket it hard to know what to buy! Perhaps you could let us know what brands you're using.


Chef John said...

it was whole grain rye,
yes, bread flour is a "strong" flour (high gluten),
00 means it was ground very very fine depends on what type to know if its ok for bread/pizza there are differnt strengths 00,
basic suppermarket fast acting fleishmans yeast is fine. Thanks.

Peregrine said...

A more complex dough than I have been making but it looks like will have more taste.
I just bought the pan you use so I will give the whole thing a try.
Nice blog but I hate the "cookies" (not cookie recipes).
I take the laptop into the kitchen and view and pause the videos as I go.

Check out my new mortar & pestle on my blog.

"A Peregrination"

Peregrine said...

Please print the "sponge" part II. That way when some one prints out the recipe they won't miss that part. It's in the first video but not on the printed section.
IMO You might want to start giving text directions for all your recipes;
1 - So fans can print out a recipe and...
2 - You can publish a cook book of favorites as your fame spreads.

I'm in the middle of the second "sponge", will let you know how I did.

"A Peregrination"

Chef John said...

"Start giving text directions for all your recipes" NEVER!! You can watch the clips, multiple times and write your own. I have enough to do giving away free video recipes! I'm too important to type!! :P

Mike said...

Your dough recipe looked like it would be enough for multiple pizza's.

Can the remaining be put in the freezer to use at a later date?

Chef John said...


cgeiersbach said...

Thanks for this recipe! I found your video on youtube. So far, so good. I've cut the dough into pieces and stuck them in ziploc bags in the fridge. 2 Questions: Do you seal the bag, or does that matter? and.. Is each piece of dough for one pizza then?

Chef John said...

Yes and Yes. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

I saw that somone answered my question about freezing the pizza's, but how? Would you cook them all the way, cook them part way. I made the dough last night and will be making the pizzas tonight.

Chef John said...

No, you just freeze the leftover dough and thaw it when you make the pizza. Good luck!

Anonymous said...


is all of the Olive Oil for the pizza and sauce pure, or extra virgin?


Chef John said...

pure is fine, save the evoo for the salad.

Anonymous said...

once the sauce is made, what's the best way to preserve them? Also, how long can you keep them?

Chef John said...

the sauce keeps about 5 days, or freeze.

Anonymous said...

What a fab recipy infact the best i have had yet thanks from a big pizza lover. i will never order a pizza in again.

Anonymous said...

When making the dough, what do you mean by warm spot? Is next to a sunny window okay?

Chef John said...

just a warm room is fine. In the window may be too hot, but next to a sunny window is good.

Farhana said...

Ok, I think my yeast is a bit on the old side. My "sponge" didn't really happen. I did have some bubbles but nothing like yours. Maybe my water wasn't warm enough? The packet said I had more than a YEAR before it expired.... *sigh*... I'll buy new yeast and try again.

texichan said...

Hey Chef John! I finally got around to making this, and just finished my pizza a bit ago. It was SO delicious. I used fresh mozzarella, grated parmesan, some feta, black olives, and artichokes. I'm so glad that I have enough sauce and dough to make plenty more!

Greg said...

When I saw both you and Peter Reinhart recommend an overnight rest in the fridge I had to try it.

I had nothing to lose as my prior pizza crusts were more like water crackers.

Tonight, the crust was very good. I stayed close to your version but used whole wheat instead of rye flour.

Thanks! Now I can say I make decent pizza.

Anonymous said...

So, the whole pizza is made from the individual portion of dough?

Chef John said...

yes, its a small pizza, about 9-in. looks big on TV

Emily said...

This looks very good. :D My family and I tonight are going to try your taco pizza. Yum! On the dough does it still taste just as good if you don't leave it in the fridge over night? I'm just curious which is the best for the best taste. LOL about your wife at the end. ;) I love your site because you have so many great recipes!

Chef John said...

overnight is for texture, should be fine either way. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for an easy recipe, Most everyone posts recipes using machines, I like getting your hands in the dough...The old fashion way

How thin can you go with this dough, I like a Cracker Crust pizza that needs to be partially cooked then add the topping later in 4 minutes,

Can I stretch/roll 1 ball to a 15 3/4"

Chef John said...


Johnnie said...

Thank you for the advice on the Cracker Crust. I tried it yesterday and it came out PERFECT !. It was almost 14" but it was probably because I made the dough ball a little bit smaller.

Much Much better the the store bought dough I've been using.

I've also been using a pizza stone, which dosent work that well on cracker crust, too many hot spots. Now I just sit the dough on parchment paper on the second from bottom rack at 450 degrees, and it gets a nice even browness and crispness.

You are truly a genius, Kudos to you !!

Anonymous said...

I see you have sausage on your pizza, how do you stop the sausage or pepperoni from cupping ? They always come out looking like little bowls. I tried thin slice, thick slice, small and large pepperoni,I even tried pieling the skin off it, and always the same

Chef John said...

sorry, I'm not sure. Mine cups too sometimes. I just blot the oil with a towel.

John H said...

Hi, I made "your" pizza dough a few nights ago, following your ingredients. Yes, it turned out pretty darn good. But, I wanted to see the difference in using a high-gluten flour.....it was incredible. BTW, I would consider bread flour, medium-gluten. But it is hard to find real high-gluten flour at a grocery store; I couldn't. So, I ordered online.

PizzaHo said...

Thanks for the recipe. I am making the pizza for my girls for Valentines day all heart shaped.

Here is a question though, what is the difference in making the no knead dough 12 hours in advance and storing it in a warm place over night (such as inside a closed oven in the off position) versus putting the dough in the fridge? I know when it comes out of the fridge you have to let it get back to room temperature and it rises slower because of the cold but which will give it more flavor?

Chef John said...

not better flavor, but some say better texture. I'm not sure myself.

dania said...

can i just use regular white flour

Chef John said...

yes u can!

Anonymous said...

Hi, just watched the video and tried making the dough. I used all white flour as its all I had (and you recently said you dont need to use rye flour), and the first 2 phases appeared to go fine. Where it went "bad" if you want to call it that is at the kneading. Even with a dusting on the board and my hands, the dough was incredibly sticky (would literally attach itself to my hand and not let go) and required a bit of extra flour to get to a level where when I pused it, it wouldnt stick to my hand like it had super glue on it. Any idea why that happened?

Chef John said...

more flour , and you are kneading with your fingers and not your palm.

Anonymous said...

Ah I realized what it was, I accidentally used some unlabeled pancake mix (you just add water) instead of flour. It doesn't taste that bad, not sure what to use it for now though!

Anonymous said...

I'm brazilian and like you I live in San Francisco. Been in the US for 16 years now.
One thing I miss from Brazil is the pizza. One of the differences is that the sauce is raw. We just throw everything in the blender. The ingredients are very similar to what you use.
I usually find the tomato sauce in the US too sweet. We use almost no sugar, just enough to cut a bit of the acidity.
The baking soda is an interesting trick. I'll have to try that. I wonder if it would work on raw, cold sauce though.
Anyway, I just found your site and it's mouth watering. I'll have to come back.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and love for good food.


Walkinghorse said...

This is the best sauce EVER! I have tried so many and they are never right. It's perfect! Thank you!

Ορέστης said...

Hi chef John,

how many pizzas does the sauce serve? I am trying out the No-Knead Pizza Dough (The Remix). Actually, it is my first ever attempt at homemade pizza but with videos like these, what could go wrong?

Thanks, keep up the good work.

Chef John said...

not sure, but it makes 4 small pizzas of the size you see in the video. Could be enough for 2, 4, 6 depends how much they eat!

Cynthia said...

Hi Chef John!

I don't have any rye flour :(
Is it okay to use all purpose flour for the recipe?


PS: You are my hero in the kitchen!!

Chef John said...

It still works, or you can use our newer pizza recipes, like the Wolfgang Puck version.

Hazel said...

Hi Chef John, I tried this pizza dough recipe twice and both times the dough just got very sticky and I have to add a lot more flour when I knead, despite flouring my board and hands. The outcome was still good though, both me and my husband happily devoured the thin crust pizzas. I don't have measuring cups like yours so I converted from cups to metric measurements. I wonder if the conversion is correct. 1 cup of unbleached flour is about 130g, and 1 cup of water is about 240ml?


Chef John said...

Yes that is correct! Also you should try our newer pizza dough recipes like Wolfgang pucks and our no knead.

Karen's Kitchen said...

step 1, step 2, step 3.... dang, no leftovers. Step 1, step 3..
breakfast pizzas. Enough said! Thanks Chef John!

Unknown said...

Thanks Chef John! Made the dough starting at 10:30pm yesterday night. Big mistake, since I didn't know there was a 2 hour rise part to the dough making until I got to that part in the video. Waking up at 2am to take the pizza out of the warm spot and into the fridge wasn't fun. @_@

Anyhoo, made this pizza today and it was delish! Been following you for years now. =D

- Kathy

Earl Judds said...

This looks so delicious. Thanks for sharing! I have been trying to make homemade pizza in Glendale. I will have to try the recipe.

Alex Massey said...

This is by far my favorite cooking blog and I have think that there are many insights that you give, especially in your pizza sauce recipe. In particular, using anchovies to bring saltiness behind the scenes and combining fresh and dry oregano. However, I want to give some constructive criticism. You really should not use a rolling pin on your pizza dough unless you absolutely have to due to an unmanageable consistency. Why go through all that effort to make your own dough if you're just going to roll it out like a giant Communion wafer? It pushes all the air which gives the crust that thin layer of fluffiness. You don't have to throw the dough in the air (although it is the cool to do) but I highly recommend at least working it by hand.